Adjustment, sibling problems and coping strategies of brothers and sisters of children with autistic spectrum disorder.J Intellect Dev Disabil. 2006 Jun; 31(2):77-86.JI
Siblings of children with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) express more problem behaviours and experience more difficulties in their relationships than do children in families where all children are developing typically. We know little about what contributes to these difficulties.
Mothers of a child with ASD completed the Child Behavior Checklist (Achenbach, 1991) with respect to a non-disabled sibling. Siblings responded to a questionnaire tapping their knowledge about their brother or sister's disorder. They reported on problems they had experienced with their brother or sister with ASD and on the coping strategies they had used in response to these events. Problems were classified into 1 of 5 problem types.
Aggressive behaviour was the most commonly reported interaction problem and anger was the usual response. Siblings did not generally choose blaming (either self or other) as a coping strategy when facing difficulties with their brother or sister with ASD. Neither coping strategies nor knowledge of ASD were associated with adjustment. Forty percent of non-disabled siblings had scores on the Child Behavior Checklist that placed them in the borderline or clinical range.
The current study indicated that siblings of children with ASD are at increased risk of developing internalising behaviour problems. The contributing factors to this outcome are unknown at this point. It is important for research to focus on dynamic variables in the search for these contributors, as they are open to change.