The Neurophysiological Basis of Autism and its Effects on Sibling Relationships
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
Abstract3.5 million Americans are affected by autism. While there is no known cause, changes in the structure and function of the central nervous system lead to a range of behavioral, social, and learning disabilities. This can result in the autistic person having difficulties interacting with others and in particular strained relationships with family members or siblings. Current literature reports positive and negative effects of the presence of a child with autism on sibling relationships. This thesis will explore the relationship between an autistic person and their sibling. The central hypothesis is that during childhood people will be positive about the idea of having a new sibling. During adolescence their optimism will wane; however with more expectations and responsibilities as an adult they will need to reach out and help their brother/sister. To explore this, interviews were conducted with people with autistic siblings to learn about the effect of autism on their relationship. Responses were mixed with most people aware of the reality their autistic siblings face and accepting of the disease and their sibling. Out of love for their sibling or in honor of final parental wishes, they realize they will have to adopt responsibility for their autistic sibling.