Date of Award

Summer 2011

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Chair

Tammy Barry

Committee Chair Department


Committee Member 2

Christopher Barry

Committee Member 2 Department


Committee Member 3

Sterett Mercer

Committee Member 3 Department



Existing literature regarding the maladjustment of siblings of children with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) remains inconclusive. Some studies suggest that difficulties associated with having a child with an ASD in the family result in an adverse experience for both parents and siblings. Dissent within. the literature suggests that certain factors, both environmental and genetic, must be present for maladjustment to occur in typically-developing siblings. Parents of a child with an ASD and a typicallydeveloping sibling (ASD group) and parents of two typically-developing siblings (Control group) provided data via online questionnaires. Both diagnostic category and autism symptoms severity were tested as possible moderators, but neither produced significant interactions with externalizing behaviors in the child with an ASD or an age/gender matched control child when predicting externalizing behaviors, internalizing symptoms, or social problems in the typically-developing sibling. However, externalizing behaviors and internalizing symptoms in the child with an ASD or matched typically-developing child significantly related to maladjustment in their sibling across the overall sample. Thus, it appears having a sibling with an ASD is neither a risk nor protective factor for typically-developing siblings. Also, behavior problems in children with an ASD may not be a strong predictor of maladjustment in typically-developing siblings. However, these results are concordant with the current literature base, and other possible moderators and mediators should be considered in future research.

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Psychology Commons