Socio emotional competence in young children with ASD during interaction with their typically developing peers

Tali Gev, Hila Avital, Ruthie Rosenan, Liron Oliver Aronson, Ofer Golan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Building socio-emotional competence (SEC) is a central developmental goal of early childhood that includes the understanding of one's own and others’ emotions, emotional expression and the use of emotion regulation strategies and social skills. SEC attainment is a major challenge for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). However, its behavioral examination in naturalistic settings is scarce. The current study examined SEC components of young children with ASD compared to typically developing (TD) children during social interaction and investigated group differences and the associations between SEC components. Method: 26 children with ASD and 26 TD children participated in the current study. SEC was assessed using an adult-mediated interaction with a peer, designed to provide opportunities for cooperation, reciprocity, shared enjoyment, and emotion expression. Additional measures included an emotion understanding task, and parental report on the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales. Results: Compared to the TD group, the ASD group showed poorer emotional understanding, greater emotion dysregulation, and was rated by parents as having poorer social competence. Emotional understanding and emotion regulation difficulties were associated with poorer social competence, and expression of negative emotions was associated with poorer emotion regulation, in both children with and without ASD. Conclusions: The emotional understanding and emotion regulation difficulties shown by children with ASD, and their associations with poorer social competence, highlight the need to address these in interventions targeting social competence in young children with ASD.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101818
JournalResearch in Autism Spectrum Disorders
StatePublished - Aug 2021


  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Emotion regulation
  • Emotional expression
  • Emotional understanding
  • Social competence

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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