Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

A possible early glimpse of autism's impact on older siblings

09.03.2010
Controlled study finds a possible early warning signs for autism spectrum disorders within families

A new study suggests a trend toward developing hyperactivity among typically developing elementary-school-aged siblings of autistic preschoolers and supports the notion that mothers of young, autistic children experience more depression and stress than mothers with typically developing children.

While the impact on older siblings was not statistically significant, the trend may indicate the presence of symptoms associated with broader observable autism characteristics seen in previous studies, says Laura Lee McIntyre, a professor and director of the University of Oregon's school psychology program. The study was published in the March issue of the journal Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities.

Previous research projects have netted mixed findings, but many suggest that families dealing with autism -- especially brothers and sisters of an autistic child -- also experience symptoms similar to autism: widespread abnormalities of social interactions, communication and behavior.

The new study gives a fresh look at autism's early effects on families by comparing control and experimental groups whose ages, education and socioeconomic situations were virtually identical. Twenty families had a preschooler (ages 2-5 years old) diagnosed with autism and a typically developing older elementary school sibling (6-10); the control group of 23 families did not have an autistic child. Older children with diagnosed learning or mental disabilities were excluded.

"We know there are risk factors, but we don't know if they result from having a child with autism, or if there are genetic predispositions as part of the broader autism picture," McIntyre said. "Are these difficulties the result of child-rearing challenges, or are they negatively impacted because of shared genetic risks? Our sample was very clean, and that's good for science but not necessarily as good for generalizing our findings, but I'm confident with the results we found in this particular sample."

McIntyre, while a professor at Syracuse University, and her doctoral student Nicole Quintero studied families chosen in New York. They looked closely at sibling adjustments, involving social, behavioral and academic performance as recorded by both parents and teachers, and at the well- being of the mothers, whose average age was 36 and 94-95 percent of whom were married. The median age of older siblings was seven and most were first- or second-graders.

"Contrary to what has been found by many researchers, we found that older siblings were pretty well adjusted, with no significant differences in parent-reported or teacher-reported social skills," said McIntyre, who joined the UO's department of special education and clinical sciences in 2009. "These are all typically developing kids."

Teachers, however, reported slightly more behavioral problems for the siblings of children with autism than control siblings. "There was a trend toward significance," she said.

The problems resembled hyperactivity but not at levels generally attributed to attention-deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD). Teacher reports noted that these children exhibited slightly more fidgeting, movement and attention problems.

"Children with siblings with autism may be experiencing some sub-clinical symptoms of hyperactivity or attention problems," noted McIntyre, an affiliate of the UO's Center for Excellence and Developmental Disabilities, Education, Research and Service. "Parents didn't report seeing such things at home. Teachers see these children in a more structured environment. Siblings of children with autism may be at heightened risk for developing problems, potentially over time."

Siblings of children with autism probably should be watched with appropriate academic supports in place, she said. "Our findings are rather positive overall, but these kids should be on our radar screens. These kids may start school OK, at least those from healthy families, but they may demonstrate difficulties over time. However, it has been shown that around 30 percent of siblings of autistic children have some associated difficulties in behavior, learning or development."

The finding that moms with children with autism were more stressed and depressed in comparison to moms of typically developing preschool children "was not surprising at all," McIntyre said. "That finding is robust in existing literature, so even though this sample involves highly organized, motivated and willing mothers, in comparison to other moms with two or more children, they are reporting more stress and more depression."

Mothers of autistic children, she added, need assistance for day-to-day child-rearing activities to give them some time to be individuals. As part of her research and clinical work at UO's nationally recognized Child and Family Center, she is looking at interventions that support parents and help kids with their daily living skills and behavior management.

The research was partially funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Quintero is now a postdoctoral researcher in the University of Illinois at Chicago in the Institute on Disability and Human Development.

About the University of Oregon

The University of Oregon is a world-class teaching and research institution and Oregon's flagship public university. The UO is a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU), an organization made up of the 62 leading public and private research institutions in the United States and Canada. The University of Oregon is one of only two AAU members in the Pacific Northwest.

Source: Laura Lee McIntyre, associate professor of school psychology, 541-346-7452, llmcinty@uoregon.edu

Links:

McIntyre faculty page: http://education.uoregon.edu/faculty.htm?id=345
UO school psychology program: http://education.uoregon.edu/field.htm?id=34&field_name=SPSY
UO Center for Excellence and Developmental Disabilities, Education, Research and Service: http://ucedd.uoregon.edu/

UO Child and Family Center: http://cfc.uoregon.edu/

Jim Barlow | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.uoregon.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Win-win strategies for climate and food security
02.10.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

nachricht The personality factor: How to foster the sharing of research data
06.09.2017 | ZBW – Leibniz-Informationszentrum Wirtschaft

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Ocean atmosphere rife with microbes

17.10.2017 | Life Sciences

Neutrons observe vitamin B6-dependent enzyme activity useful for drug development

17.10.2017 | Life Sciences

NASA finds newly formed tropical storm lan over open waters

17.10.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>