Advertisement

Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 33, Issue 4, pp 383–394 | Cite as

Sibling Relationships When a Child Has Autism: Marital Stress and Support Coping

  • Jessica Wood Rivers
  • Zolinda StonemanEmail author
Article

Abstract

Family systems theory was employed to study sibling relationships in 50 families with a child with autism. Typically developing siblings expressed satisfaction with their sibling relationships. Parents were somewhat less positive about the sibling relationship than were the siblings themselves. As hypothesized, stress in the marital relationship was associated with compromised sibling relationships. Informal social support buffered the deleterious effects of marital stress on positive, but not negative, aspects of the sibling relationship. Contrary to predictions, families experiencing high marital stress who sought greater support from formal resources external to the family had typically developing siblings who reported a higher level of negative sibling behaviors than families who sought low levels of formal support. Findings reinforce the importance of considering family context as a contributor to the quality of the sibling relationship.

Marital stress siblings support coping 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

REFERENCES

  1. Bägenholm, A., & Gillberg, C. (1991). Psychosocial effects on siblings of children with autism and mental retardation: A population-based study. Journal of Mental Deficiency Research, 35, 291–307.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Beckman, P. (1991). Comparison of mothers' and fathers' perceptions of the effect of young children with and without disabilities. American Journal on Mental Retardation, 95, 585–595.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Blair, P., & others (1996). Parental perceptions of the lifestyle changes associated with having an autistic child: Gender comparison. (ERIC Document Reproductive Service No. ED 390 236).Google Scholar
  4. Bouma, R., & Schweitzer, R. (1990). The impact of chronic childhood illness on family stress: A comparison between autism and cystic fibrosis. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 46, 722–730.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Brinker, R. P., Seifer, R., & Sameroff, A. J. (1994). Relations among maternal stress, cognitive development, and early intervention in middle-and low-SES infants with developmental disabilities. American Journal on Mental Retardation, 98, 463–480.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Bristol, M. M. (1987). Mothers of children with autism or communication disorders: Successful adaptation and the Double ABCX Model. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 17, 469–486.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Bristol, M. M., Gallagher, J. J., & Schopler, E. (1988). Mothers and fathers of young developmentally disabled and nondisabled boys: Adaptation and spousal support. Developmental Psychology, 24, 441–451.Google Scholar
  8. Bristol, M. M., & Schopler, E. (1984). A developmental perspective on stress and coping in families of autistic children. In J. Blacher (Ed.), Severely handicapped young children and their families (pp. 91–141). Orlando, FL: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  9. Broderick, C., & Smith, J. (1979). The general systems approach to the family. In W. R. Burr, R. Hill, F. I. Nye, & I. L. Reiss (Eds.). Contemporary theories about the family: Volume II (pp. 112–129). New York: The Free Press.Google Scholar
  10. Brody, G., Stoneman, Z., & Burke, M. (1987). Family systems and the individual correlates of sibling behavior. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 57, 561–569.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Brody, G. H., Stoneman, Z., & Gauger, K. (1996). Parent-child relationships, family problem-solving behavior, and sibling relationship quality: The moderating role of sibling temperaments. Child Development, 67, 1289–1300.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Brody, G. H., Stoneman, Z., & McCoy, J. K. (1994a). Contributions of family relationships and child temperaments to longitudinal variations in sibling relationship quality and sibling relationship styles. Journal of Family Psychology, 8, 274–286.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Brody, G. H., Stoneman, Z., & McCoy, J. K. (1994b). Forecasting sibling relationships in early adolescence from child temperaments and family processes in middle childhood. Child Development, 65, 771–784.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Bronfenbrenner, U. (1979). The ecology of human development. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Cohen, J., & Cohen, P. (1983). Applied multiple regression/correlation analysis for the behavioral sciences. Hillsdale, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  16. Cohen, S., Kamarck, T., & Mermelstein, R. (1983). A global measure of perceived stress. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 24, 385–397.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Crnic, K. A., Friedreich, W. N., & Greenberg, M. T. (1983). Adaptation of families with mentally retarded children: A model of stress, coping, and family ecology. American Journal of Mental Deficiency, 88, 125–138.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Donenberg, G., & Baker, B. L. (1993). The impact of young children with externalizing behaviors on their families. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 21, 179–200.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Dumas, J. E., Wolf, L. C., Fisman, S. N., & Culligan, A. (1991). Parenting stress, child behavior problems, and dysphoria in parents of children with autism, Down syndrome, behavior disorders, and normal development. Exceptionality, 2, 97–110.Google Scholar
  20. Dunn, J., Slomkowski, C., & Beardsall, L. (1994). Sibling relationships from the preschool period through middle childhood and early adolescence. Developmental Psychology, 30, 315–324.Google Scholar
  21. Dunst, C. J., Trivette, C. M., & Cornwell, J. (1989). Family needs, social support, and self-efficacy during a child's transition to school. Early Education and Development, 1, 7–18.Google Scholar
  22. Dunst, C., Trivette, C., & Cross, A. (1986). Mediating influences of social support: Personal, family and child outcomes. American Journal of Mental Deficiency, 90(4), 403–417.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Dyson, L. L., Edgar, E., & Crnic, K. (1989). Psychological predictors of adjustment of siblings of developmentally disabled children. American Journal on Mental Retardation, 94, 292–302.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. El-Ghoroury, N. H., & Romanczyk, R. G. (1999). Play interactions of family members towards children with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 28, 249–258.Google Scholar
  25. Factor, D. C., Perry, A., & Freeman, N. (1990). Brief report: Stress, social support, and respite care use in families with autistic children. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 20, 139–146.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Fisman, S., Wolf, L., Ellison, D., Gillis, B., & Freeman, T. (2000). A longitudinal study of siblings of children with chronic disabilities. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 45, 369–375.Google Scholar
  27. Fisman, S., Wolf, L., Ellison, D., Gillis, B., Freeman, T., & Szatmari, P. (1996). Risk and protective factors affecting the adjustment of siblings of children with chronic disabilities. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 35, 1532–1541.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Furman, W., & Buhrmester, D. (1985). Children's perceptions of the qualities of sibling relationships. Child Development, 56, 448–461.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. Gamble, W. C., & McHale, S. M. (1989). Coping with stress in sibling relationships: A comparison of children with disabled and nondisabled siblings. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 10, 353–373.Google Scholar
  30. Gold, N. (1993). Depression and social adjustment in siblings of boys with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 23, 147–163.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Gowen, J. W., Johnson-Martin, N., Goldman, B. D., & Applebaum, M. (1989). Feelings of depression and parenting competence of mothers of handicapped and nonhandicapped infants: A longitudinal study. American Journal on Mental Retardation, 94, 259–271.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Hampson, R. B., Huglus, Y. F., Beavers, W. R., & Beavers, J. S. (1988). The assessment of competence in families with a retarded child. Journal of Family Psychology, 2, 32–53.Google Scholar
  33. Harris, S. L. (1994). Siblings of children with autism: A guide for families. Bethesda, MD: Woodbine House.Google Scholar
  34. Heller, T., Markwardt, R., Rowitz, L., & Farber, B. (1994). Adaptation of Hispanic families to a member with mental retardation. American Journal on Mental Retardation, 99, 289–300.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. Henderson, D., & Vanderberg, B. (1992). Factors influencing adjustment in the families of autistic children. Psychological Reports, 71, 167–171.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  36. Holyroyd, J., & McArthur, D. (1976). Mental retardation and stress on the parents:Acontrast between Down's syndrome and childhood autism. American Journal of Mental Deficiency, 80, 431–436.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. Howlin, P. (1988). Living with impairment: The effects on children of living with an autistic sibling. Child: Care, Health, and Development, 14, 395–408.Google Scholar
  38. Jenkins, J. (1992). Sibling relationships in disharmonious homes: Potential difficulties and protective effects. In F. Boer & J. Dunn (Eds.), Children's sibling relationships: Developmental and clinical issues (pp. 125–138). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  39. Kaminsky, L., & Dewey, D. (2001). Siblings relationships of children with autism. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 31, 399–410.Google Scholar
  40. Kasari, C., & Sigman, M. (1997). Linking parental perceptions to interactions in young children with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 27, 39–57.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  41. Kazak, A. E. (1988). Stress and social networks in families with older institutionalized retarded children. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 6, 448–461.Google Scholar
  42. Knott, F., Lewis, C., & Williams, T. (1995). Sibling interaction of children with learning disabilities: A comparison of autism and Down's syndrome. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 6, 965–976.Google Scholar
  43. Lanthier, R. P., & Furman, W. (May, 1992). Stress and sibling relationship quality in middle childhood. Presented at the Midwestern Psychological Association, Chicago, Illinois.Google Scholar
  44. Lazarus, R. S., & Folkman, S. (1984). Stress, appraisal, and coping. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  45. McCubbin, H. I., Olson, D., & Larsen, A. (1987). F-COPES, Family crisis oriented coping evaluation scales. In H. I. McCubbin & A. I. Thompson (Eds.), Family assessment inventories for research and practice (pp. 203–216). Madison, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin.Google Scholar
  46. McCubbin, H. I., Thompson, A. I., & McCubbin, M. A. (1996). Family assessment: Resiliency, coping, and adaptation. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin.Google Scholar
  47. McHale, S. M., & Gamble, W. C. (1987). Sibling relationships and adjustment of children with disabled brothers and sisters. Journal of Children in Contemporary Society, 19, 131–158.Google Scholar
  48. McHale, S. M., & Gamble, W. C. (1989). Sibling relationships of children with disabled and nondisabled brothers and sisters. Developmental Psychology, 25, 421–429.Google Scholar
  49. McHale, S. M., Simeonsson, R. J., & Sloan, J. (1984). Children with handicapped brothers and sisters. In E. Schopler & G. Mesibov (Eds.), Issues in autism, Vol. 2: The effects of autism in the family (pp. 327–342). New York: Plenum.Google Scholar
  50. McHale, S. M., Sloan, J., & Simeonsson, R. J. (1986). Sibling relationships of children with autistic, mentally retarded, and nonhandicapped brothers and sisters. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 16, 399–413.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  51. Mates, T. E. (1990). Siblings of autistic children: Their adjustment and performance at home and in school. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 20, 545–553.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  52. Morgan, S. B. (1988). The autistic child and family functioning: A developmental-family system perspective. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 18, 263–280.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  53. Nixon, C. L., & Cummings, E. M. (1999). Sibling disability and children's reactivity to conflicts involving family members. Journal of Family Psychology, 13, 274–285.Google Scholar
  54. Olson, P. H. (1977). Insiders' and outsiders' views of relationships: Research studies. In G. Levinger & H. L. Rausch (Eds.): Close relationships: Perspectives on the meaning of intimacy (pp. 115–135). Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press.Google Scholar
  55. Rodrigue, J. R., Morgan, S. B., & Geffken, G. R. (1990). Families of autistic children: Psychological functioning of mothers. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 19, 371–379.Google Scholar
  56. Rodrigue, J. R., Geffken, G. R., & Morgan, S. B. (1993). Perceived competence and behavioral adjustment of siblings of children with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 23, 665–674.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  57. Roeyers, H., & Mycke, K. (1995). Siblings of children with autism, with mental retardation and with normal development. Child: Care, Health & Development, 21, 305–319.Google Scholar
  58. Sanders, J. L., & Morgan, S. (1997). Family stress and adjustment as perceived by parents of children with autism or Down Syndrome: Implications for intervention. Child & Family Behavior Therapy, 19, 15–32.Google Scholar
  59. Schaeffer, E., & Edgerton, M. (1981). The sibling inventory of behavior. Unpublished manuscript. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.Google Scholar
  60. Seltzer, M. M., & Krauss, M. W. (1989). Aging parents with adult mentally retarded children: Family risk factors and sources of support. American Journal on Mental Retardation, 94, 303–312.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  61. Shonkoff, J. P., Hauser-Cram, P., Krauss, M. W., & Upshur, C. (1992). Development of infants with disabilities and their families: Implications for theory and service delivery. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 57 (6) (Serial No. 230).Google Scholar
  62. Stoneman, Z. (1993). Common themes and divergent paths. In Z. Stoneman & P. W. Berman (Eds.), The effects of mental retardation, disability, and illness on sibling relationships. (pp. 355–365). Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes.Google Scholar
  63. Stoneman, Z. (1997). Mental retardation and family adaptation. In W. E. MacLean, Jr. (Ed.). Ellis' handbook of mental deficiency, psychological theory and research (pp. 405–437). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  64. Stoneman, Z. (1998). Research on siblings of children with mental retardation: Contributions of developmental theory and etiology. In J. A. Burack, R. M. Hodapp, & E. Zigler (Eds.), Handbook of mental retardation and development (pp. 669–692). Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, UK.Google Scholar
  65. Stoneman, Z. (2001). Supporting positive sibling relationships during childhood. Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Research Reviews, 7, 134–142.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  66. Stoneman, Z., Brody, G. H., Churchill, S. L., & Winn, L. (1999). Effects of residential instability on Head Start children and their siblings: Influences of child emotionality and conflict between family caregivers. Child Development, 20, 1246–1262.Google Scholar
  67. Strain, P. S., & Danko, C. D. (1995). Caregivers' encouragement of positive interaction between preschoolers with autism and their siblings. Journal of Emotional and Behavior Disorders, 3, 2–12.Google Scholar
  68. Trute, B., & Hauch, C. (1988). Social network attributes of families with positive adaptation to the birth of a developmentally disabled child. Canadian Journal of Community Mental Health, 7, 5–16.Google Scholar
  69. Waisbren, S. E. (1980). Parents' reactions after the birth of a developmentally disabled child. American Journal of Mental Deficiency, 84, 354–366.Google Scholar
  70. Young, D. M., & Roopnarine, J. L. (1994). Fathers' child care involvement with children with and without disabilities. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 14, 488–502.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Autism ConsultantPortsmouth
  2. 2.Institute on Human Development and DisabilityThe University of GeorgiaUSA

Personalised recommendations