I Have A Four-Year-Old Son With Autism. Is It Irresponsible For Us To Consider Having Another Child?

Question: I have a four-year-old son with autism. Is it irresponsible for us to consider having another child?

Answer: The decision to have another child is, of course, a personal decision and many factors would contribute to making that decision.

What we do know, is that if you have a child on the autism spectrum your likelihood of having a second child also with autism spectrum disorder is somewhere between seven and 10 percent.

In addition, your second may look nothing like your first child. For example, your first child may be high-functioning, intense, rigid, and sensorily defensive, and your second child may be more severely involved, non-verbal, aggressive and sensory-seeking. That would be a challenge of course for any family. We do have families who have multiple children on the autism spectrum, and what I've found is that parents often say that they have made sacrifices with their careers, financial or living situations which they didn't anticipate. It might be helpful to obtain a consultation with a geneticist, because there are newer tests available now, such as the microarray, which might provide you more detailed information which is specific to your family.

While I would never say that it would be irresponsible to have a second child, I do think it would be important to obtain as much information as possible and consider all potential outcomes before you make this momentous decision for your family.