Encyclopedia of Autism Spectrum Disorders

Living Edition
| Editors: Fred R. Volkmar

Social Behaviors and Social Impairment

  • Cheryl Dissanayake
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-6435-8_106-3


Social behaviors encompass all behaviors used to interact and communicate with other people. These comprise behaviors as simple as looking at another and smiling at them to more complex behaviors such as entering into a crowded room with a group of strangers and beginning to interact with them. Many of these behaviors, from the most simple to complex, are challenging for people with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Impairments in the development of social behavior, or social impairments, lie at the heart of autism.

Historical Background

Impairments in social behaviors have been noted from Leo Kanner’s (1943) original observations, on which he based his first detailed account of 11 cases of autism. He observed the failure of these children to interact with other people in the usual way, with many preferring to be alone. He wrote about their failure to look at other people and to even notice their presence/absence, such that “Comings and goings, even of the mother, did not...

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Olga Tennison Autism Research CentreLa Trobe UniversityMelbourneAustralia