Autism and attachment: a meta-analytic review
ABSTRACT Sixteen studies on attachment in children with autism were reviewed, and ten studies with data on observed attachment security (N = 287) were included in a quantitative meta-analysis.
Despite the impairments of children with autism in reciprocal social interaction, the majority of the studies found evidence for attachment behaviours in these children. In four samples using the Strange Situation procedure the average percentage of secure attachments amounted to 53% (n = 72). Meta-analytic results showed that children with autism were significantly less securely attached to their parents than comparison children, and the combined effect size for this difference was moderate (r =.24). Children with autism displayed less attachment security than comparisons without autism, but this difference disappeared in samples with children with higher mental development, and in samples in which autism was mixed with less severe symptoms of autistic spectrum disorders.
It is concluded that attachment security is compatible with autism, and can be assessed with Strange Situation type of procedures. The co-morbidity of autism and mental retardation appears to be associated with attachment insecurity.
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ABSTRACT: The current study is a randomized clinical trial evaluating the efficacy of Focused Playtime Intervention (FPI) in a sample of 70 children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. This parent-mediated intervention has previously been shown to significantly increase responsive parental communication (Siller et al. in J Autism Dev Disord 43:540-555, 2013a). The current analyses focus on children's attachment related outcomes. Results revealed that children who were randomly assigned to FPI showed bigger increases in attachment-related behaviors, compared to children assigned to the control condition. Significant treatment effects of FPI were found for both an observational measure of attachment-related behaviors elicited during a brief separation-reunion episode and a questionnaire measure evaluating parental perceptions of child attachment. The theoretical and clinical implications of these findings are discussed.Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 02/2014; 44(7). DOI:10.1007/s10803-014-2049-2 · 3.06 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Most studies examining attachment in children with autism spectrum disorder used a strange situation paradigm and have found few significant group differences between children with autism spectrum disorder and comparisons. However, these studies predominantly used formal attachment categorizations (e.g. secure vs insecure), a method that may obscure more nuanced differences between groups. In this study, we utilized a qualitative approach to examine attachment behaviors in young children with autism spectrum disorder. Based on the results of previous studies, we looked at (a) parental gender, (b) child diagnosis, and (c) child cognitive skills to examine the role of these three factors on attachment behaviors elicited during a modified strange situation paradigm. Participants were 2- to 3-year-old children with autism spectrum disorder (n = 166) or nonspectrum disorders (n = 45), as well as a sample of 56 children with typical development. Over the three groups, 393 observations of a modified strange situation paradigm with mothers and 127 observations with fathers were collected. Parental gender, child diagnosis, and child cognitive skills each had significant main effects on attachment behaviors elicited during reunion. These results underscore the importance of the father's role in parent-child interactions, with implications for both clinical and research efforts. In addition, the results emphasize the importance of considering a child's diagnosis and cognitive skills when examining attachment behaviors.Autism 12/2012; 18(2). DOI:10.1177/1362361312467235 · 3.50 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: This study examined the hypothesis that maternal sensitivity mediates the association between maternal Insightfulness/Resolution and child attachment in a sample of preschool age boys with Autism Spectrum Disorders. This study used the Insightfulness Assessment to assess insightfulness and the Reaction to Diagnosis Interview to assess mothers' resolution. Maternal sensitivity was assessed from mother-child play observations, and the security of children's attachment was assessed using the Strange Situation Procedure. The results supported the mediation model, and their implications for attachment research, research on intervention in autism, and clinical work are discussed.Attachment & Human Development 11/2012; 14(6):567-84. DOI:10.1080/14616734.2012.727256 · 2.38 Impact Factor