Objectives The study was designed to compare sibling and best friend relationships engaged by adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Methods Twenty adolescents with ASD, aged 15–18 years ((M = 16.80, SD = 0.95), and their typically developing (TD) siblings (n = 20), aged 18 to 24 years (M = 20.05, SD = 1.67), were recruited for the current study. Behaviors underpinning attachment, caregiving and affiliative systems were evaluated as well as negative interaction behaviors in sibling relationships and friendships. Non-parametric statistical analyses (the Wilcoxon signed-ranks test and the Mann–Whitney U-test) were carried out to verify the differences in sibling and best friend relationships. Results Adolescents with ASD referred a higher presence of negative interaction behaviors in sibling relationships compared to friendships. However, when mixed and non-mixed friendships were distinguished, the descriptions of typically developing (TD) siblings and (TD) best friends overlapped for caregiving behaviors, revealing as both of them were depicted as a source of support and comfort by adolescents with ASD. A lower presence of behaviors underpinning attachment, caregiving and affiliations characterized relationships with best friends with disability compared to TD best friends. Conclusion This study highlighted that TD siblings provided a strong support for their siblings with ASD. The same role was also played by TD best friends.
Laghi, F., Lonigro, A., Pallini, S., Marziano, G., Baiocco, R. (2020). Sibling Relationship and Friendship in Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder. JOURNAL OF CHILD AND FAMILY STUDIES, 29, 583-591 [10.1007/s10826-019-01570-x].