Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 37, Issue 2, pp 230–242 | Cite as

Involvement or Isolation? The Social Networks of Children with Autism in Regular Classrooms

  • Brandt Chamberlain
  • Connie Kasari
  • Erin Rotheram-Fuller
Original Paper


Including children with autism in regular classrooms has become prevalent; yet some evidence suggests such placements could increase the risk of isolation and rejection. In this study, we used social network methods to explore the involvement of children with autism in typical classrooms. Participants were 398 children (196 boys) in regular 2nd through 5th grade classes, including 17 children (14 boys) with high functioning autism or Asperger’s syndrome. Children reported on friendship qualities, peer acceptance, loneliness, and classroom social networks. Despite involvement in networks, children with autism experienced lower centrality, acceptance, companionship, and reciprocity; yet they did not report greater loneliness. Future research is needed to help children with autism move from the periphery to more effective engagement with peers.


Autism Social networks Peer acceptance Friendship Loneliness 



This work was supported by a Research Training Grant from the Spencer Foundation, a Training Fellowship and grant 1U54MH068172 from the National Institute of Mental Health. The authors would like to thank the children who participated and their families, as well as participating teachers, principals, and inclusion facilitators. Kristen Robertson provided valuable assistance with data collection and analysis. The authors also wish to thank Robert M. Hodapp, Alison L. Bailey, and B. J. Freeman for their suggestions and advice during the planning and implementation of this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brandt Chamberlain
    • 1
  • Connie Kasari
    • 1
  • Erin Rotheram-Fuller
    • 1
  1. 1.Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, University of California, Los AngelesLos AngelesUSA

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