Having a second kid after one with ASD?

Kiddo’s genetic test results are back.  A DNA microarray showed no copy number variation (CNV) abnormalities, meaning she does not have additions or deletions of large chunks of DNA in her genes.  The test for Fragile-X also came back negative.  However, there are other types of mutations, for example point mutations of a single nucleotide, that would be missed by these tests.  After all, the heritability of Autism Spectrum Disorder is known to be over 70%, whereas these genetic tests only show abnormalities in less than 20% of people with ASD.

These tests, along with the fact that kiddo is over 2 years old now, have me thinking about adding another child to our family.  We currently only have the one.  We always planned on at least two children, and with the ASD diagnosis, I think it’s particularly important that kiddo have a sibling for socialization reasons.  But, my concerns relating to having another child are twofold: (1) Will he/she have ASD? and (2) Where will we find the time?!

Regarding (1), it’s not that I particularly mind having another child with ASD.  I love our first kiddo to pieces, partly because she is different and has her own way of doing things.  But kids with ASD require extra support, and in particular extra time (so see discussion of (2) below).  Also, our first kiddo’s ASD is “high-functioning” and in fact it seems she may be really smart!  What if our second kid has low functioning ASD?  In that case the new sibling may not help in socializing the first kiddo, and may require even more support than she does.  Since the genetic tests kiddo #1 had turned up nothing, we have no information on what the odds of having another ASD kid are (except for the general statistic that says the sibling concordance rate for ASD is 20%).

Regarding (2), our lives are already packed full with very little free time (see my previous post about therapy at home).  And my professional life is only going to get more busy as I approach tenure.  It’s hard to imagine how a new baby would fit into the picture.  I find myself questioning whether a second kid is really a selfish thing to do, since the competing interests of both kids may mean both have some needs neglected.

Our vague plan is to wait another 2-3 years.  At that time kiddo #1 will be 4-5 years old and entering kindergarten.  Hopefully she will need less therapeutic supports by then, allowing us to focus more attention on a new baby.  The downsides of waiting are of course a larger age gap means they will socialize together less, and kiddo #1 may feel more jealous of the baby after being an only child for so long.

I would love some comments from other people about sibling dynamics in their families with ASD.  What worked?  What didn’t?  Were the parents spread too thin?


One thought on “Having a second kid after one with ASD?

  1. Great questions! I have 3 kiddos. My middle is dx’d with ASD and requires a high level of support, with siblings 7 yrs older & 2.5 yrs younger.
    Some positives:
    Without a doubt, my NT kids have had to grow up a little faster because they take on more responsibility. This has caused them to grow to be more capable & confident in decision-making than their peers. They are also able to assess situations as a whole and point out dangers or concerns.They are also strongly compassionate & loving children. I attribute this all to growing up with a sibling with ASD. My child with ASD loves his siblings and having them constantly around and including him when they can has helped him grow in ways I don’t think he would have otherwise.
    Some difficulties:
    Stress level in the house is higher than other peoples. This does affect all of the children. We have tried to help them develop ways to “decompress” & step back from it all.
    My hubs & I are pretty stretched and have had to really choose what our main priorities are because we cannot do it all. Time together as a couple is at a premium and we look at each moment as a gift.We try not to waste them. In the early days, when we saw that ASD was taking over all of our time & energy, we stepped back and assessed the situation. We realized that we needed to make each child a priority, spend time with them individually, and support them in their individual activities. And we needed to let go of the idea that we could do all we ever dreamed of doing for/with each child. There isn’t enough of my hubs & I to go around. So we do what we can & trust that God can & will take care of the rest.
    Most of the time, my hubs & I are in a constant whirlwind of just trying to keep up, but it is just a season. It is so much easier today than it was 10 years ago, so it does get better! We’ve learned to accept that the house will never be as clean or organized as we wish…and that it’s okay! And there are days when I feel that a year’s vacation would not be sufficient for me to relax. But I am so thankful for all that I have with my husband & children. I feel like our relationships are stronger than most simply because we have had to work at being together as a family & supporting each other & facing the challenges together.

    Hope that helps! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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