Psychological and school functioning of Latino siblings of children with intellectual disability


  • Conflict of interest statement: No conflicts declared.


Background:  Siblings of children with disabilities are at risk for internalizing psychological disorders; however, little is known about how culture influences this effect. This study examined the psychological and school functioning of Latino siblings of children with intellectual disability (ID).

Methods:  Participants were 100 Latino (L) and nonLatino (NL) siblings (8–15 years) of children with ID (50 LID, 50 NLID) and 100 Latino and nonLatino control siblings (50 LC, 50 NLC). Siblings, parents, and teachers completed standard questionnaires regarding sibling emotional and behavioral functioning; sibling school report cards were obtained. Analyses of variance were conducted, controlling for parent age and family income; planned contrasts compared LID siblings to the other sibling groups.

Results:  LID siblings reported significantly more internalizing (t(1) = 2.41, < .05) and emotional t(1) = 3.06, < .05) symptoms, poorer awareness of (t(1) = 2.26, < .01) and greater reluctance to express (t(1) = 3.12, < .01) their emotions, and more problems in personal adjustment and relationships with parents (t(1) = −2.50, < .05). Significantly higher percentages of LID siblings scored in the at-risk or clinical range for internalizing and emotional symptoms, and were more likely to score above the clinical cut-off for separation anxiety disorder and to endorse global impairment. LID siblings experienced more school absences and lower academic performance. There were no group differences in externalizing behavior problems, somatic symptoms, or teacher-reported internalizing symptoms.

Conclusions:  Latino siblings of children with ID are at greater risk for internalizing psychological disorders and greater impairment in personal and school functioning. Results are discussed in terms of their sociocultural significance and clinical implications.