Involvement or isolation? The social networks of children with autism in regular classrooms

Brandt Chamberlain, Connie Kasari, Erin Rotheram-Fuller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

359 Scopus citations


Including children with autism in regular classrooms has become prevalent; yet some evidence suggests such placements could increase the risk of isolation and rejection. In this study, we used social network methods to explore the involvement of children with autism in typical classrooms. Participants were 398 children (196 boys) in regular 2nd through 5th grade classes, including 17 children (14 boys) with high functioning autism or Asperger's syndrome. Children reported on friendship qualities, peer acceptance, loneliness, and classroom social networks. Despite involvement in networks, children with autism experienced lower centrality, acceptance, companionship, and reciprocity; yet they did not report greater loneliness. Future research is needed to help children with autism move from the periphery to more effective engagement with peers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)230-242
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Autism
  • Friendship
  • Loneliness
  • Peer acceptance
  • Social networks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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