Advertisement

Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 40, Issue 2, pp 218–226 | Cite as

Loneliness and Social Support in Adolescent Boys with Autism Spectrum Disorders

  • Mathias Lasgaard
  • Annette Nielsen
  • Mette E. Eriksen
  • Luc Goossens
Original Paper

Abstract

Loneliness and perceived social support were examined in 39 adolescent boys with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) by means of a self-labeling loneliness measure, the UCLA Loneliness Scale (third version), and the Social Support Scale for Children. Twenty-one percent of the boys with ASD described themselves as often or always feeling lonely. Compared with 199 boys from regular schools in a national probability study, ASD was strongly associated with often or always feeling lonely (OR: 7.08, p < .0005), as well as with a higher degree of loneliness (F(1,229) = 11.1, p < .005). Perceived social support from classmates, parents, and a close friend correlated negatively with loneliness in ASD. The study, therefore, indicates a high occurrence of loneliness among adolescent boys with ASD and points at perceived social support as an important protective factor.

Keywords

Autism spectrum disorders Loneliness Social support Peer relationships Adolescence 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We are grateful for the assistance provided by the staff and students from Langagerskolen, Aarhus and Firkløverskolen, Randers.

References

  1. American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (DSM-IV-TR) (4th ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Barry, T. D., Klinger, L. G., Lee, J. M., Palardy, N., Gilmore, T., & Bodin, S. D. (2003). Examining the effectiveness of an outpatient clinic-based social skills group for high-functioning children with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 33, 685–701.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Bauminger, N., & Kasari, C. (2000). Loneliness and friendship in high-functioning children with autism. Child Development, 71, 447–456.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Bauminger, N., & Kasari, C. (2001). The experience of loneliness and friendship in autism: Theoretical and practical issues. In E. Schopler, N. Yirmiya, C. Shulman, & L. M. Marcus (Eds.), The research basis for autism intervention (pp. 151–168). New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum.Google Scholar
  5. Bauminger, N., Shulman, C., & Agam, G. (2003). Peer interaction and loneliness in high-functioning children with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 33, 489–507.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Bauminger, N., Shulman, C., & Agam, G. (2004). The link between perceptions of self and of social relationships in high-functioning children with autism. Journal of Developmental and Physical Disabilities, 16, 193–214.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Berthoz, S., & Hill, E. L. (2005). The validity of using self-reports to assess emotion regulation abilities in adults with autism spectrum disorder. European Psychiatry, 20, 291–298.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Bishop, S. L., Richler, J., Cain, A. C., & Lord, C. (2007). Predictors of perceived negative impact in mothers of children with autism spectrum disorder. American Journal on Mental Retardation, 112, 450–461.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Bunting, B. P., Adamson, G., & Mulhall, P. (2002). A Monte Carlo examination of an MTMM model with planned incomplete data structures. Structural Equation Modeling, 9, 369–389.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cacioppo, J. T., Hughes, M. E., Waite, L. J., Hawkley, L. C., & Thisted, R. A. (2006). Loneliness as a specific risk factor for depressive symptoms: Cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses. Psychology and Aging, 21, 140–151.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Capps, L., Sigman, M., & Yirmiya, N. (1997). Self-competence and emotional understanding in high-functioning children with autism. In M. E. Hertzig & E. A. Farber (Eds.), Annual progress in child psychiatry and child development, 1996 (pp. 260–279). Hove, UK: Psychology Press.Google Scholar
  12. Chamberlain, B., Kasari, C., & Rotheram-Fuller, E. (2007). Involvement or isolation? The social networks of children with autism in regular classrooms. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 37, 230–242.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Diamantopoulou, S., Henricsson, L., & Rydell, A. (2005). ADHD symptoms and peer relations of children in a community sample: Examining associated problems, self-perceptions, and gender differences. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 29, 388–398.Google Scholar
  14. Eriksen, M. E. (2005). Interview af personer med særlige forudsætninger. [Interviewing people with special cognitive abilities]. Nyhedsbrev. Center for Kvalitativ Metodeudvikling, 38, 40–55.Google Scholar
  15. Ghaziuddin, M., Weidmer-Mikhail, E., & Ghaziuddin, N. (1998). Comorbidity of Asperger syndrome: A preliminary report. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 42, 279–283.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Goswick, R. A., & Jones, W. H. (1982). Components of loneliness during adolescence. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 11, 373–383.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Harter, S. (1985). Manual for the social support scale for children. Denver, CO: University of Denver.Google Scholar
  18. Heiman, T. (2005). An examination of peer relationships of children with and without attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. School Psychology International, 26, 330–339.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Heinrich, L. M., & Gullone, E. (2006). The clinical significance of loneliness: A literature review. Clinical Psychology Review, 26, 695–718.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Hill, E., Berthoz, S., & Frith, U. (2004). Brief report: Cognitive processing of own emotions in individuals with autistic spectrum disorder and in their relatives. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 34, 229–235.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Kaminsky, L., & Dewey, D. (2002). Psychosocial adjustment in siblings of children with autism. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 43, 225–232.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Kanner, L. (1943). Autistic disturbances of affective contact. Nervous Child, 2, 217–250.Google Scholar
  23. Knott, F., Lewis, C., & Williams, T. (1995). Sibling interaction of children with learning disabilities: A comparison of autism and Down’s syndrome. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 36, 965–976.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Lasgaard, M. (2007). Reliability and validity of the Danish version of the UCLA Loneliness Scale. Personality and Individual Differences, 42, 1359–1366.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Luther, E. H., Canham, D. L., & Cureton, V. Y. (2005). Coping and social support for parents of children with autism. Journal of School Nursing, 21, 40–47.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Mahon, N. E., Yarcheski, A., Yarcheski, T. J., Cannella, B. L., & Hanks, M. M. (2006). A meta-analytic study of predictors for loneliness during adolescence. Nursing Research, 55, 308–315.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Margalit, M., & Al-Yagon, M. (2002). The loneliness experience of children with learning disabilities. In B. Y. L. Wong & M. L. Donahue (Eds.), The social dimensions of learning disabilities (pp. 53–75). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  28. McNamara, J. K., Willoughby, T., & Chalmers, H. (2005). Psychosocial status of adolescents with learning disabilities with and without comorbid attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Learning Disabilities Research and Practice, 20, 234–244.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Orsmond, G. I., Krauss, M. W., & Seltzer, M. M. (2004). Peer relationships and social and recreational activities among adolescents and adults with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 34, 245–256.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Parkhurst, J. T., & Asher, S. R. (1992). Peer rejection in middle school: Subgroup differences in behavior, loneliness, and interpersonal concerns. Developmental Psychology, 28, 231–241.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Pedersen, S., Vitaro, F., Barker, E. D., & Borge, A. I. H. (2007). The timing of middle-childhood peer rejection and friendship: Linking early behavior to early-adolescent adjustment. Child Development, 78, 1037–1051.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Peplau, L. A., & Perlman, D. (1982). Perspectives on loneliness. In L. A. Peplau & D. Perlman (Eds.), Loneliness. A sourcebook of current theory, research and therapy (pp. 1–18). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  33. Russell, D. W. (1996). UCLA Loneliness Scale (version 3): Reliability, validity, and factor structure. Journal of Personality Assessment, 66, 20–40.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. Shaver, P. R., & Brennan, K. A. (1991). Measures of depression and loneliness. In J. P. Robinson, P. R. Shaver, & L. S. Wrightsman (Eds.), Measures of personality and social psychological attitudes (pp. 195–290). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  35. Shtayermman, O. (2007). Peer victimization in adolescents and young adults diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome: A link to depressive symptomatology, anxiety symptomatology and suicidal ideation. Issues in Comprehensive Pediatric Nursing, 30, 87–107.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  36. Sutton, S. K., Burnette, C. P., Mundy, P. C., Meyer, J., Vaughan, A., Sanders, C., et al. (2005). Resting cortical brain activity and social behavior in higher functioning children with autism. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 46, 211–222.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. Tsao, L., & Odom, S. L. (2006). Sibling-mediated social interaction intervention for young children with autism. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 26, 106–123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Volkmar, F., Chawarska, K., & Klin, A. (2005). Autism in infancy and early childhood. Annual Review of Psychology, 56, 315–336.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  39. White, S. W., Keonig, K., & Scahill, L. (2007). Social skills development in children with autism spectrum disorders: A review of the intervention research. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 37, 1858–1868.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Wing, L. (1992). Manifestations of social problems in high-functioning autistic people. New York: Plenum.Google Scholar
  41. World Health Organization. (1994). WHO ICD-10: Psykiske lidelser og adfærdsmæssige forstyrrelser: Klassifikation og diagnostiske kriterier [WHO ICD-10: Mental disorders and behavioural disorders: Classification and diagnostic criteria]. Copenhagen, Denmark: Munksgaard.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mathias Lasgaard
    • 1
  • Annette Nielsen
    • 2
  • Mette E. Eriksen
    • 1
  • Luc Goossens
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyAarhus UniversityAarhus CDenmark
  2. 2.FirkløverskolenRandersDenmark
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyCatholic University of LeuvenLeuvenBelgium

Personalised recommendations