This thesis investigated the link between ASD traits and relationship development and experience in both adults with ASD and their TD partners, through a series of online questionnaires. Firstly, for a large sample of female and male adults with ASD, we found that poor relationship development outcome was predicted by higher severity of social skills impairment. When males and females were considered separately, we found that higher severity of communication deficits predicted poor relationship development outcome for males only, and higher severity of social skills deficits predicted poor relationship development outcome for females only. We also found that higher severity of circumscribed interests predicted better relationship development outcomes for the whole sample. Next, in a comparison of relationship functioning across three partner groups (TD partners within a TD/TD dyad, ASD partners within an ASD/TD dyad and TD partners within an ASD/TD dyad), findings indicated that TD partners within an ASD/TD dyad had the poorest relationship outcome. Lastly, we investigated actor and partner effects of ASD traits on relationship outcome for a sample of ASD/TD dyads using an APIM. We found minimal evidence to suggest that ASD traits negatively impact relationship outcome of ASD/TD dyads. However, we consistently found that TD partner’s ASD trait severity positively influenced both ASD and TD partner’s relationship outcome, suggesting that mutual understanding between partners is protective against the challenges faced within ASD/TD relationships.
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