The CDC recently released their latest findings which state that autism is now found in 1 out of 88 children in the United States. This can be further divided into boys (1 in 54) and girls (1 in 252).
The risks increases if you already have a child with autism. That is to say, if you have one child with autism, the chances of your next child also having autism is 19%. If you have two children with autism, the risk of having another is 32%. This presents some big concerns for people that are considering having children…or more children.
Now that I’ve told you all of that, I want you forget you ever heard it.
Ever Lasting Risks
Whether or not there really are more cases of autism now than ever before (yes, it is open to some debate), the fact of the matter is that there have always been risks with having children. Some children are still born, some have cancer, some have down syndrome, some have autism…the truth is, tragically, that there is quite the long list of very unfortunate risks in having children. This is all starting to sound quite depressing but the truth is, that’s reality. There’s always been risk. There always will be risk. There’s also risk when you cross the street, fly in a plane, meet someone new, try something new, fall in love…you get the idea. Sometimes, the biggest risks bring about the biggest rewards.
The Risks are Worth It
Creating a new life is a big responsibility, whether they are special needs or not. It’s huge. And yes, there are risks. But ultimately, you can’t decide to create or not create life based on the risks. You create a new life because it’s the right thing to do. Because there’s a life to be made, between you and the one you love. To be with the little ones you’ve already created. To love and be loved. I mean, think about it…how many beautiful, wonderful souls has the world lost before they were even given the chance to be…because of people who were too afraid of the numbers to even try?
I’m not dismissing the fact that raising an autistic child into and through adult-hood can cost a lot, more than a lot, and can be a huge burden on a family. This is very true and a part of the risk. Still though, even if that was to happen, that doesn’t make the soul any less beautiful. That doesn’t make the person any less wonderful.
Let’s look at the flip side of these risks…Einstein was widely regarded to have autism. Same with Mozart, Tesla, Newton and more. The guy who holds the world record for remembering Pi to 25,000 places (Daniel Tammet), he has autism. The guy who can draw entire cities completely in full detail just from a 45 minute helicopter ride over it (Stephen Wiltshire), he has autism. The point is, risks or no risks, special needs or not, strengths or weaknesses…a life is beautiful, wonderful and priceless.
The Only Measure for Decision
There is only really one way to know whether or not you should have a child or another child and that is to decide how much more room in your heart you have to love that child. Money, time…even special needs, these things will be a struggle for any parent. Obviously it will be to varying degrees but it’s all a matter of perspective. One person who makes $1,000/month can struggle with money just as much as someone who makes $1,000,000/month. The same goes for time. You either learn time management or you don’t.
When my first child was diagnosed with autism, my wife and I still wanted a second child. We always new we’d have a family of four. We always knew that we didn’t want to have an “only child.” No, we didn’t dismiss the risks. We did consider the additional costs, additional struggles that having a second autistic child could have had. But it didn’t make the decision for us. To think about it, it is far more saddening to think of life without my second little boy than it is to think of what it would be like if he had autism, or any other special needs.
Both of my boys, with and without autism, are so beautiful and have such wonderful souls. The world would be missing something amazing if they were never born and we would be missing a lot of love in our lives. If the love is there, you will find a way to make the money, time, and struggles work.