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Adolescent Siblings of Individuals with an Autism Spectrum Disorder: Testing a Diathesis-Stress Model of Sibling Well-Being

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Abstract

The purpose of this study was to test a diathesis-stress model of well-being for siblings who have a brother or sister with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Data were collected from 57 adolescents and their mothers. Sisters reported higher levels of depressive and anxiety symptoms than brothers. Having a family history of ASDs was associated with depressive, but not anxiety, symptoms. A high level of maternal depression was also associated with more depressive and anxiety symptoms. A diathesis-stress model was partially supported, primarily through the findings that sibling sub-threshold autism characteristics were associated with depressive and anxiety symptoms in siblings, but only in the presence of a high number of stressful life events.

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Acknowledgments

This research was funded by the National Institute on Child Health and Human Development (R03 HD039185) to the first author and the National Institute on Aging (R01 AG08768) to the second author. Support was also provided by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (P30 HD03352 to the Waisman Center) and the College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences (Sargent College) at Boston University. We also thank Ayelet Ben-Sasson and Rachel Ban Tefft for their assistance with data collection. We are grateful for the participation of the siblings and their families in our research.

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Orsmond, G.I., Seltzer, M.M. Adolescent Siblings of Individuals with an Autism Spectrum Disorder: Testing a Diathesis-Stress Model of Sibling Well-Being. J Autism Dev Disord 39, 1053–1065 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-009-0722-7

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