Siblings’ experiences of growing up with children with autism in Taiwan and the United Kingdom

Hsiao-wei Tsai, Katie Cebula, Sophie Hsin-Yi Liang, Susan Fletcher-Watson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: A child’s diagnosis of autism impacts their whole family, in both positive and negative ways, that may be influenced by cultural beliefs. Aims: We aimed to describe the experiences of mothers and typically-developing siblings of children with autism in two cultural contexts. Methods: Fourteen mother-sibling dyads from Taiwan and the UK participated in semi-structured interviews. Results: Whilst there were similarities in sibling experiences, a negative tone regarding the influence of autism was more evident in Taiwan, where families also cited societal judgement and cultural-specific expectations. In the UK, a more balanced tone was apparent: mothers emphasised educating and involving the siblings. It is speculated that UK siblings had a greater understanding of their parents’ stress, leading to more adaptive family dynamics. Various types of support service were mentioned in the UK, whereas the availability of social services and support appeared to be relatively limited in Taiwan. Implications: Our data suggest that cultural context may have a significant impact on the responses of the family members. This is mediated by both differences in attitudes and traditions, and availability of resources. Support for family members needs to be sensitive to such cultural differences, as well as recognising positive experiences.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)206-216
Number of pages11
JournalResearch in Developmental Disabilities
Early online date22 Sep 2018
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018


  • autism
  • siblings
  • Taiwan
  • interpretive phenomenological analysis
  • cross-cultural


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