Attachment to fathers and mothers in preschoolers with an Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis

David Oppenheim, Nina Koren-Karie, Tirtsa Joels, Lior Hamburger, Yael Maccabi, Michal Slonim, Nurit Yirmiya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We examined whether the Strange Situation Procedure (SSP) is applicable not only for assessing children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and their mothers but also with their fathers. Forty preschoolers with ASD were observed in the SSP with their mothers and 39 with their fathers. Unexpectedly, the SSP was found to be not applicable (NA) to 25% of the SSPs with fathers because levels of attachment behavior were minimal, but all SSPs with mothers were codable. NA children had lower cognitive functioning and more severe symptoms than those not so coded. Insecure children with their fathers had more severe symptoms than secure children, but were not different in their cognitive functioning. No associations between attachment with mother and severity of symptoms/cognitive functioning were found. Attachment was unrelated to parents’ distress or Broad Autism Phenotype. The study raises questions regarding the applicability of the SSP with fathers of children with ASD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)645-658
Number of pages14
JournalAttachment and Human Development
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Attachment
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • fathers
  • mothers
  • strange situation procedure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Attachment to fathers and mothers in preschoolers with an Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this