EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. Latino siblings of children developmental disabilities such as Down syndrome and autism may face their own challenges, including anxiety and lower school performance, according to a new study led by researchers with the Bradley Hasbro Children's Research Center.
"When a child has a disability, all members of the family are affected, including siblings," said lead author Debra Lobato, Ph.D., of the Bradley Hasbro Children's Research Center. "However, little attention has been paid to the influence of cultural factors on the functioning of siblings. Our cultural backgrounds influence who we consider to be our siblings, as well as the expectations and relationships we have with our brothers and sisters."
"In order to understand the impact of a child's disability on siblings it is important to understand the social and cultural context in which they are raised," Lobato added.
According to the study in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, now available online, Latino children who have a brother or sister with developmental disabilities experienced significantly more symptoms of internalizing psychological disorders, such as anxiety, than comparison children. These siblings also had more problems with their adjustment and coping skills including difficulties with their relationships, particularly with their parents. Latino children showed a greater reluctance to express any negative experiences or feelings that they had about their siblings' disability. In school, they had more absences and lower academic performances compared to their peers.
Latinos represent the largest minority population in the United States, where they share higher rates of sociodemographic stress, such as poverty, which has been associated with higher rates of anxiety symptoms and disorders among samples of Latino children. Latinos also share significant family-centric cultural values that may heighten the significa
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