Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 41, Issue 5, pp 533-544

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Social Networks and Friendships at School: Comparing Children With and Without ASD

  • Connie KasariAffiliated withSemel Institute, University of California Los Angeles Email author 
  • , Jill LockeAffiliated withSemel Institute, University of California Los Angeles
  • , Amanda GulsrudAffiliated withSemel Institute, University of California Los Angeles
  • , Erin Rotheram-FullerAffiliated withTemple University


Self, peer and teacher reports of social relationships were examined for 60 high-functioning children with ASD. Compared to a matched sample of typical children in the same classroom, children with ASD were more often on the periphery of their social networks, reported poorer quality friendships and had fewer reciprocal friendships. On the playground, children with ASD were mostly unengaged but playground engagement was not associated with peer, self, or teacher reports of social behavior. Twenty percent of children with ASD had a reciprocated friendship and also high social network status. Thus, while the majority of high functioning children with ASD struggle with peer relationships in general education classrooms, a small percentage of them appear to have social success.


Social networks Playground observations Friendships Social skills