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Loneliness is the feeling of being alone or isolated, even when you're surrounded by people. It's a sense of not having the connection or companionship you desire.

Research tells us that loneliness could become an international health crisis, with wide spreading negative impacts on physical and mental health and the economy. While most people may experience loneliness throughout their lifetime, emerging research shows that Autistic adults may experience higher levels of loneliness than non-Autistic people.

How can we measure loneliness of Autistic people? Do we measure it in the same way as we do for non-Autistic people? What influences loneliness in Autistic adults? What recommendations should be made to support services, therapists, parents and caregivers to support Autistic adults in reducing their loneliness levels?

The research

Autistic and non-Autistic adults (over 18 years old) completed an anonymous 15–30 minute online survey about their experiences of loneliness, depression and self-compassion.

Making a difference

This study aims to fill a gap in the research by investigating what influences loneliness for Autistic adults and how loneliness can be measured. We want to know what is related to loneliness for Autistic people, so we’ll explore things like social anxiety and depression.

The findings of this study will enable us to better understand the extent and nature of loneliness among Autistic people and provide an important first step in identifying ways in which to address loneliness in this population.

Research team

Dr. Abbey Love, Lead Researcher ARCAP (Australia)

Dr. Vicki Gibbs, ARCAP (Australia)

Dr. Ru Ying Cai, ARCAP (Australia)

Dr. Chris Edwards, ARCAP (Australia)

Dr. Kana Grace, Autistic researcher (UK)

Prof. Michael Toland, University of Toledo (USA)

Dr. David Dueber, University of Toledo (USA)

Assoc. Prof. Michelle Lim, Ending Loneliness Together (Australia)

Logo of organisations involved in loneliness project

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Ethics approval

GU Ref No: 2023/363


Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect)