Visible together: a support group for siblings of children with autism spectrum disorder
Hirsch, Chloe Katya
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Typically developing (TD) siblings of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are at risk for developing social-emotional issues, such as: behavioral issues; internalizing problems; difficulty coping with emotions; feelings of isolation or being misunderstood; and a lack of supportive networks of peers with similar home experiences (Kryzak, Cengher, Feeley, Fienup, & Jones, 2015; Vermaes, van Susante, & van Bakel, 2011). Occupational therapy is a family-centered profession that aims to enhance the health of individuals and their family members through meaningful participation in occupations. However, most ASD research and intervention programs related to family-centered care are addressed to the child with ASD and their parents, leaving the TD siblings a relatively neglected group. This is evidenced by the paucity of research and services focused on this population. Therefore, the proposed solution, and purpose of this doctoral project, is the creation of the ViSIBle Together Support Group (VTSG), which is focused on enhancing the health and well-being of the TD siblings by bettering their familial and social relationships and fostering their involvement in meaningful occupations. The current project describes the creation of a manual, known as the ViSIBle Together Manual (VTM), that occupational therapists can use to implement a VTSG in their local setting. It is my goal that the findings of this project will serve to enhance awareness of the needs of TD siblings of children with ASD and be applied to build and inform future services and policies to support TD siblings across the globe.