Friendship Expectations May be Similar for Mental Age-Matched Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Typically Developing Children

  • Kristen Bottema-BeutelEmail author
  • Caitlin Malloy
  • Josephine Cuda
  • So Yoon Kim
  • Julie Paquette MacEvoy
Brief Report


We assessed 3rd–5th grade children’s endorsement of 12 friendship expectations, in two mental age-matched (M = 10.15 years) groups; one with autism spectrum disorder (ASD; n = 20) and one with typical development (TD; n = 21). Groups rated friendship expectations similarly for all but one expectation, expressing care, which received significantly higher ratings in the ASD group. Overall expectation ratings were significantly and positively correlated with friendship quality in the ASD group (r = 0.43), but not the TD, group (r = 0.08). Expectations were not correlated with loneliness or self-worth in either group. In children with ASD, expectations pertaining to reliability/trust, kindness/caring, and help/reciprocity were rated highest, followed by togetherness/amusement, and finally by intimacy/disclosure.


Autism spectrum disorder Friendships Friendship expectations Friendship quality Loneliness 



We would like to thank Jessica Barnes and Maryam Moravvej Farshi for their assistance in conducting this research. We would also like to thank the teachers and parents who assisted in coordinating or providing data, and the many participants who agreed to complete the interview surveys.

Authors Contribution

KBB participated in the study design, supervised data collection, conducted the statistical analysis, and drafted the manuscript. CM coordinated recruitment and data collection, conducted participant interviews, and participated in editing the manuscript. JC participated in data collection, and in editing the manuscript. SYK assisted in data analysis and in editing the manuscript. JPM participated in the study design and statistical analysis, and edited the manuscript.


This research was not supported by any specific funding source.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed parental consent and participant assent was obtained from all individuals prior to their participation in this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Lynch School of Education and Human DevelopmentBoston CollegeChestnut HillUSA
  2. 2.Counseling, Developmental, and Educational Psychology Department, Lynch School of Education and Human DevelopmentBoston CollegeChestnut HillUSA

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