Friendship and internalizing symptoms among children and adolescents with ASD

J Autism Dev Disord. 2010 Dec;40(12):1512-20. doi: 10.1007/s10803-010-1014-y.


Anxiety and depression are common among children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), highlighting a need to identify factors that protect against these symptoms. Among typically developing children, friendships are protective, and lead to better emotional outcomes. The current study examined a large, well-characterized sample of children and adolescents with ASD to examine the relations among friendship, ASD symptom severity, and anxiety/depression. Rates of anxiety/depression were high in this sample. Greater ASD severity was associated with fewer symptoms of anxiety/depression, lower IQ, and poorer number and/or quality of reciprocal friendships. Surprisingly, children with no or very poor dyadic relationships experienced less anxiety than those with existing, but limited, friendships. Implications and directions for future research are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anxiety / complications
  • Anxiety / psychology*
  • Child
  • Child Development Disorders, Pervasive / complications
  • Child Development Disorders, Pervasive / psychology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Depression / complications
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Female
  • Friends / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • Peer Group
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales