Attachment and Social Development

Work under this theme is concerned with understanding the developmental implications of adverse experiences in childhood such as maltreatment, neglect and disrupted relationships for social functioning and long-term psychosocial outcomes. The theme links in with the groups expertise in Autism research, examining environmentally driven developmental pathways to social impairment syndromes such as Disinhibited Attachment Disorder and Autism. Much of the work focuses on the outcomes of children who have experienced disrupted relationships with their birth parents – such as looked after and adopted children.  

Our studies:

  • CAPE 
    The Care and Placement Evaluation (CaPE) is a national evaluation of Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care in England and Scotland funded by the DfE and Scottish Executive. The English trial is now completed. The study used an innovative design – embedding a randomised controlled trial within a large case-control study to complete one of the largest evaluations of a social care intervention in the UK. It also provided some of the first systematic data on the prevalence of reactive attachment disorder amongst high-risk adolescents in English local authority care.     
  • SOCiAL
    SOCiAL is funded by the Waterloo Foundation and is run in collaboration with Adoption UK. It is an investigation of social impairment including Disinhibited Attachment Disorder, Autistic Spectrum Disorder and social cognitive functioning in children who have experienced maltreatment and disrupted care in early childhood. The study will also test novel hypotheses concerning gene-environment interactions in the development of social difficulties.
  • SOCiAL Follow up
    SOCiAL Follow up is a two year longitudinal extension of the SOCiAL study. Participants will be re-assessed to examine longitudinal stability of social difficulties identified in SOCiAL and association with key indicators of placement stability in adoptive families.