Experiences of Adolescents Having a Sibling with Autism Spectrum Conditions: A Qualitative Analysis

Author: Rabia Saleem

Supervisor: Dr. Iram Bokharey

Degree: MS

Year: 2008-2010

University: Centre for Clinical Psychology, Punjab University, Lahore, Pakistan


The present study was a qualitative investigation into the lived experiences of adolescent siblings of children having Autism Spectrum Conditions, using a phenomenological design. Semi-structured face to face interviews were conducted with 10 adolescent siblings (ages 12-19) of already diagnosed children. An interview guide was formulated based on assumptions of the researcher and literature review to give the interview process some structure. Interviews were recorded on a voice recording USB device and transcribed for analysis. Informed consent was sought from all participants and confidentiality was ensured throughout. Data was analyzed using Hycner’s explicitation process. Internal validity was ensured using three peer reviewers having at least 10 years of clinical experience, as well as outlining researcher bias in detail. External validity was ensured via use of rich, thick descriptions. Reliability was ensured by giving a detailed account of the research methodology. The results revealed eight major themes with their corresponding sub themes and a unique theme. These included Confusion and Denial, Understanding and Acceptance, Protective Relationship, An Autistic -way of life. Social Issues, Unique Emotional Experience, Development of Unique Qualities, Insecurity about Future and With or without you relationship, respectively. These results have practical implications for involvement of siblings in therapeutic process of children with ASC, as it gives them an opportunity to battle their own issues, as well as provide some relief to parents who become over burdened with the care taking process. The study also has implications for future research to focus on positive factors in the experience of families having disabled children.

Keywords: : Autism, Phenomenological Design, Lived Experiences, Siblings.

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