Sibling Relationships in Families of Autistic and Typical Children: Similarities and Differences in the Perspectives of Siblings and Mothers

Yonat Rum*, Ditza A. Zachor, Yael Armony, Ella Daniel, Esther Dromi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This study investigates mothers' and siblings' perspectives regarding similarities and differences in siblingships with and without autism. Twenty-nine typical children (M age = 8.78 years, SD = 2.05) whose younger siblings have a diagnosis of autism and their mothers constituted the ‘autism group.’ Forty-six typical children (M age = 9.12 years, SD = 2.06) with younger typical siblings and their mothers constituted the ‘typical group’. Children and mothers completed the Sibling Relationship Questionnaires and were interviewed. Children's reports illustrated similarities in sibling relationships across groups, with no between-group differences in overall warmth, conflict, rivalry, or relative power in the sibling relationship. Mothers of autistic children reported their children to have less warmth and closeness (F (1,72) = 5.63, p =.02, η2 =.073) and less conflict (F (1,72) = 6.66, p =.012, η 2 =.085) with their siblings than mothers of typical children. More disagreement was found between mothers and children in the autism group than in the typical group. Mothers and children reported less intimacy and less quarreling between the siblings in the autism group than in the typical group. The qualitative analysis suggests that siblings focused on the present experience, while mothers also referred to processes in the sibling relationship. Interviewees in the autism group referred to various specificities in the siblingships without explicitly using the term “autism”. The findings highlight a typical-like experience for siblings of autistic children. At the same time, mothers' perspectives emphasize differences and challenges in siblingships, reporting a pattern of decreased involvement. It is important to consider both perspectives in research and clinical work with families of autistic children.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

Funding

FundersFunder number
Azrieli Foundation

    Keywords

    • Autism
    • Multiple reporters
    • Sibling relationship
    • Siblings

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