Date of Degree

2-2016

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Educational Psychology

Advisor(s)

Marian C. Fish

Committee Members

Helen Johnson

Keith Markus

Subject Categories

School Psychology

Keywords

autism spectrum disorders, sibling stress, internalizing behavior, externalizing behavior

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationships among adaptive and problem behaviors in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) and stress, personal adjustment and behavior of typically developing siblings. The participants were 53 sets of parents and typically developing siblings of children with ASDs, recruited from the tri-state New York area. The siblings were between the ages of 8-18 years. Parent participants completed three questionnaires including: 1) The Nisonger Parent Behavior Rating Form, 2) The Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scale-Second Edition, and 3) The Behavior Assessment System for Children-Second Edition, Parent Report. Typically developing siblings completed 1) The Behavior Assessment System for Children-Second Edition, Self- Report, and 2) The Sibling Stress Index. After completing the measures, each participating family was given a $10 gift card.

The results of this study indicated that higher levels of problem behavior in children with ASDs were associated with higher stress ratings in typically developing siblings. While overall adaptive behavior levels in children with ASDs were not associated with sibling outcomes in this sample, the results revealed a significant relationship between socialization and communication skills in diagnosed children and specific sibling outcomes. Typically developing siblings reported higher levels of stress when their diagnosed sibling had weaker socialization skills. Personal adjustment in typically developing siblings increased as communication skills in diagnosed siblings increased.

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