Influences on the psychosocial adjustment of siblings of children with autism spectrum disorder in Taiwan and the United Kingdom

Hsiao-Wei Joy Tsai, Katie Cebula, Susan Fletcher-Watson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Adjustment of siblings of children with ASD must be viewed within cultural context.•UK siblings reported greater difficulties than Taiwanese siblings.•Difficulties in peer relationships were a concern for UK siblings.•Different coping styles related to siblings’ adjustment in Taiwan and the UK.•The broader autism phenotype influenced outcome, but only in the UK siblings. Background The present paper examined the psychosocial adjustment of typically developing (TD) siblings of children with ASD and the extent to which this is impacted by key demographic and psychosocial variables. A cross-cultural perspective was adopted to compare influences on coping and adjustment in Taiwan and the United Kingdom (UK). Method155 mother-TD sibling dyads participated, 80 in Taiwan and 75 in the UK. Participants reported by questionnaire on family demographics, symptom severity of the child with ASD, TD siblings’ life events, subjective well-being, social support, coping strategies, parent and sibling Broader Autism Phenotype (BAP) level and adjustment outcome. Results According to their self-report, TD siblings’ in Taiwan were fairly well adjusted, while slightly elevated difficulties were found in the UK sample, with peer problems the biggest concern. Impact of life experience, sibling coping, and social support were related to adjustment in both countries, but with different coping styles important in the two countries. In the UK, parents’ coping style and siblings’ own BAP level also contributed to outcome. Some differences between Taiwan and the UK samples may result from culturally-specific patterns in evaluation of child behaviours. Conclusions The findings from this large-scale questionnaire study have implications for clinical practice. UK siblings’ adjustment might be enhanced via intervention on parent coping style, while Taiwanese siblings may be better supported through promotion of their own coping. Health professionals should be aware of the influence of BAP levels in parents and TD siblings, which might change the way they experience stress and respond under pressure.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-129
Number of pages15
JournalResearch in autism spectrum disorders
Early online date6 Oct 2016
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2016

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • autism
  • typically developing sibling
  • cross-culture
  • adjustment


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