School of Behavioral Sciences


Doctor of Philosophy in Counselor Education and Supervision (PhD)


Kevin Boyd Hull


autism spectrum disorder, camouflaging, sister, female autism phenotype, interpretative phenomenological analysis


Counseling | Psychology


Despite the amount of material currently available on autism spectrum disorder (ASD), little research has been done specifically on females with ASD. Several studies have looked at the various relationships that individuals with ASD have, but to date no known study has been done specifically on the sibling relationship between neurotypical and autistic sisters. In this study, through semi-structured interviews, four neurotypical women reported on their lived experiences of having a sister with ASD. Their accounts were analyzed using interpretative phenomenological analysis informed by the theory of a unique female autism phenotype. Six superordinate themes appeared in the work: social relationships, interests, internalizing problems, camouflaging, neurotypical sister’s interaction with ASD, and autism and the family. Results supported the existence of a unique female autism phenotype in women with ASD and highlighted additional areas of interest in the interaction of autistic and neurotypical sisters. Findings suggest that neurotypical sisters and their families continue to struggle in conjunction with their autistic sister/daughter. These difficulties pose a unique challenge for the mental health field as ASD comes to be understood as a developmental disability with family-wide implications. Recommendations are provided for future researchers and practitioners regarding understanding and treating families of women with ASD.