Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Brothers and sisters of children with disabilities-Psychology, Children with autism spectrum disorders-Family relationships, Brothers and sisters, Attachment behavior in children, Families-Psychological aspects, Satisfaction, Sibling relationships, Sibling dyads, Autism spectrum disorder, ASD, Family cohesion, Attachment, Current life satisfaction, Family systems theory


When there is a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in a family, the whole system is profoundly impacted. Little is known about the impact having a sibling with ASD has on the typically developing siblings within a family, as the research that exists on the topic has typically been conducted using parent-impressions of the sibling dyads, making it difficult to infer how the typically developing children themselves make meaning of their internal experiences (Petlas, Hastings, Nash, Hall, Joannidi, and Dowey, 2012; Tomney, et al., 2012). In a sample of 67 adult siblings of individuals with ASD, perceived attention in childhood, attachment to caretaker, current quality of life, and the desire for their sibling with ASD to be typically developing are examined through the use of an online questionnaire. Subjects that reported an unequal amount of attention in childhood had less secure attachments to their caregivers and a poorer current quality of life in comparison to those subjects that reported an equal amount of attention from caregivers in childhood. Subjects that reported a poorer current quality of life were more likely to wish that their sibling with ASD had been typically developing during childhood. Results support the importance of the typically developing siblings to perceive similar amounts of attention as well as the importance for mental health practitioners to provide these siblings with support.




iv, 71 pages. Thesis (M.S.W.)-Smith College School for Social Work, 2014. Includes bibliographical references (pages 46-50)