Predictors of sense of coherence in typically developing adolescent siblings of individuals with autism spectrum disorder

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Abstract

Background

Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may be a stressor for family members yet there is little published research on the impact of having a child with ASD on their typically developing (TD) adolescent siblings. According to Antonovsky's salutogenic model, a strong sense of coherence leads to the view that the stressor is a manageable challenge rather than a burden and promotes healthier adaptation. This study examines the relationship between stress, TD sibling resources and the sense of coherence in TD siblings.

Method

This quantitative mail-based study uses a survey methodology, analysing the responses of TD adolescent siblings (n = 96) of individuals with autism, Asperger's syndrome, or pervasive developmental disorder – not otherwise specified to several rating scales. Adolescent siblings, ages 11 to 18 years, completed the Adolescent Coping Orientation for Problem Experience (ACOPE), Network of Relationship Inventory – Social Provision Version (NRI-SPV), Youth Self Report (YSR), and Sense of Coherence (SOC) instruments; parents completed the Child Autism Rating Scale – 2nd Edition (CARS-2).

Results

The salutogenesis model was used to guide and inform this research. Findings suggested the following: (a) the stress of ASD severity and resource of adjustment are related in TD adolescent siblings; (b) TD sibling adjustment has a strong relationship with sense of coherence levels; and (c) a greater number of positive coping strategies buffer TD sibling coherence levels when ASD severity scores are high.

Conclusions

ASD severity and TD adolescent sibling resources influence sense of coherence in adolescent TD siblings of individuals with ASD.

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