Siblings of children with autism have social, emotional problems
Even typical siblings of children with autism tend to struggle with anxiety, depression and social difficulties, according to a large new analysis1.
The findings provide the most robust evidence to date that these siblings have problems, too, says lead author Carolyn Shivers, assistant professor of human development at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. “We’ve found evidence now from nearly 70 studies that says there is actually something going on there.”
The findings jibe with the ‘broad autism phenotype’ theory, which posits that family members of autistic children share some traits of the condition.
However, it does not reveal how much of the siblings’ difficulties are dictated by genetics rather than family environment, says William Mandy, senior lecturer in clinical, education and health psychology at University College London, who was not involved in the study.