Loneliness and Friendship in High-Functioning Children with Autism



Loneliness and friendship were examined in 22 high-functioning children with autism and 19 typically developing children equated with the autistic children for IQ, CA, gender, mother's education, and ethnicity. Children between the ages of 8 and 14 were asked to report on both their understanding and feelings of loneliness and the quality of their friendship. Compared to typically developing children, children with autism were both lonelier and had less complete understandings of loneliness. Although all children with autism reported having at least one friend, the quality of their friendships was poorer in terms of companionship, security, and help. Fewer associations were found between loneliness and friendship for the autistic than for the non-autistic children, suggesting less understanding of the relation between loneliness and friendship. Implications of these results are discussed for conceptualizing the social deficits in autism.