Are autistic children at greater risk for abuse? - Jacksonville Many of the hallmarks of autism put children at risk of abuse, experts say. Children with autism have trouble deciphering what others are thinking and feeling, which may be frustrating to parents, teachers and others around them. More so than typical children, they take their cues from others and have difficulty distinguishing bad adult behavior from good. And if abuse occurs, communication impairments hamper their ability to tell someone. Nearly one in five autistic children had been physically abused among a sample of 156 children with autism who had been taken to community health centers for treatment, according to a University of Pennsylvania study. About one in six had been sexually abused.