What are the odds on having another ASD child?

I hope most people reading about my boys are inspired by our story.

But, sometimes, I worry that I terrify people when they read that all four of our boys have classic autism? Perhaps you already have one child with autism and reading about our family  makes you think that your risk of having another child with autism is really high?

Can I start by saying that I personally know no other family like ours, where all four have classic autism. We are rare, very rare. There are familes with more than one child ‘on the spectrum’ but that might encompass a very broad range and include children with ADHD or dyspraxia, conditions which may classify them as also being ‘on the spectrum’ but not quite in the way that full blown classic autism is. So, there are perhaps a handful of families like ours out there but honestly, the risks are much lower than we as a family seem to project.

We consulted the genetics departments of two leading London hopsitals after we had three boys diagnosed and I still wanted to try for another baby. One gave us ‘odds’ of 50% after three children in a row (the twins are non-identical) but the other said our risk would always be 20%, however many children we went on to have.

The usual risk is given as around an 8% chance of another child in the family having autism when you already have one diagnosed. So even our personal risk only increased from 8% to 20%.

What if there were a pre natal test to predict autism ? What would we even do with the results? How could we know how the autism predicted by the test would impact on the child? All I knew was that our fourth child was a boy and that to me meant his risk was increased just because he was a boy and the more severe form of autism is more prevalant in boys than in girls.

And I was right; but I have never, ever regretted taking that  20% ‘risk’. My fourth son seems to be the least affected by his autism of my four boys in the fact that although he had no language at diagnosis, fortunately for us his behaviours were far less serious than his older brothers’. I hope though, that I would never have regretted that risk however he was as it was my choice to have another child.

Most of us make a choice to have children and we hope that our children will be unaffected by disability but when they are, it doesn’t make us love them less however much it challenges us as parents.





One thought on “What are the odds on having another ASD child?

  1. You are such a brave person. I could not risk it to have another one. I have a girl with classic autism, she learnt how to speak through PECS and now verbalising and getting ABA therapy which is working like a magic for us. I got training too. Being able to go to restaurants and cafes with her is such a great feeling since she learnt how to wait appropriately. I totally agree with you on the fact that we have to shout, scream for our children to be heard. She still does not have enough language to defend herself or explain things. I have to scream so many times in so many places to get her the best support or support her in the right way. Autism is draining the life out of us. I cannot see anything to celebrate about autism, at least in our case. I feel like my precious little one is trapped in autism. Autism is destroying my love for life.


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