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Autism
http://aut.sagepub.com Siblings of individuals with an autism spectrum disorder: Sibling relationships and wellbeing in adolescence and adulthood
Gael I. Orsmond, Hsin-Yu Kuo and Marsha Mailick Seltzer Autism 2009; 13; 59 DOI: 10.1177/1362361308097119 The online version of this article can be found at: http://aut.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/13/1/59

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The National Autistic Society

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Siblings of individuals with an autism spectrum disorder
Sibling relationships and wellbeing in adolescence and adulthood
GAEL I. ORSMOND HSIN-YU KUO
Wisconsin-Madison, USA Boston University, USA

autism © 2009 SAGE Publications and The National Autistic Society Vol 13(1) 59–80; 0971191362-3613(200901)13:1

Boston University, USA University of

M A R S H A M A I L I C K S E LT Z E R

A B S T R AC T We investigated sibling relationships and wellbeing in adolescents and adults with a sibling with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Adolescents engaged in more shared activities than did adults. Adolescents reported greater social support, greater use of emotionfocused coping strategies,and less use of problem-focused coping than adults. In adulthood, females with a sister with ASD reported the most positive affect in the sibling relationship and men with a sister with ASD the least. Adolescents engaged in more shared activities and reported more positive affect in their sibling relationship when their sibling with ASD had fewer behavior problems; greater use of problemfocusedcoping buffered the negative effects of behavior problems on sibling engagement. For adults, more shared activities were observed when the sibling with ASD was younger in age and had fewer behavior problems; greater positive affect in sibling relationships was predicted by greater parental support. ADDRESS Correspondence should be addressed to: G A E L O R S M O N D , Department of OccupationalTherapy, Boston University, 635 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215, USA. e-mail: gorsmond@bu.edu

K E Y WO R D S

autism; sibling relationships; siblings

The sibling relationship is unique in that it lasts the longest of all human relationships. Closeness in the sibling relationship, however, changes over time. In the general population, siblings show decreased satisfaction with theirsibling relationship in adolescence, particularly as peer relationships become more important, which is followed by decreased contact in early adulthood as siblings establish their independent lives. During the middle and later adult years, siblings share increased satisfaction and contact (Cicirelli, 1994).
Copyright © The Author(s), 2009. Reprints and permissions:http://www.sagepub.co.uk/journalspermissions.nav DOI: 10.1177/1362361308097119
Downloaded from http://aut.sagepub.com at BTCA Univ de Barcelona on March 11, 2010

59

AU T I S M

13(1) We know relatively little about the trajectory of sibling relationships when one sibling has an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Studies of siblings of individuals with an ASD have focused on the sibling relationship during childhood (e.g.McHale et al., 1986; Rivers and Stoneman, 2003; Roeyers and Mycke, 1995) or have included siblings in varied life stages (e.g. childhood through young adulthood: Bägenholm and Gillberg, 1991). Thus, we have limited knowledge about the sibling relationship at specific points during the life course and how the sibling relationship changes over time in this population. Understanding developmental...
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