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Having a brother or sister with autism: Children's experiences of the sibling relationship.

By Lucy Aimee Elizabeth Gillatt


The literature review synthesises the literature examining the impact of having a sibling with autism on siblings unaffected by autism. Four electronic databases and two journals were scrutinised in a systematic literature search for studies focusing on the effects of having a sibling with autism. Studies published between 1979 and 2007 were elicited for inclusion. The literature suggests that having a sibling with autism is not necessarily a harmful experience. The review indicates that the impact a child with autism has on their typically developing sibling can have positive and negative aspects, which are likely to change over time and are mediated by various factors. The experience of the sibling relationship when one child has autism has yet to be fully explored from the perspective of the siblings without autism themselves.\ud \ud Early quantitative research examining the impact of having a sibling with autism indicated various negative effects. Qualitative studies have begun to explore the factors determining the positive and negative effects of having such a sibling, from child sibling perspectives. In this study child sibling's perceptions and experiences of the quality of the sibling relationship with their brother or sister with autism were explored using semi-structured interviews and a grounded theory methodology. Fifteen siblings without autism aged between six and thirteen with a sibling with autism aged between four and fourteen were interviewed. A theoretical account and process model of children's perceptions and experiences of their relationship with their sibling with autism were generated. The analysis indicated that for children who have a brother or sister with autism, a deep need for a relationship with their sibling is apparent. The analysis is discussed in terms of supplementing previous research findings and going some way to explaining the processes behind positive adaptation and negative adaptation to having a sibling with autism. Clinical implications are discussed and suggestions for further research are made.\ud The critical appraisal offers an examination of the research process and the research\ud journey as an enlightening learning experience

Publisher: University of Leicester
Year: 2007
OAI identifier:

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