When you told me about your child, when you first saw signs of autism in them right around their 2nd birthday, you looked at me with tears running down your face. You told me that was the first time you got him a diagnosis and how relieved you were finally to know what it was so you could help.
You then asked me, “Do you think my child was born with autism? Was it something I did? What could I have done differently?”
I didn’t know what to tell you at that time. It reminded me of a time before when I was again speechless when a parent had asked me what will happen to their child when I’m gone. I believe it’s these types of questions that are always the most difficult and most sensitive for our community to answer.
I remember that conversation like it was yesterday. How I started telling you there is no medical detection or cure for autism today and how if you’ve met one child with autism, you’ve met one child with autism. Then I started to tell you about my story. How I was nonverbal until I was 2 and a half, had regressed shortly after that and how I was diagnosed with autism at 4.
You see, back then, I’m sure my parents would have told you if you asked them the same question that it was something that happened to me while I was getting older. Today I can tell you that autism has made me the person I am, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. It wasn’t always like that, but it is now. I continued the conversation by giving you my card and telling you, although I’m not a scientist or an expert in the field, that regardless if your child was born with autism or not, the journey you are on right now is one countless parents are going through. Please don’t play the blame game with yourself. It will do you no good.
Repeat after me: it’s not your fault.
Every second you blame yourself for your child’s diagnosis is one less second you have to help them. For anyone reading this, some days are going to be tough (I know this from experience), but I promise you there are countless advocates out there — like me — who will be there to help you. Become an advocate for your child and always know that if you need someone, I’m only one message away on Facebook.
As you continue your journey, you’ll find there are many people like me who are willing to help you. Don’t close yourself off to us. Embrace “community,” and when the tough days come, know will get through them together.
A version of this blog originally appeared on Kerrymagro.com.
Lead photo source: Thinkstock Images