Autistic Socialisation & Rapport


Full paper:

Nothing about us without us
Who: Rifai and colleagues
Journal: Autism in Adulthood
Published: 2021
Title: Investigating markers of rapport in autistic and nonautistic interactions

Autistic Socialisation
& Rapport

Rapport is a quality of interaction between two people, and it’s often measured using elements such as attentiveness, positivity, and coordination.

Autistic people report that socialising with other autistic people is more comfortable & less tiring than socialising with nonautistic people. Do autistic people have higher rapport with other autistic people?


This study investigated rapport by using videos from a previous study of nonautistic-nonautistic interactions, autistic-autistic interactions, and mixed pair interactions.

They measured two elements;
– mutual gaze: the extent to which they looked at one another’s face
– backchanneling: a verbal or non-verbal response which shows one is attentive & makes the speaker feel understood


Nonautistic pairs had high mutual gaze, high backchannelling, & high rapport.

Compared to nonautistic pairs, mixed pairs had lower mutual gaze, lower backchannelling, & lower rapport.

Compared to nonautistic pairs, autistic pairs had similar amounts of mutual gaze, lower backchannelling, but they had equally high rapport.


It seems that successful autistic interactions are less reliant on nonautistic social norms than nonautistic interactions are.

It might be that a mismatch in mutual gaze or backchannelling use between autistic & nonautistic people might contribute to the low levels of rapport felt in mixed interactions.

Further research is required to explore autistic specific mechanisms which contribute to successful social interaction.

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