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Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis-ISU Access Only

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


School of Communication

First Advisor

Aimee E. Miller-Ott


The sibling relationship is one of the most impactful connections a person will have in their lifetime (McHale, Updegraff, & Whiteman, 2012). What can make this relationship even more complex is the addition of a disability. A sibling acquiring a disability can shake the foundation of one’s relationships and identity as there are many necessary changes that accompany a family’s adaptation to a member’s new capabilities (Yeates, Henwood, Gracey, & Evans, 2007). The goal of this study was to gain a better understanding of participants’ experiences with having a sibling acquire a disability. The communication theory of identity was used as a guide to explore the reach of disability into sibling’s personal, relational, communal, and enacted identity (Hecht, 1993). A qualitative analysis of 10 in-depth interviews using Spradley’s (1979) semantic domains revealed the ways in which participants’ relationships with their siblings changed, how their perspective on disability evolved, and what shifts in identity occurred following their siblings’ acquirement of a disability.

KEYWORDS: Communication theory of identity; disability; sibling relationships; family communication


Imported from ProQuest Gomes_ilstu_0092N_11651.pdf


Page Count


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