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Autism and the Octuplet Fiasco February 11, 2009

Posted by hopeauthority in Autism, Family, Health, Parenting, special needs.
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Last month, the headline story that had rumors of autism swirling around it involved the tragic death of John Travolta’s son. Some people asked me my opinion on it, but I opted not to post on it because it seemed too raw. Too private. Too sad.

This month, we have the octuplets birth. And the autism footnote to the story is that at least one of the mother’s previous six children has autism. Two others may have other special needs issues. Now she has eight more children. What are the odds that one some several of them may have special needs or autism as well?

Am I the only person who can’t stop thinking about that one child with autism?

Do you think the press will get to that point some day? Maybe on the 15th interview? the 20th? If she’s spending 45 minutes per day holding each newborn…6 hours…and she wants to go back to school…and she likes to sleep…and she plans to work… How much time is left for the child with autism?

How do you adequately parent 14 children in only 24 hours each day?

This is no doubt a hot topic for debate. And while it may be private, it doesn’t rise to the same level as the Travolta death. There is a sense of “fair game” here. Like the mom brought this on herself. And she actually did, by her deliberate actions and conscious choices. I don’t hate her, but much of the public does.

As the mother of two children… one with autism… and as a woman who did in-vitro fertilization seven times in order to have that family…and as an only child myself, I couldn’t let this story pass without comment.

I am all for women taking heroic measures to have their families. I understand the temptation to throw caution to the wind and transfer back more embyros than the doctor recommends (especially after numerous prior failed IVF attempts). In my case, I’d lost both of my parents prior to having children. So if anyone desperately needed a “connection”, it was me.

So why don’t I have 14 children?

Because I love the two children that I have. And loving them means I want to share a lot of my time with them. And because one of them has autism, he needs a lot of my time so he will be the best that he can be. And she needs a lot of my time so she will not resent her brother taking up so much of my time. And they both need a lot of my time so I can raise them to love and care for each other.  So, I would never do anything to risk my life and leave them without a mother, or to add such a large number of siblings at one time that I’d effectively leave them without a mother anyway. I put their needs first.

When my daughter was born, I fell in love instantly. She was everything I ever needed. I was happy. Like some moms, I actually couldn’t imagine loving another child as much as I loved her…until her brother came along. He was perfect. Family complete.

Sure, autism made it easier for me to get through that window of time where the biological clock is ticking loudly that “it’s now or never” for another child. But historically women stop having children after having a reasonable number of them. Or they may even stop sooner if there are health issues to consider.

It’s hard to find the positives in this story. We want and need the right to pursue a family through medical technology. We want to choose how many embryos we put back.  But there is something wrong with a single, unemployed mother of 6 children…at least one of whom has autism…having octuplets. It seems reckless to me.  Everyone is bitching about the price to the taxpayers…But what is the price to the child or children with autism?

And while I’m ranting, is anyone else just blown away by this woman complaining on national TV about how her own mother wasn’t really there for her emotionally? Hello! Whose house are you freeloading in with your 6…soon to be 14… kids? Who took care of them when you were on bedrest? Is that any way to thank your parents? No wonder they stopped at one.

Do you think state agencies should follow the family to determine whether it’s in the best interest of the autistic child …or any of those children…to remain in her care?

Any opinions to share?



1. HeatherPride - February 12, 2009

I had the same reaction to her rant against her mother. It’s hard to believe that when she’s living in her mother’s house and her mom is watching all the kids. Give me a break.

Did you see the kids on Dateline? I thought they seemed like pretty good kids. It made me sad because they are going to barely know their mother after those 8 babies come home! The kid with autism appeared to be high functioning. And as for the other two, one was speech delayed and I’m not sure what was up with the other one, but it made me think that the TV show was trying to portray the kids’ situation as worse than it actually was.

As if they needed to add more drama. The woman just had 8 babies! At once!! Clearly, this woman is emotionally disturbed. I do feel bad for all the kids, and I hope they are looked after.

2. MOMSBLESSINGS - February 14, 2009

I do think that State agencies should keep a very close eye on this situation. I can’t see these children not being neglected, one person can not care for, let alone nurture, that many children its just impossible. There has been alot of talk that she is very active within her church, and they are going to support and help her but even those volunteers will burn out. Beside the fact they have families of their own. The Mom from Jon and Kate plus 8 was on Dr. Phil and she said they had 50 people rotating shifts for the first year, and she is a very organized person and the first year almost killed her, and lets not forget she has a very helpful hands on husband in the picture, oh and only 8 kids. So beside the financial issues involved, with no income coming in other than from the State and disability how on earth is one person supposed to pull this off? I certainly hope after the media dies down they don’t forget about these kids.

This mother needs to stop lying about money she is receiving, stop wasting money on plastic surgery, and put these kids first and do the right thing by them, whatever that might be. I know she says she didn’t intend to have 8 at once and she only wanted one more, but she made the foolish decision to implant 6 embryos at once when she had 3 typical and 3 special needs children at home already. Lets hope someone can get through to this women, maybe she didn’t want to do selective reduction which I can completely understand, but maybe she should consider putting some of them up for adoption, there are so many loving couples who would love to have them and could give them the kind of life every child deserves to have.

3. Bonnie Sayers - February 15, 2009

I have been concerned about the oldest child being autistic. Not sure when that will come out in an interview by her or asked about. I live in Los Angeles also and trying to stay aprised of the local spin. Luckily we have the regional center system here so if he is a consumer there is a service coordinator.

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