New research shows a correlation between families that have a child with autism and the decision to not have more children. The study results, which were published in the most recent issue of JAMA Psychiatry, show that “Parents whose first child had autism were about one-third less likely to have a second child than parents in the control group, the study found, while parents who had a later-born child with autism were equally less likely to have more children.” (Source: HealthDay.com)
The decision to forego future children may be based on many different reasons including concerns that subsequent children will also have an autism spectrum disorder as well as the cost and time commitment it takes to raise even one child with autism.
If you’re new to The Autism Education Site then you may not know that both of my children have autism spectrum diagnoses. My daughter was diagnosed with classical autism (DSM-IV 299.00) in 2003 on the day before her third birthday. Learning more about autism caused us to look at some of my son’s quirks from a more clinical perspective. He was subsequently diagnosed with PDD-NOS (DSM-IV 299.80).
By the time my youngest was diagnosed, we had already decided that our family was complete with two children. Had we been on the fence, though, I do believe that the autism diagnoses would have led us to the same decision – no more kids. At that point we’d hit the genetic lottery twice, I wouldn’t have been in the mood to gamble on a third child.
Thankfully my children have benefitted tremendously from those early years of intense therapy. My daughter is subclinical and my son only needs a marginal level of support from staffers at the junior high school he attends. The time and financial burden is less of an issue, now, but when they were young we had no clue what the future held.
If you have a young child with autism, has the diagnosis impacted your decision to have future children?
Photo: Frank de Kleine/Flickr