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How Should Autistic People Feel About Having Kids?

So I’m getting to the point where people are asking me if I’m thinking about kids. And the answer is yes. All the time.

I know there’s no clear-cut answers about whether anyone should have children. Let alone people with autism. I’m touching on things here that are more personal than I want to share. But I can say that my boyfriend is also on the spectrum. And neither of us is able to work full-time without sacrificing the tenuous mental health that we’ve worked so hard for. We’d have to rely on Social Security to help us.

We also have executive functioning difficulties that make it hard for us to take care of ourselves. And we have special interests that would cause us a great deal of pain if we couldn’t engage in them. I know a lot of people wouldn’t understand this. They’d just hear “oh, boo hoo, you can’t focus on yourself anymore.” If you’re not autistic, you don’t get it. Our special interests are everything.

There’s also the fact that, y’know, I need some time to focus on me. I’ve been in a depressive fog for most of my life. I haven’t been able to read or write as much as I’d like to. I feel like I’m just intellectually waking up.

But people say none of that matters. Even other people with psychiatric disorders have told me that a child gives you deeper meaning in your life than you could ever imagine. I believe it. I can’t say I wouldn’t be taken by the forces of nature and be a great mother. I do like animals. And I have a long history of taking care of friends.

There’s the genetic factor too though. I wouldn’t want my child to have autism. What if they were low-functioning? I wouldn’t get to teach them things and watch them grow.

Even if my kid were high-functioning I wouldn’t want them to go through what I’ve gone through. Being autistic is so deeply, fundamentally lonely. As an adult I know there’s others like me. But my school years were hell. That agony ends, but kids don’t know it.

I don’t care to get into what I was like as a kid either. My mom was a saint.

Some people tell me that because I’m autistic I’m better equipped to raise an autistic kid. That’s legit. I know there are well-adjusted autistic people out there who’d raise well-adjusted autistic kids. I’m just not one of them.

But none of this is going to change the fact that our hormones are much bigger than we are. People with all sorts of problems reproduce every day. I can say that gene editing research and better egg-freezing techniques have given me hope. I don’t know what I’m going to do yet. Either way, I’m sure someone’s going to be calling me selfish. And either way I could have massive regrets.

If anyone reading this is having the same thoughts I’d love to hear from you.

 

*Image from speechbuddy.com.

How Should Autistic People Feel About Having Kids?


Gwendolyn Kansen

Gwen Kansen is a mental health writer in New York. She likes food, karaoke, and smart-but-campy books & TV. She's hoping to capture a little sliver of life on here that might not be the first thing you'd see.


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APA Reference
Kansen, G. (2016). How Should Autistic People Feel About Having Kids?. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 23, 2020, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/not-robot/2016/08/how-should-autistic-people-feel-about-having-kids/

 

Last updated: 30 Aug 2016
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