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By Kelly Bost, Ph.D. and Samantha Iwinski, M.S.

In the webinar, “Making the Journey Towards Healthy Attachment” we discuss in greater detail the following:

  • What is attachment?
  • Components of Attachment
    • Attachment Behaviors
    • Attachment Behavioral System
    • Attachment Relationship
  • Classifications of Attachment Patterns
    • Secure
    • Insecure Anxious/Resistant/Ambivalent
    • Insecure Avoidant
    • Disorganized
  • Why is attachment important, and how can early care professionals foster healthy attachments?

We want to take this opportunity to address a few insightful questions we received during the webinar and would like to address several that we did not get to discuss in detail during the webinar.

  • Do you have resources for having delicate conversations with parents about attachment relationships?
    • Establishing strong relationships with parents with open communication is crucial for sensitive conversations about their children. Nurturing and developing those relationships over time can set that foundation, as well as having information available and communicated regularly regarding the importance of caregivers and family relationships for children’s healthy development. Specific to attachment, below are some resources that highlight parenting and early care professional resources that are evidence-based.
  • What are your thoughts on attachment and sleep training in the first year of life?
    • This is an important question because of the different viewpoints and perspectives on social media and parenting websites. The first year of life is critical for the co-regulation role of caregivers. The infant has a variety of ways of communicating their needs and is constantly experiencing new situations. When caregivers are responsive to the child’s needs, then the child becomes physiologically more regulated and, over time, develops a sense of security. Instead of the idea that prompt attention to the baby’s crying during the night reinforces crying behavior, we know that responsive attention to the baby’s needs over the first year typically results in less crying and waking during the night. Establishing consistent bedtime routines in early life can also be important in the development of later self-regulation and sleep behavior. Overall, caregiver responsiveness and bedtime routines can help to build secure relationships and healthy sleep behavior.
  • How does this (the content of the webinar) relate to children with autism?
    • As discussed in the webinar, all children need loving, secure relationships. Research has shown that children with autism are able to form secure attachments with their caregivers. Some research also suggests that children with autism are at a higher risk of developing an insecure attachment with their caregivers than typically developing children. However, this is affected by the severity of symptoms and the impact on the child-caregiver relationship and family system. Secure children with autism have been shown to have more social skills and empathy than insecure children without autism. Thus, responsive caregivers who can understand their child’s needs based on their unique ability to communicate with them can foster relationship development. Because caregivers of autistic children may also struggle to understand their children’s communication strategies and needs, support and interventions surrounding responsive interactions with their child could increase secure attachment and emotional health.


Martin, K., Haltigan, J., Ekas, N., Prince, E., & Messinger, D. (2020). Attachment security differs by later autism spectrum disorder: A prospective study. Developmental Science, 23(5).

McKenzie, R., & Dallos, R. (2017). Autism and attachment difficulties: Overlap of symptoms, implications and innovative solutions. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 22(4), 632–648.

Rozga, A., Hesse, E., Main, M., Duschinsky, R., Beckwith, L., & Sigman, M. (2018) A short-term longitudinal study of correlates and sequelae of attachment security in autism. Attachment & Human Development, 20(2), 160-180.