Siblings of Disabled Kids Face Mental Health Risks

Children who grow up alongside an ill or disabled sibling may be at higher risk of emotional complications like relationship issues, behavioral problems, and academic difficulty, according to a new survey of parents conducted by researchers at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.  More from Reuters.com:

The study could not explain why the siblings of disabled kids were more likely to have problems functioning socially or emotionally than kids without a special needs brother or sister. But Anthony Goudie, the report’s lead author, said he’s convinced it has to do with the family situation.

“That’s driven by the disproportionate or increased financial strain and stress within these households, the psychological stress…and the emotional stress on caregivers and parents, and the amount of time they have to spend devoting to the child with a disability,” said Goudie, who is an assistant professor at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock.

Goudie said the findings are important because the functional problems for which the non-disabled siblings appear to be at increased risk have been tied to higher odds of mental illnesses, such as depression and anxiety disorders, that require treatment.

His study is perhaps the largest to date looking at the day-to-day difficulties for siblings of kids with a disability.

Image: Sad boy, via Shutterstock

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