From Education Week by Sarah D. Sparks:
While schools are required to provide academic support for students with disabilities, a new study suggests the nondisabled siblings of disabled students may also be academically at risk.

Those brothers and sisters are 60 percent more likely to drop out of school than students without disabled siblings, according to a University of California, Riverside, study, presented at the annual American Sociological Association conference here. Moreover, sisters of disabled students are particularly disadvantaged. They complete one-plus years less schooling than girls with nondisabled siblings.

"This is a pretty large percentage of our children, and they have pretty large impacts on their families," said Anna Penner, the study's author and a sociology researcher at the University of California, Irvine. "Disabled children tend to require more resources," she said. "So the family's resources could be centered on that child and the sibling could have less."

About 6.4 million students ages 3 to 21 have a disability, accounting for 13 percent of P-12 public schoolchildren, according to the most recent 2010-11 data from the National Center for Education Statistics. Based on those data, Ms. Penner estimated a third or more students may have at least one sibling with a disability.

"We know autism is something that happens to the whole family," said Lisa Goring, the vice president for family services for Autism Speaks, a New York City-based advocacy group. "The stressors are unique to each family, but in general, parents have to spend a lot of time managing the education of the student with autism and the services involved, and that can make it challenging to provide support and spend time with the siblings."

Prior studies have shown that having a child with disabilities can cause general family stress: Parents have a higher risk of divorce and mothers a higher risk of depression. Yet other studies have shown siblings of students with disabilities can have better social skills and compassion than those without such siblings.

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