Having just finished my undergraduate degree (BSc Hons in Psychology with a 2:1, I shall allow myself to show off here!), I'm wondering what to do with myself next. Not knowing what's coming next is a bit daunting, but I think most graduates feel like this at the moment. In answer to the question of "What next?", my mind is consciously thinking along the lines of further study (I'm waiting to hear back from a postgraduate course in mental health), or finding a job (something mental-health related would be awesome) if that doesn't work out. On the other hand, recently I've somewhat subconsciously become more aware of the presence of babies around me - "Dear goodness no, not yet!" is what my mind has to say to that!
I would love to be a parent one day. Some Aspies I know don't want to have children, but it's something that I've wanted since I was a child. I like to think that I'd be a good parent, but I don't know if having children would be wise.
Mum and I have sometimes talked about how many members of our family have been diagnosed with autism, and how many we believe have some form of it (including Asperger's) without necessarily being diagnosed. Assuming a genetic basis for autism (I won't argue about the possible causes of autism here), based on the instances in my family, a child of mine has a good chance of having some form of autism. While I do worry about how I'd manage a child with autism, my main fear is how they'd cope.
Growing up with Asperger's wasn't at all easy for me. I had few friends, felt left out a lot, and was often scolded for doing or saying something inappropriate which to me made perfect sense at the time. I had difficulty fitting in, and was aware that others had difficulty managing me. I'd wake up in the morning and worry that I'd unintentionally do something wrong to upset someone that day, which often did happen. Learning social skills and cues consciously took a lot of trial and error, and I'd try to adopt certain behaviours to fit in that didn't feel at all natural to me. Academic success didn't make up for the fact that in most other respects, I near-constantly felt like a failure.
Would having a child, knowing that they have a good chance of going through that pain, make me selfish? Why bring somebody into the world if they'd spend years trying and failing to fit into it? While I know that I could adopt a child (I'm not ruling that out at all), there's still the part of me that (instinctively?) wants to pass on my genes and create a new life. The worries about having an autistic child have been in my mind since I was in my mid-teens, and have recently popped up more strongly - while I tell myself that there's no use thinking about it until I plan on having children, which I imagine won't be for many years yet, still I worry.