Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Child Development



First Reader/Committee Chair

Laura Kamptner


Having a child with autism not only has devastating consequences for the individual child, but it also profoundly influences the entire family, including siblings. Researchers have explored the impact of having an ASD sibling on the typically-developing brother/sister; these studies have yielded inconsistent results, with some children benefitting from the experience while others encounter negative outcomes. The present study examined the role of birth order on ASD children’s typically-developing siblings’ outcome. It was predicted that typically-developing siblings born prior to their ASD sibling would have fewer behavioral difficulties and would do better academically compared to typically-developing siblings born after their ASD sibling. Typically-developing siblings born after their ASD sibling, by contrast, were expected to have more behavioral difficulties and do more poorly in school. Results demonstrated that none of the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire subscales approached statistical or practical significance in siblings who were younger vs. older than their ASD child. However, compared to a normative sample, typically-developing siblings of the ASD children were found to score significantly higher on all the SDQ measures including total difficulties. In addition, it was found that the more years separating the ASD sibling from the typically-developing sibling, the more conduct problems the typically-developing sibling displayed. These findings suggest that typically-developing siblings may benefit from some kind of intervention. For example, creating in-home interventions or services that target typically-developing siblings which may include helping them find positive ways to interact with their ASD sibling, may provide some extra support for these children.