Can Autism Spread to Siblings of Autistic Children?

 

Logically speaking, a neurotypical autistic isn’t humanly possible, but that doesn’t mean they’re immune to some of the symptoms. A University of Oregon study suggests that older siblings of autistic children who are in preschool may develop hyper active behaviors of their own. The study also supports the theory of mothers with autistic children experiencing more depression and stress than mothers of children who develop typically (anyone wants to go out on a limb? :-p)

The impact was considered statistically insignificant, according to the study, but suggest a possible presence of symptoms associated with broader characteristics in previous studies. The difference in behavior was noted more in the classroom than at home, as teachers said children with autistic siblings displayed hyper active tendencies, but nothing remotely close to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. The findings were enough for the director of Oregon’s school psychology program to present the potential for siblings of autistic children to develop problems over time.

Good thing I’m the oldest of 4…there’s no way I can screw up my siblings. Hear that? You’re free! :-p

Sarcastic in nature, that is my first response to the published findings. Is there a study involving younger siblings of autistic children?

The study does highlight a segment of people affected by autism but rarely featured. I wouldn’t expect this story to make rounds on mainstream news simply because it doesn’t conclude much, but I’ve never seen or read a story about how brothers/sisters of autistic people react and adapt to their “bohemian” relatives (and I can only recall one story that featured a father: a profile piece on ESPN in the wake of Jason McElwain’s rise to prominence). If you’re looking to do an autism story that will separate itself from the field, trying talking to the uncharted territories of the family tree. Chances are they’ll have something to say.

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Mike Peden
Mike Peden brings a rarely discussed perspective on autism news: he was diagnosed with the disability in 1991. His explorations on autism led to an Alliance for Community Media Hometown Video Award in 2008 in the Documentary - Public Awareness category, and he currently deciphers evolving trends in autism coverage.
Mike Peden

Mike Peden

Mike Peden brings a rarely discussed perspective on autism news: he was diagnosed with the disability in 1991. His explorations on autism led to an Alliance for Community Media Hometown Video Award in 2008 in the Documentary - Public Awareness category, and he currently deciphers evolving trends in autism coverage.

0 thoughts on “Can Autism Spread to Siblings of Autistic Children?

  • June 23, 2010 at 6:15 pm
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    If Autism is genetic… it wouldn’t be at all surprising if siblings shared traits. Growing up in the same household would produce similar mannerisms simply because of familiarity and close proximity, regardless of whether or not the sibling actually was autistic.

    My older half-sister (Jenna), brother (Brian), and I recently got together for Jenna’s wedding. Jenna’s mom left our dad when Jenna was a baby. We visited her at our grandparents house when we were very little kids, but other than a few days every other year or so, we never really saw each other. After one visit to our house in PA, when Jenna was 12, I was 8, Kelly (other sister not at the wedding) was 5, and Brian was 2… we didn’t see her again for 21 years.

    At the wedding, Jenna’s cousins who have known her all her life were AMAZED at the similarities in mannerisms between the three of us there. It was obvious that we were siblings, even though we’d grown up in different states with different parents. (Jenna’s mom remarried eventually.) So, even without shared upbringing, it is possible that genetics plays a role in how one behaves.

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  • June 19, 2010 at 3:13 pm
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    Interesting.

    This is sort of on/off topic, but my son didn’t start speaking as soon as I thought he should/would, probably because his sister is entirely nonverbal.  I think he probably would have started speaking earlier and his speech may have been a little more clear if he had a sister who talked.

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