I am in my mid-thirties and have ASD. For the past few months I have been dating a woman and our relationship has become very serious. I have not dated much before and have lived alone since I left my parents' home at age 20. I think I am ready to live together, but my girlfriend really wants to have children. I am not sure what kind of father I will be nor what I should be thinking about. Can you help?
Preparing for Parenthood
Parenting is a big job for anyone and involves big changes in life style. It also can have big rewards, but it should be considered carefully. Babies cannot do much for themselves so they need a lot of attention and they need now, not just when you feel like giving it. They also are loud and sometimes stinky!
On the other hand, not all parents are the same and there can be different ways of being a good parent. You should have an honest discussion with your girlfriend about what she expects of you as a parent and what she expects of herself.
Some of the difficulties that parents with ASD confront are:
Difficulty reading the child's cues and knowing what they need.
Difficulty coping with the fact that children are rarely logical.
Difficulty attending to the needs of the child when absorbed in an interesting project or activity.
Difficulty coping with less time alone.
Difficulty with changing plans based on the child's needs.
Sensory overload (children are loud and smelly).
Many of these are difficult for neurotypical parents, too, but may be a bigger challenge for those with ASD.
On the other hand, ASD parents may have strengths that neurotypical parents do not. Here are some of the strengths of ASD parents:
May be better able to stay calm in a crisis.
May be better able to be consistent with a child.
May be better at gathering information and logically addressing problems.
I have seen many adults with ASD who are great parents. I have known others who have decided that they do not want to take on that challenge and others who are parents and struggle.
I think it is important to consider your strengths and challenges as well as the strengths and challenges of your girlfriend and talk honestly about whether you are willing to support each other if you do have children. If you do decide to stay with your girlfriend and eventually have children, I strongly recommend that you make learning about child development one of your special interests. It's a great way to use your talents to improve your parenting abilities.
The AuSM Counseling and Consulting Team offers therapy and support:
Diagnostic, functional or behavioral assessments for children, adolescents, and adults
Marriage and couples therapy
Training for organizations and service providers
To inquire about our services or to make an appointment please contact AuSM at 651.647.1083 or e-mail email@example.com.
Established in 1971, the Autism Society of Minnesota (AuSM) is a self-funded organization committed to education, advocacy and support designed to enhance the lives of those affected by autism from birth through retirement. www.ausm.org
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