Did I Cause My Son's Autism?

April 7, 2019

 

This is a difficult conversation to have, because these are my inner thoughts so, I still from time to time grapple with them, whether right or wrong. Since my sons diagnosis years ago, he was 4 years of age, now he’s 13 years old. He’s grown from the small, cute little boy with the world in front of him, to a young man as tall as me. He spends most of his time smiling, copying the latest dances from his brothers, singing along to his favorite songs, almost always on note somehow. One of the things I learned in the beginning was about the spectrum, levels, limitations, expectations. Class by class, other parents, teachers, doctors helped me understand these things. Right from the start we knew that he was severely autistic as some call it, but the true term is low functioning. I initially had no clue what that meant, it’s scary when doctors, speech therapist and others explain it to a parent. It crumbles your world, you go from believing your child has the world in front of them, to believing that there are so many limits to what they will or can do in that world, but you hope for a miracle. It was all so overwhelming and confusing, initially we thought he wasn’t picking up words because he may have had hearing impairment, but that wasn’t it, so here we were a young couple living our day to day, continuously adjusting to military life. When we were pregnant with Isaiah my day to day was consumed with Air Force task, learning, preparing for possible deployments, working in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, traveling when necessary. That being said, I had to take off for a few weeks on an assignment, simple enough, I’d be back in time for the birth of my son so I thought. During this assignment we initially had no way of communicating or contacting family from the field, once we were able to get things such as phones and internet up (which was our job), I then began to check my e-mail. At the top of my messages was one from my boss, congratulating me on the birth of my son Isaiah. I was excited, yelled loudly in excitement, everyone around me was excited from tent to tent, people congratulated me. It was an amazing feeling, but then it hit me that I wasn’t supposed to miss this, I was supposed to be there, it hit me that he was born early, 7 weeks early. At this time I had no clue what that meant, or what affects this would have, all was normal until his diagnosis of being on the spectrum. Let me say, the truth is we don’t correlate being born premature with autism, nor vaccines or many other things that have been linked by theory. In fact there aren’t very many clear straight lines on how a child ends up on the spectrum, so we all wonder. I wondered so much, I wondered mainly if I had been there, would he had been born early. Was it stress that caused him to be born prematurely and did that cause my son to be on the spectrum. Like many parents I wonder if this was my fault, in fact I had done so for years even after leaving the military, and time to time still do. I tell this story to say, that us as parents quite often wonder how and why our children are on the spectrum, and we don’t know the answer. What we do however know, is that we love our children and that they are vibrant, full of life, with wants, needs desires and joys just as all children.

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