Teenagers with autism are highly subjected to a high level of "mate-crime" - bullied, abused and being robbed from by their friends, says a new study.
The study conducted by Wirral Autistic Charity, said 90 percent of teenagers with autism and Asperger's syndrome had suffered manipulation or even abuse by their friends.
An online study with 141 participants found that many had been manipulated by their friends. More than half of 12 to 16 year old reported they had been stolen from and more than two-fifths had been subjected to physical abuse.
Parents of these children reported that they had been forced to move schools because the bullying was so extensive.
The parent of one 14-year-old who took part in the survey said, "This is an ongoing thing which saddens me to the extreme. My son cannot distinguish banter from bullying and thinks it's ok that his so-called 'friends' call him names or 'accidentally' hurt him or get him to do things for their amusement, but he's just trying to fit in. He's absolutely harmless, extremely vulnerable and it's so, so hard explaining that people are making fun of him and trying to get him into trouble for their own fun."
The study highlighted the shocking abuse being carried out against some of the society's most vulnerable.
A person with autism is unaware of that what they consider friendship is an abusive relationship. Parents and care givers recognize the issue but then struggle to find the right way to provide support to the individual.
The study revealed that the most vulnerable are those between 16 to 25 years of age with every respondent remarking that they had struggled to distinguish genuine friends from those who looked to exploit them.
Over one third of the adults who took part in the study had been exposed to bullying or manipulation.
It is hard for people with autism to interpret other people's motivations and as a result they can be taken advantage or manipulated.