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07-11-2017 | Original Paper | Uitgave 3/2018

Journal of Child and Family Studies 3/2018

Sibling Relationships and Family Functioning in Siblings of Early Adolescents, Adolescents and Young Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 3/2018
Fiorenzo Laghi, Antonia Lonigro, Susanna Pallini, Ambra Bechini, Alexandra Gradilone, Graziana Marziano, Roberto Baiocco


The purpose of the study was to investigate how family functioning (defined as the ability that family members hold to manage stressful events, and intimate and social relationships), the degree to which family members feel happy and fulfilled with each other (called family satisfaction), and the demographical characteristics of siblings (age and gender) impacted on sibling relationships. The Circumplex Model of Marital and Family Systems and Behavioral Systems constituted the theoretical frameworks that guided our study. Eighty-six typically developing adolescents and young adults having a sister or a brother with autism spectrum disorder were enrolled. Results indicated that the youngest age group (early adolescents) reported to engage more frequently in negative behaviors with their siblings with ASD than the two older age groups (middle adolescents and young adults). No significant differences were found among the three age groups regarding behaviors derived from attachment, caregiving and affiliative systems. Family satisfaction and age significantly predicted behaviors during sibling interactions. Suggestions on prevention and intervention programs were discussed in order to prevent parentification among typically developing siblings and decrease episodes of quarrels and overt conflicts between brothers and sisters with and without ASD.

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