In the Shadows of Autism: A Collective Case Study on Life with a Sibling with Autism in a Military Family
School of Education
Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EdD)
Typically Developing Siblings, Autism, Military, Roles in the Family, Well-being
Education | Special Education and Teaching
Henderson-Rudling, Jennifer M., "In the Shadows of Autism: A Collective Case Study on Life with a Sibling with Autism in a Military Family" (2019). Doctoral Dissertations and Projects. 2154.
The purpose of this collective case study was to understand the typically developing (TD) sibling's well-being and role in a military family with a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) on a military post through the parent and TD sibling perspective. The three theories which guided this research include the social cognitive theory (Bandura, 2001a), self-determination theory (Ryan and Deci, 2000), and family system theory (Bowen, 1966). These theories were utilized to evaluate and better understand the motivations, characteristics, and the social development within the family when one child has a diagnosis of ASD. The research questions were: (1) How is the well-being of a typically developing child in a military family living on a military post impacted by having a sibling with autism in the home? (2) How does having a sibling with ASD impact the roles of the typically developing siblings in a military family who lives on a military post? (3) How do parent perspectives on the experiences of TD siblings compare and contrast to the TD siblings’ actual experiences and perceptions when one sibling has ASD on a military post? Each family had one sibling that had a diagnosis of ASD as well as a TD sibling. Data were collected through observations, photographs, and timelines to provide in-depth understanding of the siblings of children with autism in a military household. Interviews were conducted with four families, one parent and a TD sibling, all from the same military base. Data from interviews, timeline discussions, and photograph discussions were then coded for common themes. Eight themes were identified: protective nature of siblings over their sibling with ASD, separations create a change in lifestyle, the annoying little brother, reactions to home therapy, improvements of sibling relationships as they mature, fairness among siblings, anticipation for what the future holds for their children, and self-reflection of parent choices.