Social connectedness

Emotion socialization and equity

Social connectedness in autistic youth

Autistic youth often report challenges in creating and maintaining friendships and feel a sense of social connectedness. Compared to allistic (i.e. non-autistic) youth, autistic children and adolescents are known to have fewer friends, and more often report bullying or ostracism (to be neglected). These aspects could make them feel like they do not belong, or are disconnected from their peer group. Key question here is what autistic youth need and want. How do they perceive their friendship, or what do they want from a friend? Autistic perspectives are often disregarded by (allistic) researchers, yet to include these might be important for autistic youth, bringing them closer to their communities and peers. In this project we work with and for autistic youth, focusing on understanding aspects related to social connectedness and its importance to their well-being.

People involved

Psychology, Leiden University - Carolien Rieffe, Boya Li, Yung-Ting Tsou, Jiayin Zhao, Kexin Liu, Rachel O'Connor.

Stakeholders organizations - NVA (Dutch National Autism Organisation), AWA (Academic Workplace Autism).

Partners from different clinical settings - Lex Stockmann (Center for Autism), Els Blijd-Hoogewys (INTER-PSY), Kirstin Greaves-Lord (Erasmus Medical Center Rotterdam), Robert Vermeiren (Leiden University Medical Center).

Key Publications

  • O’Connor, R. A. G., van den Bedem, N., Blijd-Hoogewys, E. M. A., Stockmann, L., & Rieffe, C. (2022). Friendship quality among autistic and non-autistic (pre-) adolescents: Protective or risk factor for mental health? Autism.
  • Rieffe, C., Kamp, S., Pentinga, J., Becker, M., van Klaveren, L., & Blijd-Hoogewys, E. (2021). Sociale inclusie en ASS op middelbare scholen, wat is er nodig? Wetenschappelijk Tijdschrift Autisme, 20(3), 51-59


These projects are funded by NWO, ZonMw, Nuts-OHRA.