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Attachment behavior in children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders

Lital Kahane (Institute of Psychological Medicine & Clinical Neurosciences, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK)
Mohamed El-Tahir (Llwyneryr Unit, Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board, Swansea, UK)

Advances in Mental Health and Intellectual Disabilities

ISSN: 2044-1282

Article publication date: 2 March 2015




Significance of attachment relationship to the development and impairments among children with autism has been studied. The purpose of this paper is to analyze the literature for studies completed on the attachment and assess the effect of autism on attachment development. Different moderators of attachment are also reviewed.


Systematic reviews were searched for in different databases to establish the necessity and relevance of the current paper. The last systematic review on the topic was published in 2004 so studies done after that year were searched for in electronic databases and experts on the filed were also contacted before choosing the ten studies selected for this review.


Attachment is present among children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD), however not prevalent as in normally developing children. The security and organization of attachment behavior are affected by the severity of the diagnosis of Autism and the co-morbidities associated. Maternal sensitivity and insightfulness support the development of secure attachment in children with ASD while impairments in joint attention and symbolic play proved to be risk factors for insecurity and disorganization of attachment.


The review contributes to the relatively understudied topic of attachment behavior in autism spectrum disorders focussing on the influence brought to the bonding connection by different influencing factors like: mothers’ sensitivity, insightfulness and attachment style, parenting style and symbolic play levels.



Kahane, L. and El-Tahir, M. (2015), "Attachment behavior in children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders", Advances in Mental Health and Intellectual Disabilities, Vol. 9 No. 2, pp. 79-89.



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