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Kid Companions- Chewelry: Apr 9, 2010

April 9, 2010

Are Siblings Of Autistic Children At Risk Also

From reading numerous articles on at risk siblings of Autistic children, I have come to the conclusion that both the younger and older siblings in various studies have shown problems. The good news is, that for most, they only need to be on our radar screens,  they need to be monitored and the few that manifest problems must be offered appropriate support.

Research has shown that older brothers and sisters of an Autistic preschooler may develop hyperactivity themselves. Teachers noted that these children exhibited slightly more fidgeting, movement and attention problems, but not at levels generally attributed to attention-deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD). But for the most part, it was found most older brothers and sisters are all typically developing kids.

However, some older siblings may start school OK but they may demonstrate difficulties over time. Results provided by the University of Oregon (2010, March 8). Possible early glimpse of autism's impact on older siblings, show that around 30 percent of siblings of autistic children have some difficulties in behavior, learning or development."

Laura Lee McIntyre, a professor and director of the University of Oregon's school psychology program says: “We know there are risk factors, but we don't know if they result from having a child with autism, or if there are genetic predispositions as part of the broader autism picture," McIntyre said. "Are these difficulties the result of child-rearing challenges, or are they negatively impacted because of shared genetic risks?"

Another study found younger siblings of children with autism are at risk to suffer from delayed verbal, cognitive and motor development in their early childhood years. Specifically they had delayed linguistic abilities, difficulties in expressing feelings and in making eye contact, and in social interaction.

The research showed that these siblings manifested problems between 14 months until the age of four and half. After that, most of those in the group of siblings with autism were able to close the gap between them and the children in the comparison group,

Wendy L. Stone, Ph.D., and colleagues at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tenn., states: "Younger siblings of children with autism spectrum disorders demonstrated weaker performance in non-verbal problem-solving, directing attention, understanding words, understanding phrases, gesture use and social-communicative interactions with parents, and had increased autism symptoms, relative to control siblings," This study highlights the importance of closely monitoring these at-risk children for developmental problems.

Dr Stone's team concluded: "This research has the potential to increase our knowledge about the early development of autism and to develop tailored intervention and prevention strategies for promoting optimal outcomes in this group of at-risk children,"

Lastly, my feelings about this whole matter is exactly the same as Sandra L. Harris, Ph.D., a Professor at the Rutgers University and author of Siblings of Children with Autism who stated: “… impressed me most about families of children with autism is the resilience and strength they bring to that experience. I have known hundreds of families over the past 30+ years and one of the important lessons they have taught me is about learning to carry life's hard demands with grace and humor.”

How has the lives of siblings of an Autistic child you know been impacted by their situation?

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