Disrupted maternal communication and attachment disorganization in children with autism spectrum disorder

Gabriela Levy, David Oppenheim, Nina Koren-Karie, Inbar Ariav-Paraira, Noa Gal, Nurit Yirmiya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We examined whether disrupted maternal communication, which is associated with disorganized attachment in typically developing children, is also associated with disorganized attachment in children with ASD. The attachments of 45 boys with ASD and maternal disruption were assessed in the Strange Situation Procedure. Analyses revealed a link between low cognitive functioning and resistant/ambivalent and disorganized attachment, and children’s functioning was therefore controlled. Contrary to expectations, mothers of children with disorganized attachments did not show more disrupted communication than mothers of children with organized attachments. However, the 4-way attachment breakdown showed that the mothers of disorganized and ambivalent/resistant children had higher disruption scores than mothers of secure and avoidant children. The findings suggest that the expected associations between maternal disruption and attachment disorganization apply to children with ASD as well, but raise questions whether disrupted behavior is a unique antecedent of disorganized attachment or also of resistant/ambivalent attachment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)568-581
Number of pages14
JournalAttachment and Human Development
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Disorganized attachment
  • autism spectrum disorder
  • disrupted parenting
  • resistant/ambivalent attachment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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