Autism’s Collateral Damage

Over the last five years, Barbara Cain "conducted in-depth interviews with a non-clinical population of 35 siblings of children with autism." She found that these individuals showed a "fierce devotion" to their sibling on the spectrum. Her other observation:

Despite their devotion, most siblings also resented the affected child. Though they fully appreciated the burdens their parents shouldered, they lamented a family that totally revolved around one child. Major school events were often attended by only one parent, the other staying at home with their spectrum child. “Hey, what about me? I have special needs too,” one remembered protesting. Not surprisingly, many envied their friends’ “normal” sibling relationships. They longed for mutual support, shared secrets, and the imaginative play enjoyed by typical sibling pairs. They fervently envied the freedom to quarrel without fear of disaster.