Why do siblings of children with autism also have social problems?

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Even typical siblings of children with autism tend to struggle with anxiety, depression and social difficulties, according to a large new analysis.

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.”

“We don’t really understand that much about what underpins [this phenomenon],” [researcher William] Mandy says. “Let’s hope [this paper] kicks off research that really tries to get at the mechanisms.” Understanding the biology might shed light on autism’s heritability and perhaps yield valuable clinical strategies to help the siblings, he says.

Related article:  Key to treating autism could be hiding in the gut

Siblings of autistic children are more likely than siblings of children without the condition to be withdrawn and to have poor social skills. They also fare worse socially and emotionally, by various measures, than do siblings of children with intellectual disability or other forms of developmental delay.

However, they are no more likely than controls to have outward behavior problems, such as aggression. And their strategies for coping with adversity are not unusual, either.

The findings overall suggest that siblings of autistic children would benefit from early behavioral treatments.

Read full, original post: Siblings of children with autism have social, emotional problems

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