How many beautiful lives will go unlived due to Autism studies?

The latest Autism Study of the Month is about the likelihood of a younger sibling having Autism when there is already a child in the family with Autism.

I had already discussed how important it is to make family decisions with your heart, not your fears… and how there is always some risk no matter what, even for your first child.

But seeing Google News explode with story after story about it… approx 700 at the time of this writing… I have a new concern.

No FearSpreading Information or Paranoia

At 700 articles, I have to wonder just what message it is that is being sent.

Most studies are negative in nature, focusing on what may be increasing the risks of Autism, but in this case, it’s outright telling people that their next born child will likely be Autistic.

With headlines such as “Parents with one autistic child more likely to have another”, is it really any wonder what the message is?

These studies are important because it brings experts a little step closer to finding real answers but in the general public and in the media, it’s a tool for fear and paranoia.

How many parents will these 700 articles reach?
How many of those parents will make a conscious decision to not have another child based on this study?
How many parents will have their family forever impacted by fear?

The Result of Fear

So you’ve decided to cut your family short for fear of having a child with Autism… let’s discuss:

  • The study found an 18.7% chance of having a child with Autism when you already have a child with Autism. That means that you have an 81.3% chance of having a child without Autism.
  • Is the child you already have beautiful? Amazing? Wonderful? Your next child will be as well.
  • If you only have one child, will you be improving that child’s life or robbing them of a loved one that they can love, cherish, grow with, protect and depend on?
  • Would your child have had the potential to be brilliant? A leader? Inspirational? An artist? A parent?

Lost Potential

I’m not trying to tell you that you have to have another child. If you were already debating/discussing it prior to this or other studies, that’s perfectly understandable. My wife and I did the same thing.

But basing these decisions on the fears created by studies in the news saddens me.

I can’t help but think of the lives that will never be lived, due to fear. The people that could have been presidents, doctors, teachers, parents or even, if they did turn out to have Autism, would have been beautiful people regardless of the titles they could or could not obtain.

My child with Autism is wonderful, he’s amazing! Why would I choose to not have another child when I have such a beautiful life growing before my eyes?

Children, all children, with or without Autism, have limitless potential. Even those that are non-verbal can sometimes surprise you. You just never know what can happen.

Let’s Talk Odds

Since we’re discussing odds, let’s look at some other odds for you and your children:

  • Odds of being the victim of serious crime in your lifetime: 20 to 1
  • Odds of having your identity stolen: 200 to 1
  • Odds of dating a millionaire: 215 to 1
  • Odds of finding out your child is a genius: 250 to 1
  • Odds of being considered possessed by Satan: 7,000 to 1
  • Odds of becoming a pro athlete: 22,000 to 1
  • Odds of winning an Academy Award: 11,500 to 1
  • Odds of becoming president: 10,000,000 to 1

These are some great reasons to be living in fear, to be living a goal, to be optimistic, to beĀ pessimisticĀ and simply… to be alive.

You can’t beat the odds every time, you won’t be a victim of the odds every time either.

The point is to live your life, to enjoy your life and to do with your life what you can while you can.

Don’t snuff out the potential of your children before they ever even have the opportunity to be conceived.

If you want another child, if you want to fill your family, if you want our child to have a younger sibling… do it.

Do not replace potential with fear.

About Stuart Duncan

My name is Stuart Duncan, creator of My oldest son (Cameron) has Autism while my younger son (Tyler) does not. I am a work from home web developer with a background in radio. I do my very best to stay educated and do what ever is necessary to ensure my children have the tools they need to thrive. I share my stories and experiences in an effort to further grow and strengthen the online Autism community and to promote Autism Understanding and Acceptance.

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6 Responses to How many beautiful lives will go unlived due to Autism studies?

  1. Angel G August 17, 2011 at 11:53 am #

    Our second child had Spina Bifida. We were told that there was a chance that it could happen again (something like 10%). We could have stopped trying to have children, but then we would have lost out on two incredibly adorable, loveable sons who show me every day that life is beautiful.

    We had children because we wanted to have children. I wouldn’t pass that up for anything in the world. If there was a ‘do over’ button, I wouldn’t use it.

  2. Debbie K. August 17, 2011 at 12:04 pm #

    I was just telling my son this morning that the things we worry about in life rarely ever happen. At best, worry prepares us for the “what ifs” in our lives.

    Unfortunately, sensational headlines sell papers and help viewers “stay tuned” thru the commercials. Whatever the news, the media is guaranteed to promote the most sensational aspect. It’s the world we live in.

  3. Naomi August 17, 2011 at 11:02 pm #

    Barry Prizant told me 10 years ago that according to Ivar Lovaas “the most important thing you can give your autistic child is a sibling.” It was so reassuring.

  4. --- August 18, 2011 at 1:40 am #

    Great insights. That being said, my son has autism, his sister has tourette’s. Every cousin on their father’s side has some form of neurological issues ie tics, stims, hypotonia, etc…

    I’m all for rolling the dice, but in our case it is more like choosing to give a child a disability.

    I’m still not 100% certain that we won’t have any more. I still would love to have one more. We are however looking in to adoption and sperm donors if we go that route.

    It is still by no means a guarantee of a “healthy” “normal” kid, but we aren’t expecting that either. We are however keenly aware of OUR personal genetic risks and need to take that in to consideration. Study or no study genetics are what they are and living with a life long disability is what it is. I however am leery to burden another child with a life long struggle simply for my desire to have a larger family.

  5. Julie January 9, 2014 at 6:46 pm #

    I have to tell you I admire you for posting this and for seeing things in a different light. My son is 2 years old and has been dx with “mild” autism. We saw a world renowned expert and she said it was very borderline. In the past few months we have his ABA therapists telling us they don’t think he has autism, but maybe spd or Aspergers ( which is now considered autism anyway due to DSM-V). We have suffered a lot throughout all of this, as I’m sure you have. We wanted at least one more child but we are really scared out next child might have an even more severe case of autism. You are right that we would love our potential child just the same and we would think the world of them; that is not a concern. Our biggest concern is about their future. Good careers don’t come easy for people with autism or even pdd-nos. employers don’t want to hire them due to poor/awkward social skills. There have been many news articles written about this issue. Who will care for our children when we are gone if they can’t support themselves? I feel like I need to make sure I have enough money in the bank to support my child for the rest of his life, if he does indeed end up having autism–what’s the alternative? Having him institutionalized? So, the possibility of having more children on the spectrum is frightening–how are we supposed to make sure he is taken care of for the rest of his life?
    What are your thoughts on this? You seem like an enlightened person, so I would appreciate hearing from you.

    • Stuart Duncan January 9, 2014 at 8:29 pm #

      These are all valid concerns but they were valid concerns with your first child too. You just hadn’t considered them because you didn’t already have a child with autism. But there’s always a risk of something. I know one couple that had a healthy child, then a child with half a heart that died within days and then another healthy child after.
      Was there any way to foresee it? Was there a chance the 3rd person never would have existed if their parents decided not to take the risk again?

      As for the future, who knows? I mean, most people don’t have a very positive outlook for the future as it is in terms of the middle and upper classes or for how anything is being funded. I can’t help but wonder how many people never have children at all because they “would not bring a child into the world the way it is now.”

      But consider this, maybe the person that brings about world peace one day is someone with Down Syndrome? Or the one that solves faster than light travel is someone with autism? Or… well, you get the idea.

      That’s the funny thing about the future though. It’s so very unpredictable at even the best of times. Can something bad happen? Perhaps. But can something wonderful happen? It’s just as likely.

      Or maybe they’ll go on to have a perfectly normal life making good friends, having good times and being a good person.

      The only time we’ll never know is if there never is a child in the first place. No child… no future.

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