Sunday, May 8, 2011

O, Children

For some reason, a lot of people assume right off the bat that I don't like children and don't want any children of my own. When pressed, people have told me that the reason they assume this is because I would likely have an autistic child, and wouldn't that be hard? They also tell me that they feel that parenting would be too hard for me because of my disability.
In a world as screwy as this, I'm just somewhat grateful to see people acknowledge that autism most likely has a genetic cause. But this implication still bothers me.
It bothers me because it treats a disabled child like an inherent curse, instead of seeing a planned child, no matter what their ability or neurotype is, as a blessing and a treasure. It bothers me because it assumes that disabled people are de facto bad parents.
One of the most screwed up reasons I've heard people assume I didn't want children though, was the idea that I would be "incapable of showing love and affection to them." In fact, for most of my teen years, I made a vow to never become a parent, because I swallowed this idea that I couldn't feel, show, or express love, and I worried that I would be a ruinous parent for this reason. Now, I know that that stereotype is just that: A cruel, malicious presumption based on a misunderstanding of how I think, feel, and love. But the idea that I would be a bad parent because of this lingers, and it upsets me greatly.
I do have my reservations about having children. I'm too young to think about it now too deeply, but I'm concerned about the environmental implications of having children, I worry about losing out on living many of my dreams by having children, I worry about how I as a person with Sensory Processing Disorder would handle labour pains and pregnancy, I'm concerned about how I would choose a proper "donor", and I am concerned about my child being bullied, not just for being autistic, but for being the child of two lesbians, one of whom is trans. These reasons don't mean that I don't want children because I'm autistic. They just mean I have a difficult time intellectually with meshing my life as it is now with the life of a mother.
Whatever the case, disability does not mean that someone will inherently be a bad mother. Ever. Neither does weight, age, race, neurotype, sexual orientation, gender identity, nationality, religious background, past history, or military status. We have to stop thinking that there is only one "right" type of mother. It is this type of narrow mentality which also creates the paradigm of the "right" kind of child, which has led to much suffering, grief, and anguish for all involved when it comes to autism, for reasons I don't believe I need to elaborate upon.


  1. My father is autistic and he is also the best father in the universe. Seriously, most people should be so lucky to have a parent this loving and fantastic.

    So i think you are completely right in not allowing somebody's preconceived notions stop you from having children if that's what you want.

  2. hey, I'm autistic, and I don't wnat to have children for various reasons that have nothing to do with that, but, I was one day talking about this to a friend and suddenly thought "Besides, what if I have a child and he is neurotypic? That would be imposible to handle". I don't understand why someone would think you don't want children because they will provably be autistic, when the real dificulties for you as an autistic mother (as I see it, or at least for me as an autistic mother) would come if they were not!

  3. Saia Sikira: This is something I've contemplated as well, but like I said, I would love any theoretical children I had, regardless of neurotype.
    Clarissa: My father was autistic too, and he was probably the most fun parent in the neighbourhood. I wish more people could appreciate the fact that autistic parenting is nothing new, people have been doing it anonymously for generations.

  4. oh, of course I would love any child too, I just mean that practical dificulties are more for both mother and child when their neurotypes are different, so... whatever (I'm too tired for English)

  5. I also don't ever want to have children, but I think that if I did I would also find it easier to raise an autistic child than a non-autistic one ... I'd understand them better.

  6. I've heard a lot of people express the same sentiment on the spectrum. Which is why I am so frustrated by how difficult it is to adopt when you have a disability, because I'm sure there are many autistic orphans who could use parents that understand them, but they're beyond the grasp of many who would gladly be their mom or dad.

  7. I Never thought of that, but it seems totally basic now you said it, Leah

  8. Thanks for posting your thoughts. I have had the same kind of worries about whether I would be any good as a mother, very distressing thoughts. I would really like to have children and the last thing I want is to mess them up.

    I am fine with having an autistic child, and I suspect that I would have an easier time mothering then. My boyfriend is NT and assures me that what I have trouble with he can probably take care of, so I suppose having an NT child won't turn out to be disastrous either.