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Keywords:

  • Autism and siblings;
  • characteristics of families with autism;
  • family stress and autism;
  • sibling adjustment and autism;
  • sibling caregivers and autism;
  • sibling relationships and autism

OBJECTIVES:  The purpose of this literature review is to summarize studies on siblings of individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in four major areas, to identify gaps in the literature, and to propose future directions for research of siblings of persons with ASD.

DESIGN AND METHODS:  A systematic review of research published within the past 10 years in peer review journals includes investigations on siblings' and parental characteristics, as well as sibling behaviors, relationships, and adaptation. Twelve studies are synthesized to include purpose, findings, and discussion relating it to previous work.

RESULTS:  Siblings are influenced by the context of their families that are impacted by biological, psychological, sociological, and ecological factors. Research studies are primarily exploratory and no intervention studies are identified.

CONCLUSION:  The literature review of parental and sibling characteristics, relationships, and adaptation support intervention measures for siblings and family members of persons with autism. Assessment of siblings is necessary to identify those who may be at risk for future adjustment problems and maladaptive behaviors.