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South African Journal of Communication Disorders

On-line version ISSN 2225-4765
Print version ISSN 0379-8046


VAN DER MERWE, Christine; BORNMAN, Juan; DONOHUE, Dana  and  HARTY, Michal. The attitudes of typically developing adolescents towards their sibling with autism spectrum disorder. S. Afr. J. Commun. Disord. [online]. 2017, vol.64, n.1, pp.1-7. ISSN 2225-4765.

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.

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