Attitudes towards autism: comparison of attitudes and knowledge towards autism based on adult sibling experiences

Victoria Morris, Claire Wilson, Karri Gillespie-Smith, Gillian Hendry, Carrie Ballantyne*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review

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Objective: Previous sibling relationship studies focused on child/adolescent negative attitudes, despite positive attitudes being present when a sibling was knowledgeable of autism. However, little is known the quality of sibling relationships in adulthood and what factors influence it. The present study addressed whether having an autistic sibling could predict attitudes and knowledge towards autism.

Method: 109 participants (18+), 56 (mixed: autistic & non-autistic) & 53 (matched: non – autistic & non-autistic) sibling types took part in a mixed method study. Participants completed The Knowledge about Childhood Autism among Health Workers and Societal Attitudes Toward Autism Questionnaires. Open ended questions were asked about experiences of having an autistic sibling.

Result: Independent t-tests found a non-significant difference of attitudes towards autism however, found a significant difference in total knowledge and Knowledge Domain 3 of autism. Linear regressions found sibling type (mixed) was the only predictor for Domain 3 and total knowledge of autism. The 
thematic analysis identified four themes based on sibling experiences: Robbed Childhood, Sibling over Self, The Future and Autism Awareness.

Conclusion: The study has shown having an autistic sibling increases knowledge of specific autistic behaviours but does not change general attitudes towards autism, adding to what we know about autistic sibling relationships from the perspective of the adult population.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jun 2022
EventNeurodevelopmental Disorders Annual Seminar 2022 - University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Duration: 23 Jun 2022 → …


ConferenceNeurodevelopmental Disorders Annual Seminar 2022
Abbreviated titleNDAS 22
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Period23/06/22 → …
Internet address


  • autism
  • adulthood
  • sibling relationships
  • atitudes
  • knowledge


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