Graduation Year


Document Type

Master's Thesis


Master of Science



Program Director

Jennifer Lucko, PhD

First Reader

Katherine Lewis, PhD

Second Reader

Zoee Bartholomew, EdD


Children living with an autistic sibling face unique challenges and are in need of support (Angell et al., 2012; Marquis et al., 2019; Molinaro et al., 2020). The purpose of this qualitative study was to understand what the experience of having a sibling with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) is like for a typically developing child during middle childhood or preadolescence, the impacts this experience has, and what types of support they feel they need. Five participants were interviewed for this study; all were in middle childhood or preadolescence, live in Marin County, California, and are in a family with a sibling with ASD. There were four male and one female participants whose ages ranged from 7 to 10 years, and their siblings with ASD ranged in age from 4 to 12 years (three males and two females). Data was analyzed using an open coding process to identify themes. The findings show that siblings of children with ASD need support in many areas, including age-appropriate information about ASD, tools for emotional regulation, coping strategies, and a community of peers that understand their unique experience. Many siblings feel social isolation, embarrassment, and bear the responsibility of educating others about their siblings with ASD. This study contributes to the literature by addressing the lack of existing research on the experiences of having a sibling with ASD for children in middle childhood and preadolescence, which are prime ages for support interventions. Implications for the field of education are that schools have a role to play in providing families with information about the importance of sibling support programs and available resources, and in directly providing (for all students) social emotional learning, disability and neurodiversity awareness, and making disability part of school wide diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.

IRB Number