Autism and the Family Understanding and Supporting Parents and Siblings


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Ready-to-implement resources and approaches for effective professional care in school and clinical settings.

The reverberations of autism spectrum disorders among parents and siblings can be complex. Parents may grapple with the impact of their child’s initial diagnosis, wrestle with the tension between their professional ambitions and family obligations, and labor to maintain a healthy union with their partners. Brothers and sisters may be given less attention, asked to assume a more adult role than they feel ready for, or strive for meaningful connection and communication with their sibling and parents.

Although the energy of clinicians, teachers, and other professionals working with individuals with autism spectrum disorder is often focused intensively on the child who is diagnosed, the practitioner can also be an invaluable resource for the child’s family.

Drawing upon clinical research and firsthand family interviews, this book helps clinicians understand the experiences of parents and siblings of a child with ASD from the time of diagnosis through adulthood. It provides clear recommendations for sensitive, informed professional support. Step-by-step in each chapter, Fiske elucidates such vital subjects as:

  • Understanding the experience of diagnosis
  • Recognizing patterns of parent stress over time
  • Appreciating and navigating the effects of ASD on relationships between parents
  • Involving and providing support for siblings
  • Integrating grandparents and other extended family in care and treatment
  • Understanding a family’s culture
  • Identifying and developing effective coping strategies
  • Building a strong rapport with parents and family
  • Guiding parents in the treatment of autism

And many more, including key takeaways for assisting families in managing feelings of grief and guilt, navigating support options, treatment resources, and related financial concerns, and calibrating the division of labour in the home.

Autism and the Family supplies all the foundations necessary for professionals to understand the full impact of ASD on the child, siblings, and parents and cultivate an empathic, supportive approach to treatment for the entire family.


  • 1. Understanding the Experience of Diagnosis
  • 2. Recognizing Patterns of Parent Stress Over Time
  • 3. Appreciating the Effects of ASD on Parents and Their Relationships
  • 4. Providing Support for Siblings
  • 5. Integrating Extended Family in Care and Treatment
  • 6. Understanding a Family’s Culture
  • 7. Identifying Key Coping Strategies
  • 8. Building a Strong Rapport With Parents
  • 9. Guiding Parents in the Treatment of Autism

Author Bio:

Kate E. Fiske, PhD, BCBA-D, has provided treatment and support to individuals with autism spectrum disorder and their families for over 15 years in school and home-based settings. She is clinical faculty at the Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology at Rutgers University and an associate director of Behavioral and Research Services at the Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center, where she provides clinical support and conducts research on skill acquisition among learners with autism. Her research and writings on best-practice treatment for individuals with autism spectrum disorder have been published in peer-reviewed journals and book chapters, featured by Psychology Today, and presented at national and international conferences.


“A comprehensive yet accessible look at the complex family systems of children with autism, addressing their stressors, struggles, hopes, dreams, successes, and failures. This book should be required reading for educators, behavior analysts, speech pathologists, psychologists, and anyone serious about improving the lives of individuals with autism and supporting the families who love them.” – Peter Gerhardt, EdD, Executive Director, The EPIC School.