Original Research

The attitudes of typically developing adolescents towards their sibling with autism spectrum disorder

Christine van der Merwe, Juan Bornman, Dana Donohue, Michal Harty
South African Journal of Communication Disorders | Vol 64, No 1 | a184 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajcd.v64i1.184 | © 2017 Christine van der Merwe, Juan Bornman, Dana Donohue, Michal Harty | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 13 September 2016 | Published: 26 April 2017

About the author(s)

Christine van der Merwe, Centre for Augmentative and Alternative Communication, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Juan Bornman, Centre for Augmentative and Alternative Communication, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Dana Donohue, Centre for Augmentative and Alternative Communication, University of Pretoria, South Africa; Department of Psychological Sciences, Northern Arizona University, United States
Michal Harty, Centre for Augmentative and Alternative Communication, University of Pretoria, South Africa; Division of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Department of Health and Rehab Sciences, University of Cape Town, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: Understanding how the cognitive, emotional and behavioural components of sibling attitudes interact with one another at various stages of a sibling’s lifespan will allow clinicians to provide better support to children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and their families. However, no research exists which focusses on describing the attitudes of adolescent siblings of children with ASD within the South African context towards their sibling with an ASD. The primary aim of this study was to investigate how typically developing adolescents recall their past attitudes and describe their present attitudes towards their sibling with an ASD.

Methods: Thirty typically developing adolescents who have siblings with ASD were selected to complete the survey instrument, the Lifespan Sibling Relationship Scale, using a cross-sectional design.

Results: Results indicate that the measure has internal consistency within this sample. Wilcoxon signed-ranks tests were used to test for significant differences between the mean values for the two self-reported time periods. Friedman analysis of variances (ANOVAs) was used to test for significant differences in the three components of attitudes, namely affect, behaviour and cognition. Results indicate that participants held more positive attitudes towards their siblings with ASD as adolescents compared with when they were younger and that adolescents rated their current emotions towards and beliefs about their sibling with ASD to be more positive than their current interaction experiences.

Conclusion: As siblings’ attitudes appear to change over time, clinicians should use a lifespan approach to sibling attitudes when designing and implementing supports for siblings of children with ASD.


Keywords

Adolescence; Attitude; Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD); Lifespan Sibling Relationship Scale; Sibling; South Africa

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