Autism Isn’t What I Signed Up For | WBEZ
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Death, Sex & Money

Autism Isn’t What I Signed Up For

Diane Gill Morris was 25 when her first son, Kenny, was born. About 15 months later, she and her husband realized that he’d stopped talking. By the time Kenny was officially diagnosed with autism, Diane’s second son, Theo, was eight months old. Less than a year later, he was also showing signs of the disorder.

Diane left a comment on our Facebook page in response to an article about people who are considering having kids. "I have sacrificed a huge part of who I am—given up my career, gone broke, accepted social isolation," she wrote. "If someone had told me this is what it would be like, I never would have had kids." 

Before having her sons, Diane worked full time. She wanted to travel. But those things have been pushed aside. After Theo put his teacher's arm in a sling when he was 6 years old, Diane cut her work hours, pulled both boys out of school and taught them at home for several years. She told me she often feels isolated, particularly from other moms. "My kid’s the lunatic who I have to be, like, right next to every second," she says. "I can’t sit down and have a conversation with another mom. Because I’m always worried that he's going to beat up some other kid on the playground." 

Diane's sons are now teenagers, transitioning from being seen as autistic children to young black men. Diane’s focus is on making sure they’re safe in the world, and teaching them how to control their emotions and their bodies when she's not around. 

When Diane spoke with us from her home in North Carolina, she told us about how raising her boys has made her "devoutly atheist," about how her marriage has changed since the kids' diagnosis, and about how she can both love her sons deeply and mourn the children she never met. 

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