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A Dad's Response to 'How Can I Minimize My Chances of Having a Disabled Child?'

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When a 16-year-old asked a hypothetical question reflecting his terror at the thought of having a disabled child, one father gave him a not-at-all hypothetical response.

How can I minimize my chances of having a disabled child?” the user asked on, a question-and-answer website. He followed up:

I don’t want an autistic or Downs child, for example. I am planning on having a strong career in computer science or medicine, and I want to marry someone who is doing the same and have kids some day, but I’m terrified that they’ll be severely disabled, and my wife won’t agree to abort the fetus. I (maybe naively) believe in love, so I wouldn’t necessarily be able to leave my wife if I truly loved her and she refused to abort.

Note that this is purely hypothetical. I am only 16 years old at the moment, but I have thought about this a lot.

Quora offers users the ability to both respond to questions and “upvote” responses they like. In this case, the response with the most amount of votes came from Matthew Might, a professor of computer science and medicine who’s also a dad to a boy with disabilities. Might’s been in the news before — in July 2014, The New Yorker published his piece, “One of a Kind: What do you do if your child has a condition that is new to science?” detailing his family’s search for another patient with the genetic disorder his son has.

In response to this teen’s question, Might told a shortened version of his family’s powerful story (below). In it, he discusses the success he’s achieved in computer science — not in spite of, but because of his son.

“I am grateful to my ‘disabled child’ for teaching me one of life’s most valuable lessons: the importance of using our hauntingly brief time on this planet to do the things that matter, the things that will make a difference,” Might wrote, “the things that are inspired by love and guided by knowledge.”

Read Might’s full response below:

Originally published: August 17, 2015
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