The nature of friendship in children with autism spectrum disorders: A systematic review

Neysa Petrina*, Mark Carter, Jennifer Stephenson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

133 Citations (Scopus)


This paper provides a systematic review of 24 studies that addressed the characteristics of friendship in school-age children with a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The following questions were addressed: who are the participants, what methodologies have been employed, and what is our understanding of friendship in children with ASD. The results of this review indicate important differences in the manifestation of friendships in individuals with ASD as compared to typical children. While there is consistent evidence for several topographical differences in friendship characteristics, a number of gaps in our knowledge are evident. These include limited data on children who have intellectual disability, and on the perspective of nominated friends as well as circumscribed data on satisfaction with friendship relationships. In addition, there are a number of methodological limitations that restrict interpretation of extant research. Implications for future studies are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-126
Number of pages16
JournalResearch in Autism Spectrum Disorders
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2014


  • Adolescents
  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Children
  • Friendship
  • Peer relationship
  • Relationship


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