How many of you have a twin or both twins on the autistic spectrum? I seem to know quite a few sets affected. In some families, both twins are on the spectrum. Sometimes one twin is more severely affected than the other. In boy/girl twins it is often only the boy who has autism.
Statistically, identical twins have a much higher risk of both being affected, often quoted as 99%. In non identical twins, I suppose the risk is the same as for any sibling with ASD in the family ie around 8%. But is autism more common in twins than in a single child?
My boys on paper look remarkably similar. Their results of cognitive tests are often almost the same. Their ability to do other tasks are very similar but they are very different in many ways. There are no tests at a young age to indicate personalities.
I remember the first Ed Psych visiting them at age three, asking me if I would dress them differently so she could tell them apart. I laughed and told her she would have no problem! She had looked at their reports and presumed they must be identical.
Another Ed Psych remarked how opposite to each other they were, almost as if I had one child with ASD and the other without it. Each had an equal half. While one boy is sensory seeking, the other is sensory avoiding. One likes to eat continually, his twin needs to be reminded to eat. They mirror each other in so many ways.
They are proof of how different every child with autism is, even those closely related to each other.
Parenting multiples has its own problems. Not just practical problems like feeding and looking after two babies at the same time. As they grow up, they often both need attention at the same time. Any parent of twins will tell you how much harder it is than to look after two siblings who are close in age.
Adding autism makes what is already double the work, squared. Any child with autism requires so much more attention than a child without autism. Then you double it.
Double the time, double the therapy, double the patience. Don’t even think about the costs. Financial costs, costs to the parents’ mental health.
Are there any advantages?
For the twin, with a non autistic sibling, I would imagine the benefits are great. A permanent partner for life who understands you and supports you. The twin bond is very strong. Some say the bond to a twin sibling is stronger than the mother/child bond. So those twins are the lucky ones.
And if they are both affected? They have a partner for life too. Maybe not one who can provide practical support but certainly a sibling who loves them unconditionally without judgement.
Twin parents, like autism parents, have a mutual understanding. Those people chosen to be a combination of both twin parents and autism parents have a close affinity to each other. We support each other because we understand better than most, how challenging it can be.