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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A descriptive study of the experiences of growing up with a sibling who has autism Jensen, Shirley Marie


This study explores the range of experiences of growing up in a family where one of the children has autism. The experiences of the non-handicapped siblings, their emotional responses, and their coping methods were studied. This was an exploratory investigation in light of the rarity of research; an attempt to try to describe something of the significance of the experiences of siblings. A case study approach is employed using as primary participants three teen aged children with siblings who have autism. In depth interviews focus upon the primary participants to explore the dynamics and their subjective interpretations of the experience of growing up with their autistic brother or sister. The volunteer participants had lived with their handicapped sibling for at lest five years and had experienced no recent life traumas such as recent family deaths or parental separation. Each of the experiences described in this study is unique, describing the experiences of the primary participants from their own perspective. From theses experiences, common issues emerged including various forms of responsibility, restrictions, privacy, and acceptance. These issues are examined identifying some common themes as well as variations on the themes.

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