STEPS (Sibling Techniques for Enhancing Play and Support) for Strengthening the Sibling Bond of Children with Autism
Sibling relationships are a unique and special bond throughout the life span. Having a brother or sister with autism may present some extra difficulties and barriers to form a close and meaningful relationship. While siblings play an important role in the child with autism’s life, there is no consistent method for involving siblings in treatment for individuals with ASD (Shivers & Plavnick, 2014). Furthermore, previous literature has indicated that social support for siblings may be a protective factor for emotional and behavioral outcomes (Hastings, 2003). The proposed research project, STEPS for Strengthening the Sibling Bond of Children with Autism, will evaluate a novel treatment package including training siblings on play strategies in combination with a sibling support group to increase positive sibling play and perceived relationship quality. Using a concurrent multiple baseline design across groups, nine sibling dyads will participate in the eight week STEPS program. Specifically, the intervention package includes behavior skills training (BST) on simple play strategies and participation in a sibling support group. It is anticipated the combination of BST on play strategies and participation in a support group will have positive effects on sibling use of play strategies and increase knowledge of autism characteristics. The long term goals of this research project are to evaluate effective interventions that will improve quality of sibling play, expand the amount of shared activities, and increase the quality of the sibling relationship.