Siblings Essay

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“Autism is a pervasive, multi-factorial, highly heritable, clinically heterogeneous neurodevelopmental disorder with prominent impairments in social reciprocity, language impairment and restricted repetitive behaviors or interests” (Gau, et al., 2010). Sibling relationships are important. Sibling relationships last longer than any other relationships within the family, and it is here that brothers and sisters develop self-identity, companionship, social skills and mutual support (Stoneman J. W., 2003). There has been increasing research into the impact of a child with a disability on their fellow sibling/s either directly or indirectly and some studies suggest that having a child with a disability will have a negative affect on the non autistic child’s adjustments which includes loneliness and hassles with their siblings behaviors (Bagenholm & Gillberg, 1991), externalizing and internalizing behavior problems (Fisman et al, 1996, 2000: Rodigue, Geffken & Morgan, 1993), depression, (Gold 1993) and siblings interactions which are less socially reciprocal (Knott et al 1995). The observations gleaned from normal siblings relationships which are characterized by shifts in emotions and feelings of resentment, jealousy, embarrassment, pride, affection and comradeship, assist to compare the relationships between autistic individuals and their siblings.
An increase in disturbance in both typically developing and disabled children is noted when there are poor family relationships, marital discord, or insufficient parental support. On the other hand, warm, harmonious family relationships have a protective effect, even when the impairment of autism is severe (McHale et al 1984). (McHale et al 1986) reported that siblings viewed their relat...

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...marital stress, would report less positively to sibling relationships than children who are in families with less marital stress. Families use a variety of coping mechanisms in response to stress. One problem solving, coping mechanism is social support (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984). Access to social support has been related to a positive child and family outcomes in families of children who suffer from disabilities including autism (Beckman 1991). Contrary to predictions, families who experienced high levels of marital stress sought greater support from formal resources external to the family had more typically developing siblings who reported a higher number of negative sibling behaviours than families who sought sort a lower level of formal support. This reinforced the importance of considering family context as a contributor to the quality of sibling’s relationships.

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