A while ago, I shared something someone else originally posted on their Twitter account. It rang so incredibly true & applied to many questions I’ve received as a Special Needs parent that I HAD to reshare it. Here it is below:
For a quick recap, Jackson was diagnosed with Autism at 22 months & I was already 8 months pregnant with his younger brother. I also just gave birth to their younger sister. I’ve been very public with everything regarding Jackson, our family & all that jazz & as a result, get a good amount of questions from other SN parents after their kid has recently been diagnosed. The main question being “how did you decide to have more kids after getting Jackson’s diagnosis?”
To read more about Jackson’s Autism diagnosis, CLICK HERE
FIRST OF ALL - OUCH
I know the question isn’t meant to come off harsh or with any insult behind it but damn. Yes - special needs kids aren’t a walk in the park but it is what it is. Much like Autism, Special Needs is a spectrum. Needs vary from being very intense to barely even being noticeable. It’s an incredibly complex question to breakdown but when it comes down to it, you should love your child unconditionally. Read that again. UNCONDITIONALLY.
I can’t speak for other parents but with Matt & I, when we decided to have kids, it was a very conscious effort to grow our family knowing anything could be possible. You know how when you’re pregnant & they run tests for things like down syndrome or facial deformities? Matt & I see those tests as ways to stay informed & be ready when the baby is born should these things happen. Unfortunately, the very opposite is the case for some, meaning it would be a reason to abort the child [LORD, that’s a different topic but you see where I’m going?] Just because something could possibly be different than what we had envisioned isn’t a reason to abandon the child [unless there is a very serious medical issue that would result in death].
Since Jackson’s diagnosis, I’ve come across this short essay called “Welcome to Holland”. I really recommend other parents who have recently received a diagnosis for their child to read it & find some comfort in it.
SECONDLY - THAT POST IS A BLANKET STATEMENT & I’LL ADD AN *
There is a massive difference between abandoning a child because it’s easy, convenient & you just don’t want to deal with them OR not physically & financially being able to care for them. For example: if you have a medically complex child that you know will require a lot of energy, money & time, do right by them & either dedicate to them fully understanding it or allow a family who is willing to love that soul like they should be have them.
THIRDLY - LEARNING OPPORTUNITY
To clarify, it’s not like we’re seeking out to have another Special Needs kid. However, having an NT [neuro typical] child after & seeing the differences is eye opening. Miles gets the opportunity to learn in new ways. Everyone sees life in a more understanding & less judgmental way. Having the opportunity to raise part of a generation that welcome’s difference speaks for itself.
For us, our first born has Autism & we didn’t know it until the 2nd was about to come. Why did we decide to continue & try for a 3rd?
BECAUSE WE DIDN’T
WANT TO LIVE
IN FEAR OR REGRET.
Yes - Jackson doesn’t have the most obvious form of Autism but once you’re in this club that no one really plans to be in, that’s it! The plan was always 3. Matt & I still discuss this weekly - if we ended up with 3 Special Needs children, then that would be our family. Do you know there are people that specifically look to adopt those kids with Special Needs? Check out this Super Dad in England & The Summers with 5 medically fragile children. It honestly warms my heart to know there are people & families that are more than willing to care for these individuals like they’re not only one of their own but honestly unconditionally.
If you’re feeling anxious about deciding to grow your family after receiving a diagnosis, after your child has come out to you or anything of the nature that alters your “dream” for your kid, take a beat & seriously, seriously consider your options. This is me putting my emotions aside & telling you if it makes you uncomfortable to imagine having more than one disabled, gay, autistic or different kid, I beg you not to have another until you’re positive. As parents, we have the power to raise incredible human beings filled with love, education, kindness & beauty. If you decide to bring one into this world & show hesitation towards them, I’d call that a disservice. Even if your first came out like a dream but you’re scared a second may take your attention from the first - consider it all.
Don’t get me wrong - this isn’t an attack on people deciding to not have kids at all. This is a reminder to those considering to expand to very seriously consider what having a kid & what loving them unconditionally really means & looks like. When it comes to growing a family in general, there are so many factors to consider, especially if your child is special needs or offers your family any challenges.
As a take away, it’s a little rude to ask someone if they plan to have more despite being presented with challenges. Why? Because that’s their business. If they wish to share that information, they will. Asking if anyone is going to have more kids is totally normal but if you’re specifically asking for that kind of information, don’t. I’m fine with people asking because people need to learn & I don’t mind educating [some]. However, some are more sensitive to this topic for good reason.