The Guilt of Autism Parents

Updated: Jul 8, 2020

Feelings of guilt, doubt, and insecurities as a parent seem to be in the job description and are so common. Add to that to a diagnosis of autism for your son, and the guilt becomes overwhelming and frustrations can run rampant. Parents of children diagnosed on the autism spectrum can too easily fall into a perpetual state of self-doubt and guilt. It is time we learned to move past these feelings and appreciate everything we do for our children and accept it as enough.

First thing first, let me cleanse my thoughts. “I gave my son autism!” Whew, that was liberating. The first time I said it aloud or let, say for the first time admitting to others. No, I don’t believe that now, but I did for a long time. Even after I first started researching, the guilt was there.

For many of us, from the moment of diagnosis, we begin to search our memories for a cause. What mistake did we make during our pregnancy to alter our child’s brain chemistry? We wonder if it was our diet, those drinks we had before we learned we were pregnant, genetics, or possible environmental factors. We run through all the possibilities and scenarios of how we might have influenced this diagnosis. Guilt and fear bury themselves deep into our psyche.

Life keeps moving, and we struggle to find our ‘new normal’ in raising a child with autism. Then come the guilt and insecurities of how we are handling the diagnosis. We wonder if the doctors caught it soon enough or if perhaps we should have noticed it earlier. Then we could have started therapies sooner, had more time to prepare and provide our child with all that will benefit them in this world.

We worry about school. Are they in the right one? Do they offer the best therapies and proper support? At home, do we give our child the right supplements? Are they on the right diet?

We see other children on the spectrum and compare. When other children do things ours cannot, the burden of guilt falls heavier on our shoulders. Then we can spiral down into the place of questioning everything all over again, the therapies, the supplements, diet, schools, doctors, etc.

There never seems to be a break from worrying over what we could have and should be doing. Never a break from the fears that we are not doing enough, or the guilt that it was perhaps something we did or did not do, that caused this diagnosis.

The reality is autism happens. We don’t always know why or the best ways to help our children move about this world. We do the best we can, just like every other parent out there.

Research therapies, read stories of other children and how it has helped them, and then make a decision that feels good for your family. Try different diets and supplements, and take note of what helps your child feel more comfortable and at ease. Find the school in your community that fits best for your child and your family. It doesn’t have to be the one with high-tech equipment and most current therapy, but the one where your child is comfortable and happy.

Most importantly, give yourself a break. This most likely is not a world you stepped into knowingly, and you are learning as you go. Know that you are doing your best and when those feelings of guilt come over you, when you question if you are enough for your child, know that the answer is yes. You are what your child needs.

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