Adult sibling relationships with brothers and sisters with severe disabilities

Zach Rossetti, Sarah Hall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


The purpose of this qualitative study was to examine perceptions of adult sibling relationships with a brother or sister with severe disabilities and the contexts affecting the relationships. Adult siblings without disabilities (N = 79) from 19 to 72 years of age completed an online survey with four openended questions about their relationship with their brother or sister with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and extensive or pervasive support needs. Inductive analysis yielded findings related to perceptions of the sibling relationship and contexts that influence the sibling relationship. More than half of the relationships were described as being close. The emotional impact of the relationships included feelings of guilt and joy, as well as frustration and stress that were often related to current caregiving and future planning responsibilities. The contextual factors influencing relationship development included several characteristics of their brother or sister with IDD related to his or her disability, as well as sibling proximity. Implications for research and practice related to sibling relationships are provided for professionals, families, and the siblings themselves.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)120-137
Number of pages18
JournalResearch and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 The Author(s).


  • Intellectual disabilities
  • Severe disabilities
  • Sibling relationships
  • Siblings


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