Advertisement

Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 47, Issue 5, pp 921–931 | Cite as

Having Siblings is Associated with Better Social Functioning in Autism Spectrum Disorder

  • Esther Ben-ItzchakEmail author
  • Noa Nachshon
  • Ditza A. Zachor
Article

Abstract

Sibling relationships play a unique developmental role, especially in emotional and social domains. In autism spectrum disorder (ASD), social-communication skills are often impaired in comparison to typical development. Therefore, studying siblings’ effects on social skills of the child with ASD is important. This retrospective study examined how autism severity and functioning were affected by having older and younger sibling/s, the sex of the index child and of the sibling, and the number of siblings. The study population included 150 participants with ASD (mean age = 4:0 ± 1:6), divided into three equal groups (no sibling, older and younger siblings), matched for cognitive level. The evaluation included neurological and standardized behavioral, cognitive, and functional assessments. Children with ASD with older siblings showed less severe social interaction deficits and better social adaptive skills than only children. No significant differences in autism severity and adaptive functioning were noted between the group with younger siblings and the other groups. The more older siblings the affected child had, the better their social functioning. The sex of the participants with ASD and that of the sibling were not associated with social functioning. Social interaction deficits, the presence of older or younger siblings for children with ASD, and higher cognitive ability contributed significantly to the explained variance (48.9%) in social adaptive skills. These findings emphasize that older siblings positively influence the social skills of their younger sibling with ASD. The effect of typically developing younger siblings was modest and seen only in children with ASD and better cognition.

Keywords

Autism spectrum disorder Older sibling Younger sibling Adaptive skills Autism severity 

Notes

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Author Esther Ben-Itzchak declares that she has no conflict of interest. Author Noa Nachshon declares that he has no conflict of interest. Author Ditza A. Zachor declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. This research was approved by the Institutional Review Board (IRB) of the medical center as required. Since it was a retrospective study based on information from the participants’ charts, the IRB did not require parental consent.

References

  1. American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV). Washington DC. American Psychiatric Association.Google Scholar
  2. American Psychiatric Association (2000). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Revised. (4th Ed.). Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  3. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (DSM-5). Arlington: American Psychiatric Pub.Google Scholar
  4. Akerly, M. S. (1984). Developmental changes in families with autistic children: A parent's perspective. In E. Scholer & G. B. Mostbov (Eds.), The effects of autism in the family (pp. 85–98). New York: Plenum Press.Google Scholar
  5. Anderson, E. R., & Rice, A. M. (1992). Sibling relationships during remarriage. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 57(2–3), 149–177.Google Scholar
  6. Anderson, A., Moore, D. W., Godfrey, R., & Fletcher-Flinn, C. M. (2004). Social skills assessment of children with autism in free-play situations. Autism, 8(4), 369–385.Google Scholar
  7. Banda, D. R. (2015). Review of sibling interventions with children with autism. Education and Training in Autism and Developmental Disabilities, 50(3), 303.Google Scholar
  8. Bass, J. D., & Mulick, J. A. (2007). Social play skill enhancement of children with autism using peers and siblings as therapists. Psychology in the Schools, 44(7), 727–735.Google Scholar
  9. Bay-Hinitz, A. K., Peterson, R. F., & Quilitch, H. R. (1994). Cooperative games: A way to modify aggressive and cooperative behaviors in young children. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 27(3), 435–446.Google Scholar
  10. Bayley, N. (1993). Bayley scales of infant development: Manual. Psychological Corporation.Google Scholar
  11. Belchic, J. K., & Harris, S. L. (1994). The use of multiple peer exemplars to enhance the generalization of play skills to the siblings of children with autism. Child and Family Behavior Therapy, 16(2), 1–25.Google Scholar
  12. Ben-Itzchak, E., Zukerman, G., & Zachor, D. A. (2016). Having older siblings is associated with less severe social communication symptoms in young children with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 44(8), 1613–1620.Google Scholar
  13. Bowlby, J. (1973). Attachment and loss: Vol. 2. Separation: Anxiety and anger. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  14. Bretherton, I. (1985). Attachment theory: Retrospect and prospect. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 50(1–2), 3–35.Google Scholar
  15. Brewton, C. M., Nowell, K. P., Lasala, M. W., & Goin-Kochel, R. P. (2012). Relationship between the social functioning of children with autism spectrum disorders and their siblings’ competencies/problem behaviors. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorder, 6(2), 646–653.Google Scholar
  16. Buist, K. L., Deković, M., & Prinzie, P. (2013). Sibling relationship quality and psychopathology of children and adolescents: A meta-analysis. Clinical Psychology Review, 33(1), 97–106.Google Scholar
  17. Castorina, L. L., & Negri, L. M. (2011). The inclusion of siblings in social skills training groups for boys with Asperger syndrome. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 41, 73–81.Google Scholar
  18. Cicirelli, V. G. (1982). Sibling influence throughout the lifespan. In M. E. Lamb & B. Sutton-Smith (Eds.), Sibling relationships: Their nature and significance across the lifespan (pp. 267–284). Hillsdale: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  19. Dai, X., & Heckman, J. J. (2013). Older siblings' contributions to young child's cognitive skills. Economic Modelling, 35, 235–248.Google Scholar
  20. Davis, N. O., & Carter, A. S. (2008). Parenting stress in mothers and fathers of toddlers with autism spectrum disorders: Associations with child characteristics. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 38, 1278–1291.Google Scholar
  21. El-Ghoroury, N. H., & Romanczyk, R. G. (1999). Play interactions of family members towards children with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 29(3), 249–258.Google Scholar
  22. Ferraioli, S. J., Hansford, A., & Harris, S. L. (2012). Benefits of including siblings in the treatment of autism spectrum disorders. Cognitive and Behavioral Practice, 19, 413–422.Google Scholar
  23. Gotham, K., Pickles, A., & Lord, C. (2009). Standardizing ADOS scores for a measure of severity in autism spectrum disorders. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 39, 693–705.Google Scholar
  24. Hus, V., Gotham, K., & Lord, C. (2014). Standardizing ADOS domain scores: Separating severity of social affect and restricted and repetitive behaviors. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 44, 2400–2412.Google Scholar
  25. Jones, E. A., & Carr, E. G. (2004). Joint attention in children with autism: Theory and intervention. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 19, 13–26.Google Scholar
  26. Knott, F., Lewis, C., & Williams, T. (1995). Sibling interaction of children with learning disabilities: A comparison of autism and Down's syndrome. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 36(6), 965–976.Google Scholar
  27. Knott, F., Lewis, C., & Williams, T. (2007). Sibling interaction of children with autism: Development over 12 months. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 37(10), 1987–1995.Google Scholar
  28. Le Couteur, A., Lord, C., & Rutter, M. (2003). The autism diagnostic interview-revised (ADI-R). Los Angeles: Western Psychological Services.Google Scholar
  29. Lobato, D. J., Miller, C. T., Barbour, L., Hall, L. J., & Pezzullo, J. (1991). Preschool siblings of handicapped children: Interactions with mothers, brothers, and sisters. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 12(4), 387–399.Google Scholar
  30. Lops, E. B. (2015). The role of the sibling experience in the social development of children with high functioning autism spectrum disorder (HFASD) (Doctoral dissertation). Available from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses database. (UMI No. 3663155).Google Scholar
  31. Lord, C., Rutter, M., DiLavore, P. C., & Risi, S. (1999). Autism diagnostic observation schedule-WPS edition. Los Angeles: Western Psychological Services.Google Scholar
  32. Lord, C., Rutter, M., DiLavore, P. C., Risi, S., Gotham, K., & Bishop, S. (2012). Autism diagnostic observation schedule, second edition. Torrance: Western Psychological Services.Google Scholar
  33. Matthews, N. L., & Goldberg, W. A. (2016). Theory of mind in children with and without autism spectrum disorder: Associations with the sibling constellation. Autism, 1–11.Google Scholar
  34. Matthews, N. L., Goldberg, W. A., & Lukowski, A. F. (2013). Theory of mind in children with autism spectrum disorder: Do siblings matter? Autism Research, 6(5), 443–453.Google Scholar
  35. McAlister, A. R., & Peterson, C. C. (2013). Siblings, theory of mind, and executive functioning in children aged 3–6 years: New longitudinal evidence. Child Development, 84(4), 1442–1458.Google Scholar
  36. McGee, G., Feldman, R., & Morrier, M. (1997). Benchmarks of social treatment for children with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 27, 353–364.Google Scholar
  37. McGee, G. G., Morrier, M. J., & Daly, T. (1999). An incidental teaching approach to early intervention for toddlers with autism. Journal of the Association for Persons with Severe Handicaps, 24(3), 133–146.Google Scholar
  38. McHale, S.M., Updegraff, K.A., Whiteman, S.D. (2012). Sibling Relationships and Influences in Childhood and Adolescence. Journal of Marriage and Family, 74(5), 913–930.Google Scholar
  39. Morrier, M. J., & Ziegler, S. M. T. (2018). I Wanna play too: Factors related to changes in social behavior for children with and without autism Spectrum disorder after implementation of a structured outdoor play curriculum. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 48(7), 2530–2541.Google Scholar
  40. Morrier, M. J., McGee, G. G., & Daly, T. (2009). Effects of toy selection and arrangement on the social behaviors of an inclusive group of preschool-aged children with and without autism. Early Childhood Services, 3(2), 157–177.Google Scholar
  41. Mullen, E. M. (1995). Mullen scales of early learning. San Antonio: Pearson.Google Scholar
  42. Natsuaki, M. N., Ge, X., Reiss, D., & Neiderhiser, J. M. (2009). Aggressive behavior between siblings and the development of externalizing problems: Evidence from a genetically sensitive study. Developmental Psychology, 45, 1009–1018.Google Scholar
  43. O’Brien, K., Slaughter, V., & Peterson, C. C. (2011). Sibling influences on theory of mind development for children with ASD. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 52(6), 713–719.Google Scholar
  44. Oppenheim-Leaf, M. L., Leaf, J. B., Dozier, C., Sheldon, J. B., & Sherman, J. A. (2012). Teaching typically developing children to promote social play with their siblings with autism. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorder, 6, 777–791.Google Scholar
  45. Orsmond, G. I., Kuo, H. Y., & Seltzer, M. M. (2009). Siblings of individuals with an autism spectrum disorder: Sibling relationships and wellbeing in adolescence and adulthood. Autism, 13(1), 59–80.Google Scholar
  46. Pepler, D. J., Abramovitch, R., & Corter, C. (1981). Sibling interaction in the home: A longitudinal study. Child Development, 52(4), 1344–1347.Google Scholar
  47. Pollard, C. A., Barry, C. M., Freedman, B. H., & Kotchick, B. A. (2013). Relationship quality as a moderator of anxiety in siblings of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders or down syndrome. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 22(5), 647–657.Google Scholar
  48. Prime, H., Pauker, S., Plamondon, A., Perlman, M., & Jenkins, J. (2014). Sibship size, sibling cognitive sensitivity, and children’s receptive vocabulary. Pediatrics, 133(2), 394–401.Google Scholar
  49. Rivers, J. W., & Stoneman, Z. (2003). Sibling relationships when a child has autism: Marital stress and support coping. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 33(4), 383–394.Google Scholar
  50. Schreibman, L., Dawson, G., Stahmer, A. C., Landa, R., Rogers, S. J., McGee, G. G., Kasari, C., Ingersoll, B., Kaiser, A. P., Bruinsma, Y., McNerney, E., Wetherby, A., & Halladay, A. (2015). Naturalistic developmental behavioral intervention: Empirically validated treatments for autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 45(8), 2411–2428.Google Scholar
  51. Sparrow, S., Balla, D., & Cicchetti, D. (1984). Vineland adaptive behavior scales. Circle Pines: American Guidance Services.Google Scholar
  52. Sparrow, S. S., Cicchetti, D. V., & Balla, D. A. (2005). Vineland adaptive behavior scales (2nd ed.). Circle Pines: American Guidance Service.Google Scholar
  53. Thorndike, R. L., Hagen, E. P., & Sattler, J. M. (1986). Stanford-Binet intelligence scale. Riverside Publishing Company.Google Scholar
  54. Tomeny, T. S., Barry, T. D., & Bader, S. H. (2012). Are typically-developing siblings of children with an autism spectrum disorder at risk for behavioral, emotional, and social maladjustment? Research in Autism Spectrum Disorder, 6(1), 508–518.Google Scholar
  55. Tsao, L. (2004). The effectiveness of sibling-mediates social intervention for children with autism (Doctoral Dissertation). Available from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses database. (UMI No. 3167283).Google Scholar
  56. Tsao, L. L., & Odom, S. L. (2006). Sibling-mediated social interaction intervention for young children with autism. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 26(2), 106–123.Google Scholar
  57. Walton, K. M., & Ingersoll, B. R. (2012). Evaluation of a sibling-mediated imitation intervention for young children with autism. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 14(4), 241–253.Google Scholar
  58. Wechsler, D. (1989). Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence-Revised. New York: The Psychological Corporation.Google Scholar
  59. Wechsler, D. (2002). WPPSI-III technical and interpretive manual. San Antonio, Texas: The Psychological Corporation.Google Scholar
  60. Wechsler, D. (2003). Wechsler intelligence scale for children-WISC-IV. Psychological Corporation.Google Scholar
  61. Wright, B. C., & Mahfoud, J. (2012). A child-centred exploration of the relevance of family and friends to theory of mind development. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 53(1), 32–40.Google Scholar
  62. Zachor, A. D., & Ben-Itzchak, E. (2016). Specific medical conditions are associated with unique behavioral profiles in autism spectrum disorders. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 10, 410.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Esther Ben-Itzchak
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Noa Nachshon
    • 1
  • Ditza A. Zachor
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Bruckner Center for Research in Ausim, Department of Communication DisordersAriel UniversityArielIsrael
  2. 2.The Autism Center, Department of PediatricsAssaf Harofeh Medical CenterZerifinIsrael
  3. 3.Sackler Faculty of MedicineTel Aviv UniversityTel AvivIsrael

Personalised recommendations