Dear Autism Parents, It’s Not Your Fault
For anyone who has read this blog for a while now, you’ll know that every now and then I write an article that’s more about getting something off my chest, rather than looking at retro games. This is one such post.
My wife and I are still getting used to being “autism parents”. It’s something that I don’t think anyone ever truly “gets used to”, but we are researching and learning as much as we can. But there is one thing that I wanted to talk about – something that isn’t easy to discuss but, I hope, will help other new autism parents know that they aren’t alone in feeling this way.
The Initial Feeling of Guilt
Before we got the actual diagnosis of Autism, my wife and I were both pretty convinced that our daughter was autistic. It took me a bit longer to accept that idea than it did for my wife (you can read about that and the process we went through here). However, once we had both accepted it, a feeling of sheer guilt permeated our lives.
We started to think of all of the reasons why our beloved daughter “turned out” this way. We ran through everything that happened in her life until that point, trying to figure out what could have “made” her autistic. As Maisie says in the Autism & Us podcast, we were basically grieving.
I know that’s not a nice thing to say, and I know that nothing “made” our daughter autistic, but at that point in time, we didn’t really know anything about autism outside of the more common signs.
So, we started to question ourselves as parents. Every single action we had taken over the first couple of years of our daughter’s life was under scrutiny. What did we do wrong?
The true answer to that question, of course, is “nothing”. And that’s what I wanted to talk about in this article.
Don’t Blame Yourselves
This might not be the same for all Autism Parents, but for those of you who are or have gone through the same feelings; it’s not your fault.
In fact, Autism isn’t anyone’s fault.
My wife and I ran through so many different things that had happened over the years, trying to find something to blame. These included but weren’t limited to;
- The time our daughter ran face-first into a wall.
- The time she tripped and banged her head.
- The type of food we gave her.
- The area we lived in.
- The way we were raising and teaching her.
- The lack of socialising that we, as parents, do.
- Switching to bottled milk, possibly too soon.
There were so many things we questioned, trying to work out what went wrong. But the truth is, nothing “went wrong”. Our daughter was born Autistic.
Sure, we didn’t notice straight away, but how could we? We didn’t know what we were looking for and, honestly, the idea didn’t even cross our minds.
She would cry a lot because she was colicky. She would need a huge amount of milk, to the point where we had to use the Hungrier Babies formula. She was a quiet baby except when she was hungry. But she was our first child and we didn’t really have any point of comparison.
But I can tell you one thing; our daughter didn’t suddenly become autistic. We didn’t do something specific to “turn” her autistic. She was born that way. That’s who she is (and I wouldn’t change her for the world).
Your Child’s Autism Is Not Your Fault
Despite what some people or organisations in society try to tell you, the fact that your child is autistic is not your fault. Autism is not something you “give” your child. It is a part of them.
Now I’m sure my terminology isn’t quite right, and I hope the way I am explaining this doesn’t upset anyone with autism, but I just want to say this one thing to all new autism parents; it is not your fault.
But at the same time, you’re definitely not alone in feeling like it could be. It’s not, but that feeling is very strong. I know, because I’ve felt it.
We spent far too much effort and energy trying to find something or someone to blame – the energy we could have spent on playing with our daughter. So whilst I know that reading one blog post isn’t going to help that feeling go away (and it may never actually go away completely), just know that other autism parents are feeling the same way and that it isn’t true.
And That’s All Folks
Doing a sign off paragraph for this post is rather hard. I mean, honestly, I’m actually nervous about even pushing the publish button for this article. But it is something we as autism parents need to talk about.
We spent far too much time trying to place the blame on something when there wasn’t anything to actually blame. Instead, spend that time with your child. Show them affection if they accept it, find a way to share their world without agitating them, and just use that energy to be the parent that they need.
Again, I really hope I don’t upset anyone with the way I have written this. I’m still at the start of learning about autism, myself. But I just had to share this; it’s not your fault.
If you want to find out more information about Autism, or need more advice, I’ve personally found The National Autistic Society to be amazing. And if you find their advice helpful, you can always donate to them through my JustGiving page here.