University Of Queensland It now seems that the influence of siblings has a great significance on the development of social skills among children with autism. A groundbreaking study suggests that the influence of sibling determines the social behavior of autistic kids. Developing children may particularly have a significant advance in ‘theory of the mind’ (ToM) understanding between the ages of three to five years.

The discovered mental states in ‘theory of the mind’ (ToM) allegedly includes intentions, beliefs, desires and emotions, in oneself and other people, and understanding that everyone has their own plans, thoughts, and points of view. Scientists believe that the child-aged siblings are positively related to their ToM. This conclusion was drawn after examining 60 children in range of 3 to 13 years. All the participants were been clinically diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

“Children acquire the ability to identify mental states, also known as ‘theory of the mind’ (ToM), at around four years of age. Research has shown that children with autism typically struggle on ToM tests and their everyday ToM skills are impaired, making it rare for even the highest-functioning autistic child to pass these tests before the age of 13 years,” shared Karen O’Brien PhD candidate in the School of Psychology.

Several ToM tests were conducted for understanding volunteers’ ability to sense the state of mind of another person and understand their point of view. It was pointed out that kids suffering from ASD who had younger siblings performed well on ToM tests. Having older siblings presumably had a detrimental effect on ToM development for the children with ASD.

Older siblings may over-compensate for their younger ASD siblings in social interactions, thereby limiting opportunities for social growth. Parental attitudes, family resources, cultural norms and access to educational interventions also appear relevant. Sibling interaction seems to be both more frequent and more significant for autistic kids when the sibling is younger than the child with ASD.

The study is published in the latest edition of the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.