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Having a child with ASD, when to have a sibling?

(26 Posts)
MangoMonster Tue 27-Sep-11 20:52:21

I always thought I'd like a 2 to 3 year age gap between children. Just personal preference based on the age gap between my brother and I. Just wondering if having a child with ASD and the uncertainty it brings has had any affect on your decision to have another child and what age gap would be best?

Also, on a side note if anyone has a genetic visual condition such as childhood cataract or similar, what impact did this have on your decision.

Just thinking out loud as it's been swimmig around my head for a while.

lisad123 Tue 27-Sep-11 21:16:39

we have 5 years between our girls (not via choice, but sadly 2 miscarriages inbetween). However, BOTH my girls have Autism, and so we have stopped at 2.
The age gap is quite good as it means dd1 was at school when dd2 was baby, so had one to one time with both of them. I also think it helped as she had just started to be able to learn about other people. I think there is never a good time to have children, and never a good time to add to a family.

MangoMonster Tue 27-Sep-11 21:36:38

Thanks Lisa have to say that I agree there will never be a perfect time. I know this sounds strange but I always imagined having at least two, as I want them to always have each other when were are no longer here, so I want them to be close and I hope a smallish age gap would help that, but I don't feel ready and I wonder when I will feel ready. Maybe I will understand more about my ds difficulities when he's 5 ish.

TalesOfTheUnexpected Tue 27-Sep-11 21:38:21

For me, I wanted children close together. Couldn't conceive, had ivf, one perfect daughter. Quickly followed a natural pregnancy 8 months later of twins who have multiple difficulties, including eye problems.

I think an important point to consider is if your DC's eye condition is genetic and likely to be present in another baby you have? I was told there was a 1 in 4 chance that any other child I had would have the eyesight problem my boys have.

One of my boys is being assessed for ASD. It's pretty obvious he has it but his assessment was postponed 2 years ago due to other problems which required more immediate attention.

The visual problem was diagnosed before the suspected Autism.

My personal opinion would be think long and hard (as it seems you are doing). ASD isn't supposed to be passed on but how many people on this board have more than one child with it?

In all honesty, if I had had my boys first, with their eyesight problems, poss ASD in one, Global Development Delay in both...no, I would never have had another child. No age gap would have been sufficient.

I don't want this to be a negative post. Just an honest one. You know your child has difficulties; perhaps the best route forward is finding out the chances of that happening again and deciding if it's something you would be prepared and able to cope with or not.

lisad123 Tue 27-Sep-11 21:44:24

we always always planned to have 3 children, but have decided to stick at 2. We didnt know dd1 difficutlies when i was pregnant with dd2, or that dh had cancer. But I think if I did know we would have had her anyways, dd1 was never meant to be an only child. However, if i had dd2 first I might have changed my mind grin

ArthurPewty Tue 27-Sep-11 22:04:27

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ArthurPewty Tue 27-Sep-11 22:05:09

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

insanityscratching Tue 27-Sep-11 22:11:15

There are 18 months between my first two and 21 months between my second two ds with autism is the fourth child. I intended to never have another child after ds because he was challenging to say the least.
I had dc 5 just after his eighth birthday a girl who also has autism.
I'd say the huge gap has great advantages, I felt more confident, there is no rivalry and they obviously adore each other.I have to say as well having one child when you usually have pairs has been an absolute doddle.

Eloise73 Tue 27-Sep-11 22:28:05

We always wanted a small gap but once we knew our DD had ASD we put off our plans to have another. Now that she's almost 4 and is doing so well we feel confident to start trying again in the new year.

Definitely having a 4-5 year gap is helpful just because you'll have one in school whilst the other is a baby. Plus, like mentioned before, a nice gap gives your oldest child a chance to understand what is going on etc. I also think it would depend on what your child is like with change. Our DD is great with change, it doesn't really bother her and she's ok meeting new people so we hope she'd be ok with a sibling. If she wasn't this way we wouldn't even consider it.

We also feel more comfortable now as we aren't 'beginners', especially re the ASD and we would probably start doing a lot of therapy at home with the child at 12-18 months, regardless of whether they had ASD or not, just in case (it didn't really show up in our DD until she was 16 months old).

Although you guys who are saying your second one is a bit of a handful are putting me off! DD is so sweet and a joy to have around so we're pretty sure we wouldn't get another child like that lol!

MangoMonster Tue 27-Sep-11 22:36:38

tales thanks for your post. I don't see it as negative at all. I'm thinking I wouldn't want to put another child through what ds has to contend with. We might know more after the genetic results bit we might not. So difficult.

ArthurPewty Tue 27-Sep-11 23:06:33

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

insanityscratching Tue 27-Sep-11 23:16:55

I had it the opposite way round ds was challenging, aggressive, destructive and totally self led. Dd on the other hand is passive, gentle and an absolute delight to everybody who knows her.She is my compensation for the years of hell ds put me through wink

bialystockandbloom Tue 27-Sep-11 23:37:01

I've got 2.5 years gap between ds (asd) and dd (nt). In all honesty I wish I'd had a bigger gap - so that ds had been at least 3yo, or even nearer 4yo when she was born. He has changed/matured/developed hugely over the past year (mainly thanks to ABA).

He didn't cope very well when she was born, and had not yet been dx, so it was hard for all of us (and incidentally probably delayed us getting him seen as we were busy with dd). Now he is 4.5 and much more able to cope.

Sorry, a ramble, but ime I would have liked 3 or 4 year gap.
Time/circumstances were not on our side though, and at the time I got pg with dd we had no definite idea about ds's asd.

HTH (?)

TapselteerieO Wed 28-Sep-11 09:35:19

I had my nt dd first, then two years and 9 months later I had ds, for the first two years we had worries about him but not linked to asd, between the ages of 2 and five was the hardest with our ds, so I agree with waiting until they are five.

Our ds is seven now and a very loving child, but he has been very noise sensitive and finds crying upsetting, he is also very possessive of me - so when he is at school I get a break, but I do think he is only now at the age he could handle a sibling. Having an older nt sibling first has helped him more than anything and I am very thankful for that, for my dd I would really like another sibling, knowing how lovely my ds is despite all the stress. I go round in circles, lots, agree with pps who have said there is never a good time.

Good luck with your decision.

Spinkle Wed 28-Sep-11 10:08:24

I We made on conscious decision to NOT have another child. When DS' ASD became apparent at about 2.5yrs old would have been about the time we might have thought about another but, frankly, we had a lot of hard work with DS.

Depressing times of trying to get ANYTHING from DS really took a toll on me. Not DH cos he was at work. He didn't have the trail of appointments, telephone calls etc

I looked at the statistics and having rolled the dice once, decided against it. DH has been sad about that because he would like another.

Don't get me wrong, I love my son with all my heart and he deserves all my attention/energy. I don't have enough to give another one.

When DS went to school I got.....................a dog grin

maryellenwalton Wed 28-Sep-11 10:50:01

We have 2 and three quarter yrs between dd (NT) and ds1 (ASD) and then again. 2 and three quarter years between ds1 and ds2 (NT). For us the age gaps (in both directions) have been absolutely perfect. They are close enough in age to rub along really well together, without being so close that it was much harder work.

I think the fact that ds1 was still so small when ds2 came along was good as he adjusted to the new addition very quickly. Plus his big sister was at school and he himself was at nursery several mornings a week by that point.

StarlightMcKenzie Wed 28-Sep-11 10:59:08

ASAP, I would say. The best thing we every did for ds. And DD is a bright little thing because of how we slow down our language etc for ds. She has kind of been hot-housed by proxy.

21 month age gap.

I The reason I think it is better to have them sooner rather than later is because there is more chance of them becoming a playmate, and learning negotation skills over toys etc. when the child with ASD is still young.

StarlightMcKenzie Wed 28-Sep-11 11:06:07

Forgot to say. It IS hard. They fight ALL the time.

But research shows that higher emotional intelligence is linked to having argued loads with siblings, and ds needs to improve his higher emotional intelligence. At least, that is what I tell myself when I lock myself in the bathroom for 5 minutes peace.

Even though they fight though, they still have an ubelievable bond. If one is missing the other will ask continuously for them, and if you give one of them a sweet they will ask to make sure the other gets one.

insanityscratching Wed 28-Sep-11 11:38:26

Having dd too was the best thing we did for ds too despite the age gap and the autism tbh. Ds had three older siblings who made allowances for him, ran round after him and generally let him have his own way.
Suddenly there was someone there who had to come before him, who didn't make allowances and who never took on board the "I am ignoring you" signs and forced ds to interact.
They absolutely adore one another ds can be tolerant, gentle and caring with dd when he can't with anyone else and dd can make allowances for ds even if she prefers not to for anyone else and they share something special between them that benefits them both.

makemineaquadruple Wed 28-Sep-11 12:48:56

I have to say that this is a dilema that's been troubling me for a while now. I have a 4.10 yr old dd with possible asd and i've always wanted 2 children. I think we would have gone ahead and tried for another if it weren't for the fact that I know autism is incredibly genetic and although dd is the most precious being in our lives, god is it tough!!! And also dd would probably be considered to have mild asd so we sometimes feel should we just quit whilst we're "ahead" iyswim. I know she would love a brother or sister and is baby crackers! I just feel like I would be panicing through the whole pregnancy and not to a normal degree. I'd be panicing that I was panicing if that makes sense. I'd worry that I would be passing stress to that baby, which i'm pretty sure I did with ddsad

I understand i've not really offered advice here, just thought i'd tell my story.

It's a tricky question when you have a child with no sn, but when you have one with genetic sn you really have to consider whether or not you'd cope if that same(or worse) would happen again. I know a lot of people would say you can't live your life like that. You'd never do anything etc, but it's certainly worth baring in mind I think.

MangoMonster Wed 28-Sep-11 19:01:47

Thanks for all your advice everyone smile. Still confused though! Guess I will keep mulling it over until something makes sense. It's really a case of the fact I think a sibling would be great for ds, but I don't know if I could go through this all again and I don't want to put another child through it either, especially the visual issue if that could be genetic. Plus, can we afford it and will I ever be able to work in the mid future. The career I had before ds has already moved on... My gut instinct is no, but wonder if that's selfish on ds and dp. Dp really wants another dc. Guess only time will tell. It's been great to hear others reasoning though. thanks

timsmama Wed 28-Sep-11 19:22:38

we have 21 months between ds1 and ds2, and the same between ds2 and ds3. ds1 has AS. By the time we had the dx, ds1 was 3.75yrs, and ds3 was 3months old - thus too late to turn back. I have said to a few people (who dont have sn children and usually think I sound horrible) that I dont think we would have had ds3 had we known the dx earlier.

BUT, having such small age gaps does have its advantages. Ds1 and 2 do fight A LOT, especially now that ds2 has started to stand up for himself. But ds1 learns so much from his siblings and does always have playmates who will stand by him no matter how he behaves. That alone puts my mind at ease when I think about ds1s future. He might have difficulties making and keeping friends, but at least he will always have 2 brothers there for him.

Spiraling Wed 28-Sep-11 23:58:02

33 month gap, ds1 hfa ds2 NT, best thing ever. This summer after not a good start they get on amazingly (still lots of battles though) but they clearly love each other. Ds2 is amazingly patience with ds1 and great at sharing. and as ds1 behind about a year and seemingly ds2 ahead they get on well with play (as long as ds1 the boss, fine for now!) so will be interesting to see how it develops. But i think it's taught ds1 atlot and lovely to see them together.

decided ds1 was asd just as i got pregant, so a little concerned. Ds struggles with friend but as tims says he has his brother.

tabulahrasa Thu 29-Sep-11 09:27:01

Well I didn't know DS had AS when I had DD, but there's a 4 year gap between them just because there is, lol.

It's a nice gap actually, he was old enough to find a baby interesting rather than a competitor and she adored him when she was little in that way that toddlers do with older children and he loved having a little person who did everything he said, rofl.

Like others have said it was good having him at nursery and then school so I got time with just DD.

It's also as they've got older meant that DD didn't notice the issues DS had, well, that it wasn't a problem more, because she was so much younger than him, the fact that his social and emotional development was behind didn't cause an issue - because it was more at her level anyway. Also, by the time she was catching up with him academically he was at a different school as she's still in primary, so it stopped her being able to compare work.

Tiggles Thu 29-Sep-11 21:55:28

DS1 (AS) is 9, DS2(about to be assessed for HFA) is nearly 5 and DS3 (fairly certain is NT although does have lots of obsessions) is just 3.

I found the 4 year age gap between DS1 and DS2 very hard, mainly I think because until DS1 started school I just saw him as highly intelligent and quirky. When he started school things went pear shaped very quickly. The school put it down to him having a baby brother which didn't help as it blatantly wasn't the issue. At a year DS2 was showing all the classic pointers of autism and I wanted to bury my head in the sand completely.

The almost 2 year gap between DS2 and 3 has been interesting. DS2 still lashes out very quickly if things don't go his way and DS3 is often on the receiving end. BUT, because since DS3 could roll and get in the way of DS2s train tracks etc DS2 has had to learn to share etc. It is the odd (occasional) random acts of kindness that DS2 does for DS3 that make me doubt that DS2 has ASD, however I don't think he would show the kind side of his nature if DS3 hadn't been there and me spending so long teaching him how to behave, iyswim.

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