Research in Developmental Disabilities vol:33 issue:6 pages:1888-1897
The goals of this study were twofold. The first aim was to explore loneliness prevalence in
typically developing students, students with ASD and students with motor and/or sensory disabilities
in mainstream 7th grade in Belgium. The second aim was to explore the relations between number of
friends, friendship quality, social self-concept on the one hand and loneliness on the other for each of
these three groups, and to compare them across groups. In this study, 108 students with special
educational needs (SEN; i.e., 58 students with ASD and 50 students with motor and/or sensory
disabilities) were matched to 108 typically developing classmates. Students with ASD reported more
loneliness than typically developing students and students with motor and/or sensory disabilities.
Loneliness prevalence for typically developing students and students with motor and/or sensory
disabilities did not differ significantly. Factors related with loneliness differed between typically
developing students and students with SEN (i.e., students with ASD and students with motor and/or
sensory disabilities). For students with SEN, same-sex social self-concept was related with loneliness,
but not, as for typically developing students, number of friends and opposite-sex social self-concept.
Also friendship quality had a marginally significant effect on loneliness feelings for students with SEN.
Implications for further research and practice are discussed.