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Melissa L. McVicker is a 2013 graduate of the PhD Program in Marriage and Family Therapy at Antioch University, New England.

Document Type

Dissertation

Publication Date

2013

Abstract

This dissertation consists of two articles. This first article is a literature review identifying studies of autism spectrum disorders and sibling relationships published in the past 10 years. This search strategy identified 16 articles for inclusion in this review and conveyed the following main outcomes: a) parental factors influence sibling relationship and typically developing child, b) behavioral interactions/problems affect the quality of the sibling relationship, c) genetic factors have varying impact on diagnosis, and d) effects/outcomes for typically developing sibling are both positive and negative. This review supported the call for a better understanding of the family factors on the sibling relationship, as well as highlighted the absence of qualitative studies that include the voices of children and their siblings regarding their relationship experience. The second article reports on a qualitative study exploring the experiences of children who have a sibling with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) using phenomenological methodology. The aim was to develop a better understanding of how the unique experience of having a sibling with ASD may alter, impact and enrich the lives of siblings. Data were collected through participant interviews, photographs, and drawings. The data analysis revealed the following themes: a) understanding of ASD, b) challenges and benefits of having a sibling with an ASD, c) relationships and interactions with others, d) attunement and unique connection, and e) advocacy and acceptance. The findings have implications for therapeutic practice, education, and research involving families with children when one child is diagnosed with an ASD. The electronic version of this dissertation is available in the open-access OhioLink ETD Center, www.ohiolink.edu/etd

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