Researchers are looking into the role that siblings play in the development of social skills in children with autism. Between the ages of three and five, children show an advance in ‘theory of the mind’ (ToM) understanding, which sees them acquire the ability to identify mental states. Previous research shows that having child-aged siblings is positively associated with children developing an awareness of their mental states.
The study authors are exploring whether the same positive relationship exists for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). In order to do this, they studied 60 children between the ages of three and 13, who had been diagnosed ASD.
While the data shows that children with autism who had younger siblings performed well on ToM tests, it also suggests older siblings have a detrimental effect on ToM development for children with ASD.Read more at The University of Queensland