Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Marjorie Charlop

Reader 2

Tessa Solomon-Lane

Terms of Use & License Information

Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2022 Clare M Boldt


Autistic individuals can struggle with social interactions and forming friendships. While siblings and peers are used for social skills intervention, there is a paucity of research analyzing differences in autistic children’s play with siblings versus peers. Investigating these behavior differences helps clinicians learn how to best support social skill development, improve sibling relationships, and determine ideal peer mediators for interventions. I compare social behaviors of autistic children during play sessions with their sibling versus a non-sibling peer. The behaviors measured were prosocial behaviors, cooperative and parallel play, verbalizations (appropriate and inappropriate), aggressive behaviors, eloping, and stereotypy. Based on previous literature, I hypothesize that the type of dyad, sibling or peer, affects an autistic child’s social play; that positive social behaviors would covary and non-social/negative behaviors would covary; that children’s behavioral profiles would differ. All autistic children played one-on-one with their sibling and with a peer (5 sessions each). Upon coding behaviors, the mean frequency of behaviors were compared between sibling and peer sessions. A principal component analysis analyzed covariance patterns. There are three major takeaways from this study: 1) the individual child drives the variation in behavior not the peer type; 2) there are significant differences in how some autistic participants played with their sibling vs. peer; 3) there are relationships between play behaviors. Together, this work highlights areas of support for some autistic children, the relationships between certain behaviors, areas of support in sibling relationships, and emphasizes improving social skills for both sibling and peer interactions.

Available for download on Monday, April 22, 2024