Thursday, June 21, 2007

Getting back on the horse

As we drove home a couple weeks ago, trying to make individual sense of the sudden confirmation of what we had talked ourselves out of some time ago--that Scooter may be autistic--it became clear that Trillian and I were at the same stage in our thinking.

Scooter was asleep in the back seat, having missed his nap at school and worn out by the evaluation session. Trillian brought up the donor and the possibility of researching if any other offspring have problems. And while there are ways to do this and we probably will, I turned to her and said something along the lines of, "Seriously? It's my genetics. How can it not be?"

Now both of us have done the reading and know that there is a genetic component, but that there is no single gene that is responsible for autism. And even beyond genetics, there may be some environmental factors. And so I understand, intellectually, that this is not something where we can lay blame, that there are so many factors involved and, even though my genetics are most likely implicated, that I cannot be the sole source.

Another issue that came up around this time was how this might affect our attempts for baby #2. There was a part of me that wished I'd already had another kid or not had the miscarriage, just so I wouldn't have to question the wisdom of having another child. While the general incidence of autism is often put at around 1 in 150, the chances of having a second child with autism is estimated at 1 in 20. But interestingly, this has turned out to be a non-issue. I think that both Trillian and I were concerned that the other would want to back off, but a couple of conversations have proven the opposite.

As I said to Trillian during one of our discussions, I'd already thought about some of this, since it's not like I hadn't noticed that Scooter was not exactly like other kids. And I reasoned to myself that baby #2 would most likely be "normal," but even if baby #2 were a lot like Scooter, I could handle that. And if baby #2 has more severe problems? Well, I would let that play out as it might. Trillian and I formed a philosophy on this when I was pregnant with Scooter; by the time we were able to get blood work and ultrasounds that might indicate a problem, we knew that we were too attached to consider termination. And neither of us sees a reason to change our approach now.

My comfort with this decision grows as time passes and I get closer to returning to the craziness that is trying to get pregnant for me. Similarly, I find myself getting comfortable with the word "autism" and fitting it into my concept of my family. Hopefully things can continue in this vein.


Aliki2006 said...

I hope they continue this way for you both, too. It's hard and there will be ups and downs, but it sounds like you're headed in the right direction.

Lisa b said...

I feel the same way about my kids. I was so surprised to be told by genetics that many people do not feel this way. Life is about so many gambles. There are no guarantees.
I hope you don't really feel responsible for the autism, though in a way I understand. I actually felt better when I read a report on my daughter's condition saying it is more often inherited from the father. Not that I blame him in any way. It just took a weight of me feeling responsible.