Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

Marriage and Family Therapy: M.S.


Community Psychology, Counseling and Family Therapy


School of Health and Human Services

First Advisor

Kathryn Mayhew

Second Advisor

Michael Mayhew

Third Advisor

Benjamin Wits

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

ASD, Siblings, Relationships, Anxiety


This study focused on the impact of differences in functionality of a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and the potential anxiety experienced by the typically developing (TD) child influencing the relationship quality of the pair. Previous research shows the importance of the relationships between TD children and a sibling with ASD. However, research that focuses on siblings’ relationship quality outside of theory and influencing factors, such as anxiety, functionality, and aggression, is limited, and conclusions on the subject, are mixed. Based on the literature, four hypotheses were developed: (a) the general relationship quality between sibling pairs will significantly increase as the ASD child’s functionality level increases; (b) lower functionality levels in ASD children will increase aggression levels of ASD children; (c) increases in aggression in the ASD child will directly and negatively impact relationship quality in the TD siblings’ report of relationship quality; and (d) anxiety levels of the TD siblings will indirectly influence TD siblings’ report of relationship quality. The study examined 13 pairs of parent/guardian and TD siblings who completed the ASD Assessment Scale/Screening Questionnaire, the modified overt aggression scale, the children’s anxiety scale, and the Network of Relationships-Relationship Qualities Version. Although Spearman’s rank order correlations matrix showed ASD functionality significantly correlated with NRI subcategories satisfaction and dominance, as well as anxiety with satisfaction, it did not support the hypotheses strongly enough. In addition, we ran an independent t-test between NRI subcategories and anxiety grouped from no to mild and moderate to high.


Without the support of the committee members, this thesis project would not have been completed. I owe my gratitude to all those who have made this thesis possible. It was through their guidance, encouragement, and investment that this was possible. Thanks go especially to Kathryn Mayhew, PhD, for all the statistical analysis help and all the encouragement to continue with this project.



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