“Does he know I’m his brother?” A Multi-Method Inquiry into Sibling Relationships Involving Children with Disabilities

Annabel David


A mixed method approach was used to investigate the impact of disability and family-size on sibling relationships. The quantitative component used a questionnaire to analyse 191 sibling dyads in terms of companionship, empathy, teaching / caring, rivalry, aggression / conflict, and avoidance. Lower levels of positive behaviours and higher levels of negative behaviours were reported when one of the children was disabled. Non-disabled children displayed more positive and less negative behaviour towards their disabled siblings in three-child-families, compared with those in two-child-families. The qualitative component consisted of interviews with four families and the data was analysed using a grounded theory approach. The disability’s manifestation, the non-disabled child’s development and the familial situation were all identified to influence the relationship quality.

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ISSN 1754-2383 [Online] ©University of Plymouth