Ossining High School senior Victoria Love has done something usually reserved for doctors and researcher scientists—she has published research in a peer-reviewed medical journal.
Victoria’s research, Sibling Relationships in Individuals with Angelman Syndrome: A Comparative Study, was published this month in the Journal of Neurorehabilitation. Victoria co-authored the report with Lotte Richters, Robert Didden, Hubert Korzilius and Wendy Machalicek.
Victoria, who has a sibling with Angelman Syndrome, said she wanted to explore how the disorder affects sibling relationships in the hope of helping other families touched by this condition. Angelman Syndrome is a rare genetic disorder characterized by severe intellectual impairment, little-to-no language and frequent laughter.
At the outset, Victoria said she expected that children whose siblings had AS would experience less warmth or closeness, more conflict and more rivalry and that the typically developing child would be dominant and more nurturing. Three of her four assumptions were confirmed.
The one expectation that wasn’t confirmed had to do with conflict. “We found there was less conflict in the relationship, less fighting and less arguing when one sibling has AS” than when both siblings are typically developing, she said.
According to Victoria, although children with AS exhibit challenging behaviors like temper tantrums and inappropriate laughter, their siblings appear to “somehow appreciate and understand” that the behavior is part of their disorder.
To conduct her research, Victoria found a mentor at Radboud University in the The Netherlands. Using the Internet, she was able to share research materials and collaborate with a graduate student, also in The Netherlands, doing a master’s thesis on the same topic. The study investigated the quality of sibling relationships among 44 children with siblings with AS compared to 55 children with typically developing siblings.
Victoria, who will be attending SUNY Oswego in September, said she hoped the findings of her study could be used to address the needs of both children with and without AS while improving the sibling relationship.