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J Autism Dev Disord. 2009 Jul;39(7):1053-65. doi: 10.1007/s10803-009-0722-7. Epub 2009 Mar 17.

Adolescent siblings of individuals with an autism spectrum disorder: testing a diathesis-stress model of sibling well-being.

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  • 1Department of Occupational Therapy, Boston University, 635 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA 02215, USA.


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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