The Link Between Perceptions of Self and of Social Relationships in High-Functioning Children with Autism

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This study examined the perception of friendship in high-functioning children with autism (8–17 years old) and the link between perceptions of self and of social relationships in these children. Sixteen typically developing children were matched to sixteen high-functioning children with autism, on chronological age, IQ, gender, and mother's education. Study measures included a friendship picture recognition task and three self-report questionnaires: qualities of friendship, loneliness, and self-perception profile. Main results indicated that even if children with autism more frequently related to the intersubjective qualities of friendship such as affective sharing or intimacy, they perceived their friendship to be as close as did typically developing children. Also, for the group with autism, friendship correlated positively with cognitive competencies and general self-worth and negatively with loneliness. In addition, children with autism perceived their social and athletic competencies as lower compared with typically developing children. Implications of the associations between self-perceptions and perceptions of friendship are discussed.