Siblings can help improve the day-to-day lives of children on the spectrum, says a new study. It says that regular interaction with a sibling makes them better at the everyday tasks they struggled with before.
Findings of the study were presented during the annual meeting of the International Society for Autism Research held virtually this year. Children on the spectrum often find it difficult to communicate and socialise like other children their age. These struggles can be overcome by engaging with peers regularly according to the researchers.
For people with autism, their siblings are the means of having these social interactions with people in their age group, said lead researcher Nicole Rosen while addressing the press at the meeting. She is a graduate student in Catherine Lord’s lab at the University of California, Los Angeles.
“Since it lasts a lifetime, the bond between siblings can be transformative for every person. This is especially true for individuals with autism as they often act as a key medium to learn adaptive functioning, helping them become more self-reliant,” she said at the conference.
The research team studied 208 people with developmental conditions including autism to assess their daily-living skills, communication, and social skills. The participants were assessed on these parameters six times between the ages of 9 and 26.
It was found that those with siblings showed improved scores more often than those without a sibling. Their scores were even better in cases where the age difference between the siblings was small. Participants who had a sibling of a similar age and the same gender showed the most remarkable progress.
Rosen believes that if siblings are found to affect the adaptive functioning of a child with autism in more detailed studies, interventions can be planned to involve the siblings in order to improve the quality of life of people with developmental disorders.