This morning with a group of friends we were discussing our children, all of whom go to the same school and have autism and their births. We had been discussing their different additional diagnosis’ and how they had come about and whether we would have more children.

Whilst discussing this we got onto the topic of whether in the future tests will be available during pregnancy for autism and how we felt about that.

A baby sitting in a highchair with food on their head

What did I do?

As Ben is now 12, almost 13 (aaaaahhhh!) things have changed a lot already in scans etc available so I can imagine they will change more and there will one day be a test for autism.

Would I have the test in a future pregnancy if the test was available? Whether you agree with my views or not I hope this post helps you understand my feelings and give you a little insight into my life.

In the photo above Ben had not been diagnosed yet with autism but he was slower than other babies to develop and I had my suspicions there was something different about him.

In hindsight the differences I had noticed were autism. Ben had hated loud noises from birth in a different way from other babies. He had struggled with eye contact and rarely looked at anyone.

I loved Ben just as much then as I do now and these things did not matter they were part of who Ben is but they still made parenting hard.

Is parenting an autistic child hard?

There is no doubt about it parenting a child with autism is harder than parenting a child without any disabilities however as Ben is my only child I have no direct comparison. Parenting an autistic child will always be harder but that doesn’t mean you can’t do it!

There have been some really tough times with him over the years, but he is my whole world. When I was pregnant the only test available was amniocentesis for Down syndrome which I chose not to have. This was because it held a risk to the baby and was not guaranteed to be accurate.

I was also fully aware that even if my baby didn’t have Down syndrome there was no guarantee there would not be another problem.

A young boy laying on a float in a swimming pool

Ben in the early years

As it happened Ben was born not breathing and had to be resuscitated. Ben was diagnosed with a heart murmur at a few weeks old and then with autism a few weeks after his second birthday.

Would I have been making a claim for medical negligence if I had tests that showed my baby had not got any problems and then this came to light? Of course not because my child is my child and I know that no tests are ever 100% accurate.

Ben as he has grown

Ben has since gone on to develop or be diagnosed with multiple other issues but none of those could have been predicted and even if they had been would never change the way I feel about him.

If there was a test would I have it for a second baby? Whilst there have been some tough times with Ben over the years and now as he is starting puberty and almost a teenager I doubt they are over yet I wouldn’t change him.

Ben is who he is and even if I had been aware he had autism before he was born I wouldn’t have known how much of a comedian he would turn out to be, I wouldn’t have been aware he would have issues with his legs, and I wouldn’t have known he has Tourettes.

To test or not?

What I am saying is the test can never possibly tell you everything so I personally wouldn’t have it. I also wouldn’t like a 3d scan unless for medical reasons as would rather wait to see how the baby looks.

Even knowing how hard some aspects of parenting Ben have been I wouldn’t choose a test for another baby because I know that so many things can not be tested for and equally we never know what illnesses a child could contract.

Parenting is hard and personally, I think that if you would test for autism and consider aborting an autistic baby then you have to question if you are ready to parent because any number of conditions could make parenting harder and what would you do then?

That, however, is just my opinion, and at present, there is no test anyway (except for genetic conditions which show on chromosomes that have autistic elements). What are your thoughts? Would you like to see more tests developed for learning difficulties and similar?

If only we knew what the future would hold eh?

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