Young Friendship in HFASD and Typical Development: Friend Versus Non-friend Comparisons
This study conducted comparative assessment of friendship in preschoolers with high-functioning autism spectrum disorder (HFASD, n = 29) versus preschoolers with typical development (n = 30), focusing on interactions with friends versus acquaintances. Groups were matched on SES, verbal/nonverbal MA, IQ, and CA. Multidimensional assessments included: mothers’ and teachers’ reports about friends’ and friendship characteristics and observed individual and dyadic behaviors throughout interactions with friends versus non-friends during construction, drawing, and free-play situations. Findings revealed group differences in peer interaction favoring the typical development group, thus supporting the neuropsychological profile of HFASD. However, both groups’ interactions with friends surpassed interactions with acquaintances on several key socio-communicative and intersubjective capabilities, thus suggesting that friendship may contribute to enhancement and practice of social interaction in HFASD.
KeywordsHigh-functioning children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) Preschool Friendship Dyads Peer relations Peer interaction
This research was partially supported by the Israel Science Foundation (ISF). 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.
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