Growing up with autism: Experiences of adult siblings
Janecek, Samantha Leigh
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This study examined the experiences of individuals who have a sibling diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD-sibs; N = 140) by comparing the self-report of ASD-sibs with reports from siblings who have a typically developing brother or sister (TD-sib; N = 342). In terms of relationship differences, ASD-sibs reported significantly more negative childhood experiences with their sibling, received less parental attention, and had significantly more caregiving responsibilities than TD-sibs. ASD-sibs and TD-sibs did not differ in terms of overall relationship quality. In terms of adjustment, ASD-sibs reported significantly higher rates of internalizing and externalizing difficulties, as well as psychiatric diagnoses than TD-sibs. The severity level of autism was significantly related to the overall relationship quality and aspects of adjustment for ASD-sibs, particularly in childhood. The findings suggest that ASD-sibs may be vulnerable to negative effects relating to have a sibling with ASD in childhood. However, these effects, as well as differences between ASD-sibs and TD-sibs become less apparent in adulthood. Implications for professionals working with families of children with ASD are discussed.