Being on your own or feeling lonely? loneliness and other social variables in youths with autism spectrum disorders

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Abstract

A cross-sectional study was conducted to examine loneliness and its correlates in children (7 to 11 years) and adolescents (12 to 18 years) with autism spectrum disorders (ASD, n = 73) and control groups of clinically referred (ADHD, n = 76) and non-clinical (n = 106) youths. Youths completed questionnaires on loneliness and desire for social interaction, while parents and teachers filled out scales on other aspects of children's social functioning. Results indicated that only at an adolescent age, the ASD group reported higher levels of loneliness than the control groups. Further, the ASD group generally expressed relatively low levels of desire for social interaction, although these youths displayed a similar increase in the wish to belong during adolescence as participants in the control groups. Finally, the ASD group exhibited lower levels of social competence and social skills and higher levels of social problems and social anxiety than the control groups, and in all groups these social variables correlated in a theoretically meaningful with loneliness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)828–839
Number of pages12
JournalChild Psychiatry & Human Development
Volume48
Issue number5
Early online date9 Jan 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2017

Keywords

  • Loneliness
  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Children vs. adolescents
  • Desire for social interaction
  • ATTENTION-DEFICIT/HYPERACTIVITY DISORDER
  • HIGH-FUNCTIONING CHILDREN
  • PERVASIVE DEVELOPMENTAL DISORDERS
  • DEFICIT HYPERACTIVITY DISORDER
  • PEER RELATIONSHIPS
  • FRIENDSHIP
  • ADOLESCENCE
  • ANXIETY
  • SKILLS
  • INDIVIDUALS

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