BACKGROUND : Understanding how the cognitive, emotional and behavioural components of
sibling attitudes interact with one another at various stages of a sibling’s lifespan will allow
clinicians to provide better support to children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and
their families. However, no research exists which focusses on describing the attitudes of
adolescent siblings of children with ASD within the South African context towards their
sibling with an ASD. The primary aim of this study was to investigate how typically developing
adolescents recall their past attitudes and describe their present attitudes towards their sibling
with an ASD.
METHODS : Thirty typically developing adolescents who have siblings with ASD were selected
to complete the survey instrument, the Lifespan Sibling Relationship Scale, using a crosssectional
RESULTS : Results indicate that the measure has internal consistency within this sample.
Wilcoxon signed-ranks tests were used to test for significant differences between the mean
values for the two self-reported time periods. Friedman analysis of variances (ANOVAs) was
used to test for significant differences in the three components of attitudes, namely affect,
behaviour and cognition. Results indicate that participants held more positive attitudes
towards their siblings with ASD as adolescents compared with when they were younger and
that adolescents rated their current emotions towards and beliefs about their sibling with ASD
to be more positive than their current interaction experiences.
CONCLUSION : As siblings’ attitudes appear to change over time, clinicians should use a lifespan
approach to sibling attitudes when designing and implementing supports for siblings of
children with ASD.