The experience and predictors of friendships in young adults with autism spectrum disorder

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Clinical Psychology


Background: The social skills and difficulties of individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have been well documented as they form part of the diagnostic criteria according to international classification systems. The social experiences of individuals with ASD, however, have been widely overlooked in the research literature. Furthermore, exploration of social relationships such as friendships and feelings of loneliness have been predominately focused on children and adolescents with ASD; much less is known about the social world of adults with ASD.

Aims: The current study aimed to review papers examining the social experiences of adults with ASD in terms of the frequency and quality of social participation, support and contact and experiences of loneliness. As well as to describe the social relationships of adults with ASD both in terms of friendships and romantic relationships. Secondary aims were to identify correlates or predictors of adults social experiences. The review followed PRISMA guidelines.
Methods: Five research databases: ERIC, PsychINFO, Embase, PubMed, and Web of Science were searched using terms to identify social experiences in adults with a diagnosis of ASD. A total of twenty-four studies were included in the review, a large proportion of identified studies were either not in adulthood, not measuring social experiencesor did not confirm diagnostic ASD status.
Date of Award1 Oct 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorTony Charman (Supervisor) & Emily Simonoff (Supervisor)

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