Sibling influences on theory of mind development for children with ASD

O'Brien, Karen, Slaughter, Virginia and Peterson, Candida C. (2011) Sibling influences on theory of mind development for children with ASD. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 52 6: 713-719. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7610.2011.02389.x

Author O'Brien, Karen
Slaughter, Virginia
Peterson, Candida C.
Title Sibling influences on theory of mind development for children with ASD
Journal name Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1469-7610
Publication date 2011-06
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1111/j.1469-7610.2011.02389.x
Volume 52
Issue 6
Start page 713
End page 719
Total pages 7
Place of publication Oxford, United Kingdom
Publisher Wiley Blackwell Publishing
Collection year 2012
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Background:  Research indicates that having child siblings is positively associated with theory of mind (ToM) in typically developing children. As ToM is important to everyday social behaviours it is important to extend this research to examine whether there are similar sibling effects for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

Theory of mind and executive functioning abilities of 60 children clinically diagnosed with ASD were assessed with batteries of standard tasks. Verbal mental age (VMA) and severity of autism symptoms were also measured together with number of child-aged siblings (1 to 12 years) and position in the sibling constellation.

  Having older siblings was a significant negative predictor of ToM performance for children with ASD, even after controlling for age, VMA, executive function and autism symptom severity. A weaker ToM benefit of younger siblings was not statistically significant independently of control variables.

In sharp contrast to findings for typically developing preschoolers, having an older sibling was a disadvantage for ToM development in children with ASD. Conceivably, older siblings may over-compensate for their younger ASD siblings in social interactions, thereby limiting opportunities for social-cognitive growth. Parental attitudes, family resources, cultural norms and access to educational interventions may also conceivably be relevant and clearly warrant further research.
Keyword Autism spectrum disorders
Theory of Mind
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2012 Collection
School of Psychology Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 11 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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Created: Tue, 12 Jul 2011, 08:30:31 EST by Ms Karen O'brien on behalf of School of Psychology