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To have another baby when my first is autistic?

(90 Posts)
PalominoPony Sun 01-Feb-15 14:00:57

I have one DS, who is 2, who has autism. We have been told that the chances of our next child (should we decide to have one) having autism is roughly 15-20%. (This is a general estimate, not specific to us - it is given on the basis of the number of autistic children in the UK with autistic siblings and they are not able to be more specific as doctors still don't know what causes autism.)

Do you think it would be unreasonable to have another child? Where would you draw the line? For example, for some couples, the chance of them having children with cystic fibrosis is 50%-50%, and I know I wouldn't take that chance. What is a reasonable chance to take when a child may be born with a severely disabling condition? 50%, 25%, less?

I love my DS dearly and would love another but am fully aware of the struggles he will face in life and I am wondering if it's fair to bring a child into the world when there is a significant chance of them being autistic?

Please give me your honest views!

BrucieTheShark Sun 01-Feb-15 14:06:09

There is no easy answer to this. My DS has autism. We already had a DD when he came along and she does not have autism.

We would have liked another child and, if I'm honest, this only didn't happen because of my age and the difficulty of coping with DS as time passed. We did get to the point where we felt that if another child did have autism then we knew we could deal with it and I suspect that's important.

We would have taken the chance - I have no idea if this is selfish or not. I think you just have to think carefully and then go with how you feel. And don't let anyone comment on or judge your own personal decision. It is yours and you have an absolute right to make it.

BrucieTheShark Sun 01-Feb-15 14:08:07

Also, this study was published recently:

The risk factors are certainly not as straightforward as the 15-20% idea makes it sound.

LaurieFairyCake Sun 01-Feb-15 14:11:00

For me it would depend on how much care your first child needs and for how long - if he's going to be high functioning and have a great life that's quite different from needing care your whole life.

Massively agree it's your decision.

dietcokeandwine Sun 01-Feb-15 14:18:08

OP this is a difficult many different questions, various pros and cons. The risk of a second child with autism v the possible benefits to your DS of having a sibling. The balancing act of two children's needs, whether both ASD or one ASD/one NT - how do you think you would cope?

Personally, no, I don't think it would be unreasonable to have another child and let's face it you would be going into it with your eyes open and aware of the risks. Provided you felt you and your DH could cope with it, but I am presuming from your OP that you feel that you can.

I have three boys, my eldest was DX with Aspergers when I was pregnant with DS2. DS1 is very high functioning (copes well and achieves in mainstream school) but has also since been DX with ADHD. I am well aware that life won't, potentially, be as easy for him as it may well be for DS2 (who is NT and smiley and confident and makes friends/picks up academic stuff at school with an ease that stuns me on a regular basis). But to me, the benefits of siblings - that support network at home, DS1 will always have his siblings even if other social friendships are difficult and fraught - outweighed the risk of another child with SEN and we went on to have DS3.

So far (DS3 is only just two) my hunch is that DS3 is also going to be NT - probably a bit too early to be absolutely confident, but he's hitting all milestones and is chatty and social. No 'red flags' so far. So for me, the 'gamble' (if you can call it that) has been ok. Other than that, of course, DS1 will be very aware that his younger siblings don't/ won't struggle with things that he finds hard. Which will bring another set of challenges!

But I still think that for all of us the benefits of going ahead to have more DC massively outweighed the risks of ASD for those DC. Then again, easy for me to say that given my younger two. I might not be advising the same if I'd had two more severely autistic boys.

It is a hard decision! But good luck in whatever you decide to do.

Dumpylump Sun 01-Feb-15 14:19:19

I did. Ds1 was 3 by the time we had a formal diagnosis, but the process took a while and dh and I had already realised what was going on before we had our meeting with the consultant.
Ds2 was born when ds1 was 3 and a half.
He is nt and he and his big brother get on so well, they are now 14 and 17. We lost dh 11 years ago and the three of us have been a wee team since then. I can't imagine life without either of my boys and I know that when I'm not here any more ds2 will make sure that his big brother is ok.

MimiAndPops Sun 01-Feb-15 14:21:33

My DS has autism had we're TTC #2. I wish I'd started trying when DS was 2. A few years ago he quite liked babies, would help with their bottles and things. Now he's 4 and so set in his ways that even getting a new baby cousin upset him.

Sometimes I think I'm doing the worst thing ever, why would I deliberately destroy the world he knows, his whole life will change. That said, we want more children and his autism isn't going to stop that.

Certainly not unreasonable to have another child. If I had two children with autism though I probably wouldn't try for another baby, that's where I'd draw my line.

insanityscratching Sun 01-Feb-15 14:22:03

I have five children my fourth has autism and was very difficult. We were definitely not having anymore. When he was seven I got pregnant and was devastated, ds was still in nappies, aggressive, destructive and was yet to sleep through the night (he's nearly 20 and still doesn't) For me, I couldn't terminate and dd was born soon after his eighth birthday. She has been our biggest blessing, she brought joy where our lives had been pretty bleak. Ds has always adored her and seeing them together has been my greatest joy. Dd has autism too.
No one can tell you what is right for your family tbh but having dd was definitely right for ours.

themightyfandango Sun 01-Feb-15 14:24:50

I have 3 DC, the eldest two have varying SN . The middle one is most affected and I often feel he would be happier and more manageable as an only child. I think as a result we as his parents would probably be happier too. Having said that I can't fully bring myself to regret his siblings as they are all special in their unique ways.
Sorry this answer probably doesn't help answer your question at all.

Triooooooooooo Sun 01-Feb-15 14:24:56

If youre prepared to take the risk than go for it I say.

In my case I have two dcs who have Autism, most families I know have more than one child with some form of Autism, the 15 to 20% risk seems very conservative to me.

mytartanscarf Sun 01-Feb-15 14:25:09

I am the second born in a family where the first born (my brother) is autistic - although it wasn't diagnosed for ages!

So glad my parents did! grin

Thumbwitch Sun 01-Feb-15 14:26:05

I have a family member whose DD1 has autism. She has 2 brothers, one of whom also has autism, and the other of whom no one is yet sure - he displays some odd traits, but doesn't have a diagnosis - it may just be that he acts up because of his brother and sister's behaviours, or it may be that he has something else going on that hasn't yet been identified (he's 5).
They are a lovely family but they would be the first to say it's been really hard work (getting easier as the children get older, luckily for them, but it might turn the other way again once they hit puberty/their teens)

DeladionInch Sun 01-Feb-15 14:28:00

I would say it's more important to weigh up whether you feel your family is complete, the benefits of having a sibling to your existing child, and how you would help your next child manage their role of carer.

I don't think having one child who happens to have some additional needs precludes you from having another child if you feel you'd like to and can manage it

AndreaZuckerman Sun 01-Feb-15 14:28:24

My dd1 has Autism, although she wasn't yet diagnosed when I had dd2. DD2 doesn't have Autism, and neither does DSD who's the eldest. If I'd known dd1 had Autism before having dd2 is still wouldn't have stopped me having another baby.

SoonToBeSix Sun 01-Feb-15 14:28:41

No yanbu, once I give birth we will have had three more dc since dd's diagnosis. We are lucky though in that she really does love her siblings however she does struggle to interact with them appropriately at times.

SnowWhiteAteTheApple Sun 01-Feb-15 14:29:44

Only you and your DH can decide. For me it would be no, those are quite high odds and I couldnt chose to have a child knowing the risk.

Even if they are perfectly healthy there's still lots to consider. Caring for your first is likely to always take priority and they will have to compromise in lots of areas. That's a huge ask from a child.

mytartanscarf Sun 01-Feb-15 14:32:09

For me it wasn't. I never thought of it as a big ask. He's just my lovely, talented, quirky, sensitive, odd, funny (often unintentionally!) big brother.

The greatest gifts our parents gave us were each other. I don't doubt my life would have been different with a NT sibling but I wouldn't change him for the world!

Smartleatherbag Sun 01-Feb-15 14:35:58

We had ds2 several years before realising /accepting ds1 has as. Ds2 seems nt. I wouldn't be without them and they are very close and loving. I have a lot of support though. Also had a breakdown last year, partly due to the stress of dear dear child one.
It is hard knowing how hard things may be for ds1, but there's no guarantee ds2 will have an easier life tbh.

LegoLady95 Sun 01-Feb-15 14:39:37

DS1 has severe autism. He is now 7, non verbal, special school. I fell pg unexpectedly when he was 6months, so we had no idea then that he would have autism. Ds2 was born when DS1 was 15 months. We were hapy that a decision based on risk of asd had been taken out of our hands. 4 years later we wanted one more and had DD1 aware that our child may be at higher than usual risk of an asd.
I believe that siblings have given DS1 experience of coping with noise, personal space, waiting turns etc. that is invaluable for a child who struggles with learning and social skills. I will also say that a part of having a third was to allow DS2 the chance of a typical sibling relationship which he cannot have with DS1. DS2 and DD are very close.
I am also comforted by the fact that when DH and I are dead there will be two other adults in the world who care about DS1. I would never expect them to look after him but I would hope that they will look out for him and be in touch with his care-givers. He won't be able to live even semi-independently.

NickiFury Sun 01-Feb-15 14:40:38

I have two with ASD. Concerns were raised for my PFB when I had just given birth to my second child. He was diagnosed then it turned out my second child had it too. I have two utterly amazing children, I am SO very lucky smile. Knowing what I know and having experienced life with two with ASD I would do the same again every time. It's also worth noting I am a lone parent with little input from their father and I still would. For me autism is not a negative thing. I feel lucky to have my children exactly as they are. On the flip side though, I DO worry about their future when I am not around and all I can do is take it one day at a time.

raffle Sun 01-Feb-15 14:43:12

We have DS1 with ASD, and went on to have DS2 who is probably NT (only just turned 2). We have quite a big gap between them as we wanted to be sure we could manage DS1 before chucking a baby into the mix.

mytartanscarf Sun 01-Feb-15 14:45:17

Lego flowers

Living with my brother was not an easy life but I am a firm believer that just sometimes the hardest things are the most special.

Here are the AWESOME things about having a brother with Aspergers!

1. You never get lost! My brother is like a sat nav - he has a phenomenal memory!

2. His interests become yours because they are so passionate. I know my dinosaurs! I also know about Star Wars, roman history and erm - more recently - the missing plane!

3. They are always honest when your outfit looks crap!

4. They don't have a mean bone in their bodies or that's true of my DB. Despite being incredibly physically strong he is very gentle.

5. So so patient. My brother just doesn't know the meaning of the word moody.

6. You explain the world to them and through that understand the world better yourself.

7. You become used to an early age to the fact some people are mean and this isn't a reflection on you.

Yes, my brother is autistic but that's not going to stop him or me. All I know is I'm right behind him whatever he does and I think his life is really enhanced by me but then mine is too by him.

LostMyBaubles Sun 01-Feb-15 14:45:33

I have 3 boys
eldest is always in and out of hospital. He has health problems so has a lot of over night stays. Hes autistic and ? Adhd.

I wanted to stop at 2 as when ds2 was 6weeks old ds1 had to go to theatre, dh couldnt have the day off work so I had both in hospital with me. Thats when we decided no more. Few weeks later I found out I was expecting. I was going to have an abortion but couldnt do it. I had a few hospital stays during the pregnancy too and so did ds1. Was bloody hard.
I would love to try again for a girl this time but I wouldn't be able to manage so just had the coil put in.

Ds1 asd and ds2 is also showing asd traits.
ds1 is 4, ds2 is 18months and ds3 is 6 months

mytartanscarf Sun 01-Feb-15 14:46:31

Nicki - autism isn't a begatice

Too right. It's part of them and you love them.

So far so good!

Aeroflotgirl Sun 01-Feb-15 14:49:53

My dd nearly 7 has Autism and we have a 3 year old ds, who has speech delay, but apart from that, nt. Yes there is always a risk that your second child could have ASD. Dd is fairly high functioning and doesent require much care.

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