Siblings of handicapped children compared to siblings of nonhandicapped children on independence, control and achievement orientation

Elizabeth A Turillon, Pace University


This study compared a sample of 34 siblings of disabled children from 20 families with a comparable sample of 47 siblings from 20 families that did not include a disabled child. Ages of siblings ranged from 16 to 25 years. The two groups were matched, in so far as possible, for gender, age and number of siblings in the family. The conceptual hypotheses were that siblings of handicapped children would be less independent, have less internal control and would be more achievement-oriented to make up for the limitations of the disabled child. Independence was measured by the Independence Subscale in Moos' Family Environment Scale (FES) and the Rathus Assertiveness Schedule. Control was measured by the Control Subscale in Moos' FES and the Internal-External Locus of Control Scale. Achievement orientation was measured by the Achievement Orientation Subscale in Moos' FES and by grade point averages of the subjects. A series of analyses of covariance was used to compare the two samples on all 10 subscale scores of the FES, with a focus on independence, control, and achievement orientation. The major result of the study was the finding of a significant difference in independence between the two samples indicating that siblings of handicapped children are less independent than siblings of nonhandicapped children. The finding that handicap siblings are also less intellectually and culturally oriented to outside activities gives additional evidence of social and emotional deficits. No significant differences were found on the variables of control and achievement orientation nor on the other dependent variables. Additional analyses indicate that parents in handicap families are also less independent and less oriented to intellectual and cultural activities than are parents in nonhandicap families. They are also less open to expressing their feelings to one another. It was also found that male siblings in handicap families had a higher external locus of control than male siblings in nonhandicap families. The results of the study support the empirical evidence that the caretaking role assumed by siblings in handicapped families may be undertaken at the expense of their independent development.

Subject Area

Psychotherapy|Developmental psychology|Families & family life|Personal relationships|Sociology

Recommended Citation

Turillon, Elizabeth A, "Siblings of handicapped children compared to siblings of nonhandicapped children on independence, control and achievement orientation" (1990). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI9109386.



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