Supporting siblings of children with autistic spectrum disorders (ASDs)

PhD Thesis

Eyres, S. 2011. Supporting siblings of children with autistic spectrum disorders (ASDs). PhD Thesis Canterbury Christ Church University Department of Applied Psychology
AuthorsEyres, S.
TypePhD Thesis
Qualification nameDClinPsychol

Section A: A review of current research literature relating to the impact of child ASD upon non-affected siblings and the utility of sibling group interventions. The first section summarises and critiques studies relating to the social, emotional and behavioural adjustment of siblings, including consideration of potential mediating factors and discussion of methodological issues. The second section considers evidence for one intervention for this group, ASD-specific sibling support groups. The review suggests that inconsistencies remain within the sibling research literature and that there is a clear need for UK-based outcome research.
Section B: Background: Having a brother or sister with an ASD can be challenging for non-affected siblings. These children may experience reduced parental attention, isolation from peers and difficult sibling behaviours. This pilot study aimed to investigate the utility of support groups for siblings of children with ASDs.
Methods: A within group, mixed methods design was used with a pre-intervention baseline. Participants were 35 children, aged 7-15 years, with an ASD sibling. All were attending ASD-specific sibling group interventions across the South East of England. Sibling rated self-concept, anxiety and anger and parent-rated emotional difficulties were collected at pre group, post group and follow up. One group also participated in a focus group.
Results: Results indicated significant improvements in self concept and significant decreases in anger and anxiety following participation in an ASD-specific sibling group. Anxiety continued to decrease at 3 month follow up. Parent-rated sibling emotional difficulties did not change. All siblings valued the groups. Four main themes were identified from qualitative data: Siblings valued the opportunity to meet similar others, have fun, learn new information about ASD and apply this knowledge to their own situation.
Conclusions: The present pilot study extends existing literature on ASD-specific sibling groups. This is one of the first studies to combine qualitative data with standardised outcome measures. Participation in an ASD-specific support group may be associated with more positive self concept and decreased anger and anxiety. Given inherent study limitations, further, controlled research studies are warranted.
Section C: A critical appraisal of the study conducted in section B and a reflective account of the process. This includes consideration of research skills learnt, future adaptations, clinical implications and ideas for future research.

KeywordsAutistic spectrum disorders in children; Siblings; Brothers and sisters; Support groups
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Publication process dates
Deposited19 Oct 2011
AcceptedJul 2011
Output statusUnpublished
Accepted author manuscript
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