It is unknown to what extent (if any) current developmental models of the associations among sociality, loneliness and anxiety/depression in typically developing individuals may be generalised to autistic individuals. Existing theoretical models have all been based on neurotypical samples. However, social needs and how to meet them may differ between autistic and neurotypical individuals e.g. in levels of required social contact in order to maintain effective social support. Secondly, the social cognitive resources for repairing social life (reaffiliation) may also differ autistic and neurotypical populations. Therefore we are conducting new research into the links between social connections, loneliness and emotional mental health in autistic populations.
Our aims are to:
· Identify (met and unmet) social needs in autistic people and compare these to social needs in the neurotypical population
· Investigate how these social needs vary across development
· Investigate the cognitive processes involved in maintaining and repairing social relationships, comparing these between autistic individuals and the neurotypical population
This information could facilitate the development of effective interventions for preventing and/or reducing emotional symptoms and disorders in autism.
If you are interested in finding out more about our research please contact us