Publication Date




Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Psychology (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Michael Alessandri

Second Committee Member

Rebecca B. Shearer

Third Committee Member

Heather Henderson

Fourth Committee Member

Jeffrey Brosco

Fifth Committee Member

Anibal Gutierrez


The sibling relationship is the longest lasting relationship in a person’s life, and therefore significant research has sought to understanding genetic and environmental factors that shape the development of this long-lasting bond. The current study aimed to understand the experience of typically-developing (TD) siblings growing up with a sibling who has an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and to determine if their experiences differ from neurotypical (NT) siblings (children who do not have a sibling with ASD). The focus of this study was on the TD siblings’ perceptions of their own self-concept, social support, parental partiality, and overall satisfaction with his or her sibling relationship. It extends previous research by adding a unique observational component, where the interactions between TD and ASD siblings were compared to the behaviors of NT sibling dyads during structured play tasks, to identify whether or not unique patterns of behavior emerge between TD and ASD siblings as compared to NT siblings. Results demonstrate that self-reported perceptions of social support, parental partiality, satisfaction with the sibling relationship and self-concept did not differ by group; however, certain observed sibling play behaviors did differ by group. Taking these associations one step further, analyses that tested whether self-report measures predicted observed play behaviors were partially supported for the sample as a whole; however, these predictions did not differ by group. Implications of these results are discussed, with the ultimate goal of bolstering sibling relationship development for all children, particularly those who have a sibling with ASD.


Autism Spectrum Disorder; Siblings; Relationship Development; Sibling Play Behaviors; Self-Report