Beyond Coping: Stress-Related Growth Among Siblings of Children with Special Needs

Wan Hua Sim, Erica Frydenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


This article reports a study on the experiences of positive changes after stressful events described by siblings of children with special needs. These positive changes are referred to as stress-related growth. While much of the research on siblings of children with special needs has focused on understanding the adjustment difficulties they experience, growing evidence suggests that families of children with special needs can experience positive changes. Twenty-five adolescents were asked to describe an event associated with their brother/sister with special needs and to provide ratings on a series of measures of stress, coping and stress-related growth. Five families were interviewed to gain insights into their world. Their stories suggest the possibility of thriving in a family with a child with special needs, and the role of positive family factors in fostering stress-related growth. The study also indicates the need for families and professionals to acknowledge the needs of siblings of children with special needs and to promote productive coping and effective communication and problem-solving skills.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)153-163
Number of pages11
JournalChildren Australia
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • stress-related growth
  • coping
  • siblings
  • adolescents
  • family
  • special needs

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