Sibling Warmth, Coping, and Distress among Emerging-Adult Siblings of Individuals with and without Autism

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Virginia Tech


Sibling relationships have been proven to be influential to the well-being of emerging adults. However, the diversity of individuals, particularly in regard to siblings of individuals with disabilities, has rarely been examined. Therefore, the current study explored the association among sibling relationships, coping, and well-being of emerging adults who have non-disabled siblings or autistic siblings. A single online survey was distributed to people between 18-25 who have non-disabled siblings or autistic siblings. The results found that siblings of autistic individuals reported significantly less sibling warmth, less gratitude, and more emotion suppression than siblings of a non-disabled brother or sister. In addition, optimism, gratitude, and emotion suppression were mediators that affected how sibling warmth related to individual’s distress. Furthermore, optimism and gratitude could be mediators that influenced the relationship between sibling warmth and individual’s resilience. In conclusion, the current study proposed that the difference of coping styles may be the underlying mechanism of worse well-being of siblings, and more perceived sibling warmth may be a buffer for ASD-Sibs’ resilience and coping.



autism, sibling relationships, emerging adulthood, coping mechanisms