We do love them equally: parental perceptions of being a sibling of a child with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD)
This thesis is a qualitative research study that focuses on siblings of children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Even though it is expected that having a child with ASD in the family will influence the whole family including siblings of the child with ASD, the sibling population is rarely included in research related to children with ASD, and there is only limited services available for them. This exploratory study (n=6) is aimed at better understanding the siblings' lives in their family settings in order to identify the siblings' unmet needs and determine how they have been influenced by the child with ASD. This study is also aimed at identifying the most appropriate support for the siblings to help them cope better. The study followed the Resiliency Model of Family Stress, Adjustment, and Adaptation and a narrative theory approach. An in-depth interview with the parents was conducted for the study, so the findings reflect the parents' perception of the siblings. All the themes emerged into two categories: life in the family setting and supports. The findings indicate that the families are striving for balance between the siblings and the children with ASD, but still tend to focus more on the children with ASD. Also, the families tend to have autonomous personal support systems. The parents tend to perceive that these personal support systems are good enough for the siblings; therefore, the parents do not feel that formal support for the siblings was necessary. As a result of the findings, recommendations are made for the organizations that work with individuals with ASD to provide more appropriate services for the families of children with ASD, including siblings. Also, recommendations are made for future studies to clarify more factors related to the siblings due to the limitation of this study; the siblings' lives were reflected vicariously via the parents.