Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The other shoe drops...

I've been awfully quiet of late.  Perhaps for some of you that's a good thing.

For many parents, once an autism diagnosis is given they have to ask themselves a very difficult question:  should we have more children?  This is a tough question to answer.  The reason why it's asked is because autism has a strong genetic basis, and based on recent research the risk of having another affected child is 25%.  Some parents might be willing to play these odds... a 75% win rate is pretty good, after all.

Having unaffected siblings is attractive for so many reasons.  As a parent, you have a special needs child but you also have typical children, which can somewhat dampen the heartache of having a child with autism.  Selfishly, this means you can experience having a typical parent-child relationship.  Some days, you can leave your special needs child at home and experience life as a "typical family" (I'm sorry if this offends some of you, but I am writing how I feel and this is the truth.)

Although I would never choose to expect or burden T with taking care of A when we die, I would hope that he would love her enough to do so.  So in that way, having a typical sibling is very comforting.

Except he isn't.

We have been concerned with T for several months now, on and off.  He has always lined up his toys, but his social communication was becoming more and more inappropriate.  He never greeted us, didn't use "mommy and daddy" without prompting, and had a lot of delayed echolalia.  Add in his difficulty with change, transition and insistence on sameness, and blammo, you have... autism.  Again.

Luckily, he is mild and will be getting the "PDD-NOS" designation.  He is fully verbal and has some great social skills.  He's a great kid and I don't love him any less, but I grieve for him because I know his life will be harder... and for us too. 

I thought this would be easier than the first time around, but it's not.  I'm still angry.  I'm still sad.  But it is what it is.

"Happiness can only exist in acceptance."
   - George Orwell