Date of Paper


Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

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


Social Work

First Advisor

Catherine L. Marrs Fuchsel, Ph.D., LICSW, LCSW


Social Work


Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can be an overwhelming experience for the caregivers and families of those diagnosed. According to estimates from Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network, about 1 in 88 children have been identified with an autism spectrum disorder. This is a small, qualitative study that explores the impact ASD has on siblings and their identity development. Previous research regarding this subject has focused primarily on the sibling’s stress and experiences when growing up with a child diagnosed with ASD. However, there is little to no literature on ASD impact on a sibling’s identity. The purpose of this study was to explore the lived experience of siblings of individuals diagnosed with ASD and the potential impact this played on their identity development. Given the rate of ASD in children, it is a natural extension to explore how such diagnoses affect the siblings’ and their own identity development. The goal of this study was to contribute to and expand upon the literature on the experiences of individuals who have a sibling with ASD and to hopefully develop a better understanding of the impact of ASD on siblings. In this study, qualitative research was used. Qualitative research includes data collection, data analysis, and drawing conclusions. There were five themes found in the sibling’s interviews; 1) Definition of Self, 2) Family Dynamics, 3) Childhood, 4) Future Care, 5) and Reflection. This study is based on eight semi-structured interviews. The participants explored the sibling perspective and experience of having a sibling with ASD. The primary research question is the following: What is the impact on sibling’s identity of a sibling diagnosed with autism? The research produced both strengths and limitations. The implications of this research will inform current and future social SIBLING IDENTITY FORMATION ii workers to relate to and work with individuals who have a sibling diagnosed with an autism spectrum diagnosis.

Included in

Social Work Commons