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Having a second child when you have one with extra needs

(30 Posts)
henryhsmum Sun 28-Jul-13 10:07:25


I want to ask how those of you that have one child with extra needs find having a second child? My DS has severe ADHD and autism. Our plan hd always been 2 children but his needs have made us re-think that. Also, I had 2 grand mal seizures after his birth (no history of epilepsy before or since) and that was so traumatic that it puts me off.

My DS likes other children and he has an older step brother and stepsister who he adores. My gut instinct is that he would cope with a younger sibling fine, its more whether I would cope!

I woud be interested to hear what others experiences are and if you have a child with ADHD or autism are your other children affected too? In my DS's case, there is no genetic history of ADHD and I believe his traumatic birth had a lot to do with it but who knows!

Pagwatch Sun 28-Jul-13 10:11:14

Ds1 is nt. ds2 has severe ASD.
We went on to have DD when ds1 was 10 and ds2 was 6

We had always planned to have three in an ideal world.
DD is 10 now.
The siblings are affected of course but, in my opinion, that is a good thing as well as a bad thing.
Tbh having DD was the best decision we ever made.

henryhsmum Sun 28-Jul-13 10:16:39

That is reassuring to know re your experiences with DD. When I say affected, I meant more do they have ADHD/ASD? For me I find the ADHD hardest to cope with, he is the 100 mph child! Even his psychiatrist is baffled by what to do with him, his meds help a lot but when they wear off he is almost impossible to control.

Pagwatch Sun 28-Jul-13 10:21:28

Ah, I see. Sorry.

No DD is NT. we thought DS2s issues were triggered so we were fairly comfortable that any future baby would find life easier/not ave the same issues to deal with as DS2 and so it turned out.

Tbh, amidst lots of advice to get genetic counselling, we realised the only question we had to be able to answer was 'if this child has the same issues, could we cope'.
It doesnt matter what the chances are. It only matters whether the least favourable outcome would be beyond your ability to manage and hold the family together.
Once the answer to that was yes we decided to try.

henryhsmum Sun 28-Jul-13 10:37:34

I think I could manage one with additional needs again, it's more that added to the seizures I had could make it very difficult

jocook Sun 28-Jul-13 22:20:16

We have just gone/going through this decision. DD is now 4.5 and was diagnosed ASD in jan, just before her 4th birthday. We were actually trying for DC 2 when they started talking about what was causing the development delay she was obviously suffering so it went on hold and has now been scrapped.
It has broke my heart the thought of not having another child but I know 100% i would not cope with a 2nd SN child and possibly not with a NT!!
On days when im struggling it reinforces we have made the right decision and on good days I hold her tight and think, this is more than enough!!!! : )
For the record though DH would have another tomorrow!

DayBurner Mon 29-Jul-13 10:52:32


This is something we're also going through. My 3.4 year old has Asperger's and is hard work but wonderful. We have always wanted 2 children and have put off trying due to the stresses and worries of life with DS, but despite many sleepless nights pondering the whole issue, we decided to go for it. I became pregnant after several months (am no spring chicken!) but had an early MC.

This threw me even more as I didn't dare get too excited about the PG as have had previous MC, but when it didn't work out I almost felt a tiny bit of relief that the worry was over, followed by overwhelming guilt at that relief, small as it was.

We have no local family or anyone who can help when we have a bad night etc. so I do worry we would be taking on too much if it were to work out for us again. I worry that DS wouldn't cope well with a sibling (he's jealous of any attention I give other children) and that we should be satisfied with the gorgeous little boy we have.

However, I also worry that we'll regret it if we don't have (or at least try for) another one, I think that it would be good for DS socially to have a sibling, and he will be off to school by the time another came along, which would possibly make things easier during the day, unless he can't cope AARRGGGHHH!!!

You see? It's not at all straightforward.

And all this is without the possibility of the second child having SN. Or the fact I seem to spend my life at the GPs these days.

I guess I've typed this essay to show you that you're not alone in this situation, but I have no answers for either of us! confused.

Good luck, whatever you decide!

AngP2585 Mon 29-Jul-13 11:01:02

I am in the same situation, I would really love to have another child and hoping to go through the PGD process.
I do worry about the impact it will have on me having another as I am stressed out with my son so much his behaviour can be very difficult. I think that if you have a normal healthy child it could be a good thing. My main thinking is it would be good for my son as he would have someone to look out for him when we are not there anymore. I think also it would be good for them to have another sibling to learn from.

ArthurPewty Mon 29-Jul-13 11:03:45

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

dontaskmenow Mon 29-Jul-13 11:21:45

I have a DS with autism, ADHD and dyspraxia and we've made a firm decision not to have any more as he's so demanding that we couldn't cope with another, whether another child was NT or had the same issues. I know a lot of families with dc on the spectrum and all of them have at least one other family member affected - either another child (sometimes mildly, so they don't have a dx and don't show up in statistics), or a parent or other close relative.

DS is at secondary school now and tbh it wasn't the managing his autism/ADHD that finally decided it; it was the years I spent fighting for provision via tribunal and having him out of school that caused so much stress that I didn't want to go through again. And it showed me that DS's needs are high enough that I definitely wouldn't be able to give him the same attention (and financial support for an advocate/specialist reports) if I had another. There are a lot of things that are relatively easier for us compared to many families of dc with autism (we can go on holidays and days out, and DS is now in an independent special school) - simply because we can give DS more flexibility and I'm not juggling the needs of a younger child. It wouldn't be fair to him or me to change that.

vjg13 Mon 29-Jul-13 11:42:45

I think Pagwatch hit the nail on the head when she said "if this child has the same issues, could we cope?"

My older daughter has GDD and severe learning difficulties with no cause identified. We did have genetic studies which did not identify anything. With my second pregnancy I didn't have any screening tests and just hoped for the best. I was convinced she would be a mark 2 of my older daughter and I was very surprised when she looked very different and had no additional needs. Obviously, in a good way but I think in my head I was very prepared. It has been a great decision for my family and they generally have a good relationship.

Good luck with what you decide, it is more complicated with your own health to consider.

MovingForward0719 Mon 29-Jul-13 13:20:34

in my case, age was the deciding factor, ie my age. We were considering a third child but I was in my early 40s which was a concern When the penny dropped that my ds2 had autism, that decided it. I think it would be a different story if I had been 10 years younger, I would have risked it. But for me the thought of going through all the waiting to see, I would be mid to late 40s by the time we knew and I don't think I could take the devastation and fear. I've adapted with my son, but I think it would finish me off if it happened again.

Thereonthestair Mon 29-Jul-13 13:52:35

My DS has cp, and was prem. He is 3,6 at the moment and I have spent 18 months not deciding. If another one was NT I think I would go for it. If another one had CP like DS I would go for it (I know what to do now) but if another one had more severe CP I would have to give up work and that would not be good for any of us. I believe the risk of another prem is 20% and then the risk if I had another prem would be 6-9% of CP again. TBH the risks frighten me, and that has meant we can't decide even though I do know we'd cope. It would be good for DS to have a sibling though, and I would love another. DH less so and I am rapidly pushing 40 so I suspect DS is an only.

ohnoalfie Mon 29-Jul-13 14:35:07

I had DD2 when DD1 was seven, DD1 has HF ASD. I could have told you before I had her all the reasons why I wouldn't have a second, (I needed to dedicate all my attention to DD1 etc etc.) Anyway, she was our surprise baby and DD2 is now nearly two and it has totally changed the dynamic of our family. It has been difficult at times for DD1 but I always tell her how lucky she is to have a little sister and from my point of view and I hope this doesn't sound selfish, having her has healed some of the pain I feel. Don't get me wrong, there are times when I feel really overwhelmed.

When she was first born, I really worried that she would be on the spectrum too but the signs are she seems to be developing in a typical way. Seeing them play together is the most amazing thing and having each other will teach them both incredibly valuable lessons.

I also think about the future too and whilst I wouldn't put pressure on DD2, I hope she is there for her sister when me and DH aren't around.

In my experience the positives definitely outweigh the negatives. Good luck with whatever you decide.

happyreindeer Mon 29-Jul-13 14:48:49

I am going to be honest here. I have 2 sons ds 1is 21 nt .Ds2 is 20 he has severe autism and ocd etc. Ds1 has always always had to accomadate ds1 challeging behaviour and has admitted getting really fed up at times. We have power of attorney over ds2 and made it clear that ds1 does not want to be involved in making life changing decisions when we are both gone. Ds1 swears he will never have children. He loves his brother but he annoys the hell out of him.Can i just add if it was not for ds2 needing both of us that is dh and I we would have divorced years ago. It is all consuming.

ouryve Mon 29-Jul-13 15:46:37

DS1 wasn't diagnosed with ASD until after DS2 was born. DS2 was diagnosed a year later and DS1 now has an ADHD diagnosis, too.

They fight like cat and dog sad

Crawling Mon 29-Jul-13 16:15:45

I have 3 dc one is under assessment for AS the other has classic autism and the 3rd has a speech delay. I don't regret it at all. They get on brilliantly and having a younger sibling has helped dd1 to open up 8n ways I never thought possible.

henryhsmum Tue 30-Jul-13 10:12:33

It seems there is no straightforward answer! I would love to have another DC especially if it was a girl but DS is such hard work! The consultants have told me the ADHD often improves after adolescence, still another 10 years to go then! I think his ADHD was contributed to by his birth , I found a very interesting paediatric paper from the US that links ADHD to birth trauma and lack of oxygen, to the extent that in the US it is now being used to pursue compensation claims. I would like to think that some of the problems DS had could be mitigated by a planned C section but I know there are no guarantees. It is also the seizures that I had with no history of them before or since that worry me about having a 2nd child.

Longsufferingmum2 Tue 30-Jul-13 17:18:05

DD is NT but her younger brother is ASD. Therefore we are not having another as there is a risk we'd have another special needs child. It would split up DH and I and DD has enough to cope with. I love my son but...

Want1morechild Tue 30-Jul-13 18:36:03

I couldn't read this without posting my experience as I could have written your post this time last year. I have 2 children with autism and associated learning difficulties. I love my children so much but our life can be very challenging as they are both severely affected by their autism. To be honest, After my first DS I never thought it could happen again but it did and going through the assessment and diagnosis of my 2 nd child was the lowest period of my life. We can now see there is a genetic link in my DH side of family with his own DB, DN + older members of family on the spectrum to varying degrees.

We have always wanted lots of children and were so heartbroken at the thought of not having any more. We didn't feel we could take the risk of having a child even more severely affected. My husband suggested we try for another child using a sperm donor as this way we would at least be giving our child to be the very best chance at a typical development. I was very unsure at the start and we have had counselling, did a lot of research etc. before we decided to go ahead. I appreciate this is not something everyone would do and I would never have thought about this if my DH had not been so keen. He has seen so much of autism in his own family and wants to do anything he can to minimise the risk.

And yes, we have thought about the fact that our next child could have a different disability etc. but at least we know our odds are now the same as everyone else and we will love whatever child we get. I would just love the chance to experience bringing up a typical child and all the things we missed out on. We have chosen a donor similar to my DH and are due our first IUI next month. The whole process, once we were sure about it, has been unsurprisingly straight forward.

eatyourveg Tue 30-Jul-13 18:59:16

ds1 NT ds2 severe asd & mld went on to have ds3 who is also asd but high functioning. As Pagwatch says its the best decision we ever made. Bloody hard work for the first few years when there were 3 of them under 5 but well well worth it. I wanted to have more children but it wouldn't have been a sensible thing to do especially as I developed epilepsy when ds3 was 6 months old

TheAccidentalExhibitionist Tue 30-Jul-13 19:16:51

Such fascinating stories here, its been really therapeutic to read.

We have one DS who has ASD and ADHD. I spent six years thinking I couldn't possibly cope with another.
As he got older though I realised he had very little family around him, especially as we live abroad. My DH felt that the family as incomplete and I felt that it would be good for my DS to have a sibling for company now and for the future.

Unfortunately it hasn't been as simple as that, 5 years of trying, 5 MC and now apparent infertility. It's been a lot for my DS to go through although I'm not sure how much he's understood or cared really.

I occasionally ask myself if we could I cope with two children on the spectrum but TBH the chance of us having another child seems so remote now that it doesn't seem such an important question.

cansu Tue 30-Jul-13 20:51:53

This was v difficult. I really wanted another dc and I found myself pregnant when ds was being diagnosed with ASD. dp wanted me to consider a termination but I couldnt and even though dd is also autistic I dont regret her at all. She is lovely, affectionate and of course maddeningly autistic but I guess I am more experienced and prepared and I think I have done a better job second time around!

lisad123everybodydancenow Wed 31-Jul-13 08:30:37

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

aniseed Sat 24-Aug-13 21:03:36

We have a ds and dd and have a third on the way. We are waiting for a confirmed diagnosis of ASD for Ds - he is 7. DD is NT. It is really hard sometimes as Ds craves all of our attention and they argue like mad. However, Dd has taught Ds how to play imaginatively and how to share etc. I think she has been really good for him. I also imagine (no pressure) that she will be able to be a 'friend' to him when they are adults. We have a third on the way and we are worried that the child (esp if it is a boy) maybe have problems. It was a difficult decision and we had to wait until Ds was slightly easier to manage. He is very excited about having a new brother or sister. We have asked ourselves if we could cope with another child with difficulties. I'm not sure whether we are doing the right thing and it is scary. However, I feel I would regret more not having another. I have had to consider everyone's needs and I hope that we are making the right decision. Ds kisses my bump everyday.

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