Recurrence Risk for ASD Siblings

There are far more risks to every childbirth than just Autism. There’s the chance of a still birth, cancer, down syndrome and a whole host of other disorders, illnesses, ailments and even death. In some cases, a death sentence. Some children are born with cancer that kills them 2 or 3 years after birth.

What a harsh way to start a blog post right? I know. But I think that sometimes we Autism parents can forget the realities of our situation… there are people out there who have it so much worse.

The reason for this post is that many people have concern over recent findings in a study that I covered earlier today on this blog: Autism Study of The Month: Recurrence Risk for Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Baby Siblings Research Consortium Study

The risks of any younger sibling

That being said, that there are a large number of risks, you have to realize that any and all of those birth risks are possible in all births. That means, the first child you have has a risk.

Knowing that, any child you have afterwards has an increased risk.

How do I know that?

Well, if there’s a 10% risk of a disorder at childbirth… then having 2 children means you have a 10% chance and a 10% chance.. a 20% chance.

That’s actually not quite right, satistically but for the argument of this article, it’s close enough.

You essentially double your chances by having a second child because you took the risk twice. That increases every time you have another child.

That’s for anything and everything… not just Autism.

What does it say when you don’t take the risk?

So you don’t want to take the risk of having a second child with Autism? Have you ever asked yourself: “Why is that?”

Let’s not pretend that having children with Autism is not hard and it certainly does cost a lot… we all know that.

But is that the real reason? Or is there something more to it? Let me put it this way: If you did have get pregnant a second time and discovered the child would be born with Autism, would you have an abortion?

Take some time to really think about it… is there some level of denial there? What does this say about your acceptance of your child with Autism?


For me personally, I love my son with Autism, not despite Autism. I think he’s amazing and has taught me a lot more in 6 years than I did in the 30 years prior.

Having a second child with or without Autism just does not seem like a risk to me.

I’ve had a few people on Twitter ask me what I thought of the recent findings… they asked me if I would take the risk or avoid the risk.

My response was this:

Decide whether or not to have another child with your heart, not your fears.

Ask yourself if you love your child. Ask yourself if you love your family. Ask yourself if you want to add another beautiful child to your family. Ask yourself what you heart is telling you.

Weigh the pros and cons, I’m not saying that there are no financial responsbilities or unforeseen risks that may arise but be aware that those finances and risks are always there, regardless of siblings or studies.

If no one had children for fear of the risks.. there would be no children.


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Stuart Duncan
I am the father of 2 great boys, Cameron (Autistic) and Tyler, his younger brother. Founder of Autcraft.
Stuart Duncan

Stuart Duncan

I am the father of 2 great boys, Cameron (Autistic) and Tyler, his younger brother. Founder of Autcraft.

0 thoughts on “Recurrence Risk for ASD Siblings

  • September 30, 2011 at 6:21 pm

    I do have two children on the spectrum and love them both totally and unconditionally. What you have put forth here is a simplistic and flawed argument that basically, if a parent does not wish to add another possibly autistic child to their family, they somehow don’t accept the first child or love him/her enough. That’s a crock.

    I work myself to death for my children. Read my blog. Deciding not to have any more children was the only choice my husband and I felt prepared to make under the circumstances. We’re dealing with both high (our son) and low functioning (our daughter) autism, a sleep disorder, behavior issues so severe they require therapy, autoimmune issues in both children, increased susceptibility to colds/flu, severe alleriges (both seasonal and to food – the food allergy can actually kill my daughter), and a host of other issues on a daily basis, many of those issues times two. We LIVE in the doctor’s office. I also now have an anxiety disorder from the stress. For years I have lived with depression, which I may have finally learned to deal with minus the meds. Again, no guarantees because of the stress.

    I do this because I love my children. It would be a lot easier to let someone else take care of them but I do it because of that love and don’t have any kind of life in the process.

    If I got pregnant again, I’d abort long before the time came to take any tests to determine whether the baby has any issues or not. Not only can we not afford the cost of taking care of another child, it would be stupid for me to bring a baby into the family that I can’t take care of because I’m constantly busy with the other two. It would also be stupid and irresponsible for me to bring another child into the family because he or she would be constantly at risk of harm due to my daughter’s behavioral issues. I have to sleep some time and occasionally go to the bathroom. I can not be in the room with her every second of every day. We just got her to the point a few months ago where she doesn’t attack our son every day, and she has relapsed a couple of times recently.

    Yeah, I’m sure there are people out there that have it worse. I am so damned tired of hearing the ‘it’s not that bad, what if your kid had a deadly disease?’ argument. It minimizes the painful experiences of parents of autistic children and it doesn’t help. It’s the same as saying, ‘well your kid isn’t dying, so you really don’t have any problems’.

    This is what we live with every day. Money is not going to just drop out of the sky because we had another baby. The universe isn’t going to just open up and rain cash down on us because we brought another child into an already cash-broke and stressful situation.

    What does it say about my feelings about my children, that I refuse to have any more? It says I can not in good conscience bring another child into the family that we can not financially afford. It says I’m leaving myself free from the rigors of caring for a newborn to take care of the children I already have. It says I will not bring another child into the family who is likely to be harmed by a sibling with behavior issues. It says my husband and I accept our children and love them unconditionally but are realistic enough to know that in no way can we handle more than we as a family already have to live with, regardless of whether the new baby would have autism or not. That’s both head and heart talking.

    I am so tired of this kind of argument. Hearing it from another parent who has a child on the spectrum and should be able to understand the situation is just too much.


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