parenting strategies for autism

Parenting Strategies for Autism Can Be… Well… a Lot, Right?

There are so many techniques and supports to remember when raising a child on the spectrum. Parenting strategies for autism are not only dependent on how receptive your child is generally, but also how well that strategy will work in a given situation. We parents have to keep our head on a swivel. Be nimble. Be flexible. Now, imagine having to apply those strategies to another child. What about two more? 

After my experience with Kyle, my first child living with autism, the thought of having another child with autism scared me. Yet, my wife and I would love to have another child.

But, Why am I Scared? How Likely is it That a Parent Could Have Another Child with Autism?

As I’ve learned, the answer to that depends on several factors. The first factor to consider is the results of genetic testing. Genetic testing can give an idea of how predisposed parents are to having multiple children with ASD, but for now there is no causal relationship between an exact gene and the presence, or prevalence, of ASD in a family. Current genetic testing can only predict ASD for about 15% of the children living with ASD.

But, what I have also learned is that studies have show that couples with one autistic child have a 10-20% greater risk of having a second child with autism.

Also, if the child is a boy, he is even more likely to have ASD (2-3times). And that’s not all; do you know second-born children with ASD are generally severely affected than the first? That’s scary.

Why Is It Scary?

Firstly, my wife and I are worried about how we would manage. As much as we love our son, it takes a lot of time and effort to properly care and support him. How do we manage the needs of another autistic child? Would our resources (energy and finances) even be enough for the two of them?

Secondly, there is a feeling of guilt too. To say this may make you bristle (heck, it makes me bristle too). Why bring another child to this world knowing well beforehand that she/he might struggle socially, physically, and psychologically? We love our children regardless, but we have to be honest here about what us parents go through, think about, and worry about.

Thirdly, children are not the same. They have varied needs and complexes. And what does that imply? We have to devise new parenting strategies for autism for the new child too.

This is all… a lot.

With All These Doubts, is it Advisable to Still Go Ahead? Should Parents Feel Scared That Their Second Child May Have Autism?

There is good news. Doctors say having a child with autism is more like a genetic lottery. And when you look at it, the chance of having a neuro-typical child is 80-90%. So do we really need to worry?

My wife and I say, no. We will expand our family and love our children. It may mean more work. Heck, it will be more work whether our 2nd child has autism or is neuro-typical. We’ll make it work and, if necessary, learn new parenting strategies for autism.

In the end, the decision is yours.


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External Resources

Mayo Clinic

Genetics Home Reference – NIH

Support program: Autism Sibling Support Initiative

Support program: Sibling Support Project

Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council

Maryland Early Intervention and Special Education Services

Administration for Community Living

Pathfinders for Autism

Disability Scoop

Maryland Preschool Special Education

Maryland Department of Education Division of Early Childhood