Children with autism and their friends: A multidimensional study of friendship in high-functioning autism spectrum disorder

Nirit Bauminger, Marjorie Solomon, Anat Aviezer, Kelly Heung, Lilach Gazit, John Brown, Sally J. Rogers

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    113 Scopus citations


    This study of Israeli and American preadolescent children examined characteristics of friendship in 44 children with high-functioning autism spectrum disorder (HFASD) compared to 38 typically developing children (TYP), as they interacted with a close friend Participants were 8-12 years of age (HFASD: Israel, n=24; USA, n=20; TYP: Israel, n=23; USA, n=15), and were matched on SES, receptive language vocabulary, child age, and gender (each study group included one girl). Multidimensional assessments included: individual behaviors of target children and observed child-friend interactions during construction and drawing scenarios; target child's and friend's self-perceived mutual friendship qualities; and mother-reported characteristics (friendship's duration/frequency; friend's age/gender/disability status). Overall, children with HFASD displayed a number of differences on individual and dyadic friendship measures. Both age and verbal abilities affected friendship behaviors. Children with HFASD and their friends perceived friendship qualities similarly, suggesting that preadolescents with HFASD have capacities for interpersonal awareness. Between-group similarities also emerged on several complex social behaviors, suggesting that friendship follows a developmental trajectory in autism and may enhance social interaction skills in autism.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)135-150
    Number of pages16
    JournalJournal of Abnormal Child Psychology
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - Feb 2008

    Bibliographical note

    Funding Information:
    Acknowledgements This research was supported by a grant from the United States–Israel Binational Science Foundation (BSF) to Drs. Rogers and Bauminger. Special thanks are extended to the children who took part in this study. The authors would like to express their appreciation to Dee B. Ankonina for her editorial contribution and to Dov Har-Even for his statistical assistance.


    • Asperger syndrome
    • Children with high-functioning autism spectrum disorder (HFASD)
    • Friendship
    • Multidimensional assessment


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