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Attachment in adults with high-functioning autism

By Emma Taylor, Mary Target and Tony Charman


This study assessed attachment security in adults with high-functioning autism spectrum disorders, using the Adult Attachment Interview (AAI; George, Kaplan & Main, 1996). Of twenty participants, three were classified as securely attached, the same proportion as would be expected in a general clinical sample. Participants’ AAIs were less coherent and lower in reflective function than those of controls, who were matched for attachment status and mood disorder. A parallel interview suggested that some aspects of participants’ responses were influenced by their general discourse style, while other AAI scale scores appeared to reflect their state of mind with respect to attachment more specifically. There was little evidence that attachment security was related to IQ, autistic symptomatology or theory of mind. This study suggests that adults with autism can engage with the AAI and produce scoreable narratives of their attachment experiences, and a minority demonstrate secure attachment

Year: 2008
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