Date of Paper


Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)


Social Work

First Advisor

Catherine Marrs Fuchsel


Social Work


Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is typically diagnosed in childhood and has a wide range of symptoms, some being more severe than others. The purpose of this research is to examine ASD and how it is impacting families. The empowerment theory, strengths perspective and family systems theory promote resiliency among families who are impacted by an ASD diagnosis. These theories strengthen the individual and family unit by allowing them to live a more fulfilling life. In this study, qualitative research was used. Qualitative research includes data collection, data analysis and drawing conclusions. This study is based off of eight interviews, four being the sibling perspective and four being the parent perspective. There were six primary themes found in the sibling interviews; knowledge of Autism, affect on relationships, feelings of sibling’s autism diagnosis, future care for sibling, meaning, acceptance and advice and extended family. There were also six primary themes found in the parent’s interviews, feelings around autism, knowledge around autism, life changes, affect on relationships, support systems and acceptance, meaning and advice. My overarching research question asks, what are the experiences of parents and siblings with a child diagnosed with autism? After reviewing the literature, my findings produce both similar and contradictory results which were discussed. This research produced both strengths and limitations. The implications of this research allow current and future social workers to relate and work with families who have a child or sibling with an autism diagnosis.

Included in

Social Work Commons