An exploration into the Lived Experiences of Neurotypical Children who are Siblings to Autistic Individuals
This thesis seeks to provide insights into the everyday realties of neurotypical children who are sharing their upbringings with autistic siblings. This dissertation holds the potential to build upon current sociological understandings of autism within the family context, as the extant relevant research literature has rarely employed sibling samples. In order to accommodate children of different ages and interests, this phenomenological exploration combined the use of semi-structured interviews with a variety of participatory research methods. Whilst the dataset was heterogeneous in many respects, four core findings emerged: (i) several participants presented ranging degrees of acceptance when describing their lives as neurotypical siblings of autistic children; (ii) participants demonstrated that they were conflicted between difference and non-difference; (iii) all participants presented siblinghood as a loving bond, yet for some this was in spite of the hardships brought by autism; (iv) participants who understood autism embraced ‘parentified child’ roles, whilst participants who did not understand autism embraced normative sibling roles.