Apr 25, 2012 0 Share

Hope and Expectation


Black and white image of pregnant woman's belly and scan results.
iStockphoto

Emily and I are having a baby, hopefully in mid-August. 

I say hopefully in mid-August because unlike with both Emily and me (I was a ten-month baby), postmature births nowadays simply aren't allowed. 

And premature births may be disproportionately Aspie. 

We do not yet know whether we are expecting a son or a daughter. (An anatomy scan late last week was inconclusive.) So far, we have every reason to believe he or she is doing fine—physically. 

Neurologically, we just don't know. Our genetic counselor told us that Asperger Syndrome—which she knows I have—is a “genetic nightmare” because unlike Down Syndrome and certain other disabilities, AS cannot easily be tested for. You can't just look at a single gene or a single chromosome and say yes, he's got it or no, she doesn't—or even how likely he or she is to have it. 

But even if our baby is delivered full term, he or she is at risk. For one thing, s/he'll have an Aspie father of course—and AS does run in families. (That's how Michael John Carley figured he might as well get tested, after his son showed some Aspie traits.) 

For another thing, while I won't discuss my precise age here I am too old for the Jaycees, and I've gotten AARP junk mail for a little while now. (Apparently though, I'm not yet too old to get carded!) While an older mother is a high-risk factor for certain things like Down Syndrome because her ovaries have started scraping the bottom of the proverbial barrel, an older father is a high-risk factor for autism spectrum disorders because, well—it seems men don't save our best for last either!

So starting when our son or daughter is born, we're going to be extra vigilant for things like extreme sensitivities (water, metal, fabric, fluorescent light, paper, etc.—I don't know of anything which is guaranteed to cause no problems for any Aspie anywhere), stimming, echolalia, repetitive behaviors and of course being just plain “out of sync” with others.

I'm going to be not only watching but also hoping.

Hoping for a neurotypical. 

Hoping for a child who may have tantrums once in a while, even in public, but never meltdowns which will not only be excruciating torture for him/her but also make life uncomfortable for everyone else in the room at the time. 

Hoping for a child who won't risk making a fool out of him/herself every single time s/he opens his/her mouth. 

Hoping for a son or daughter who might or might not be the most popular kid in school, but will certainly while still in K-12 have some friends. And surely a date or two, if not a full-fledged boyfriend or girlfriend.

Hoping for a son or daughter who will do better in school because when s/he's out sick s/he can get the notes and homework from a fellow student. And won't tick off the teachers –yes, that matters and will always matter as long as teachers are human, sad to say!

Hoping for a son or daughter who can find a good job and keep it. Hoping for a son or daughter about whom I won't have to worry regarding what will happen to him or her when I'm gone. (And given both my current age and family history, it's even money whether or not I'll be around for his/her 30th birthday.)

And yes, I know that all these problems aren't Aspie monopolies. But as the saying goes, you don't have to be crazy to work here, but it sure helps. Well, you don't have to be NT to have a good life—but it sure helps!