I saw something online recently (I can’t remember where and I didn’t even make note of where I found it because it ticked me off so much) where someone was contemplating if parents of kids with Autism regret having their kids, and that she (I’m assuming the post was written by a female) didn’t think she could go through a pregnancy if she knew that would be the outcome.
Before I start on my vent about this statement, I have been trying to understand for the last couple of weeks where she is coming from because understanding equals non-judgement. Unfortunately, having a son with Autism, I have come to the conclusion that I can’t think about this statement without judgement.
So, the short answer is NO, I DON’T REGRET having either of my kids. They are both amazing, challenging, interesting, complicated, funny and happy children who will do amazing things with their lives, as we all do. Just because my son has Autism doesn’t make him any less or more “valuable” than any other child. Every child is a precious gift.
On a daily basis, I deal with “looks” from other parents if my son is melting down in public, people tell me I need to permanently institutionalize my son (to “humour” these people, I asked the professionals in the field if he was “bad enough” to institutionalize and, after they stopped laughing, they gave me their official answer of “no, he isn’t”), people assuming he’s stupid and won’t amount to anything, parenting “advice” from people who think they know how to handle my son’s triggers better than I do, and people who tell me they “know Autism” because they’ve seen a documentary, etc. I’ve been on this journey long enough to know that it’s easier to listen to what they all have to say (because every once in a while there is a golden nugget that I can change slightly to actually be helpful), thank them for sharing, and move on. Don’t get me wrong, in the beginning, it was horrifying to receive the “looks” and “advice”, but until you live with someone with Autism 24/7, and the sleep-deprivation that goes along with it, with respect, you have no idea what you are talking about.
I know that my life will always involve additional responsibilities to my son, as it will for my daughter and step-daughter, no matter what their medical, social or other needs are. My son just has a few more additional needs to ensure he’s capable of being an independent and happy person.
At the end of the day, I hope that the woman who made the initial statement never has to deal with anything “extraordinary”. I hope for her sake, that her child(ren) are neurotypical, never struggle in any subject in school, break a bone, etc; or that she and/or her partner never get any age-related conditions as they grow old. She wouldn’t be able to handle any of these things.
For fear of sounding flakey, kids with special needs choose their parents because the parents can handle it (even on days when we feel we can’t do it anymore!) and, because as my new t-shirt my man got me says, we have superpowers!!