When I Wonder if I Should Be Doing More for My Son With Autism


Right around the time my son Dominic was diagnosed with autism at 2 and a half years old, I became friends with a gal who had a daughter on the spectrum. The more I got to know her, the more I realized she and I had different ways of
helping our children. While she was a very nice person, she was using what I considered a “controversial” therapy on her daughter. I won’t go into specific details, but let’s just say it made me uncomfortable. Needless to say, we have lost touch with each other.

When we decided to put Dominic on Ritalin after he was diagnosed with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) at age 3, it was a really, really hard decision. I remember crying. I had a lot of doubts about putting him on the medication a such a young age. But, we saw such great results shortly after; he still remains on it to this day. I know not all parents would agree with our decision, but it is our choice.

Sadly, even within the special needs community there are parents who feel the need to judge other parents on how they are raising their children or the choices they make. An encounter with another special needs mom who challenged me after I told her what we were doing for Dominic at the time is eternally etched in my mind. She told me, “That’s it? that’s all you are doing?” I was so stunned by her rudeness that I had to walk away from her.

It would be wonderful if one therapy worked for every single child with autism, wouldn’t it? That is not the case. What works for one child, might not work for another, and that can make it extremely difficult to know what is the “best” therapy to try.

Since Dominic is terrified of large animals, I know “hippotherapy,” a therapy using horses wouldn’t be a good “fit” for him. I try really, really hard to not pass judgment on what therapies other parents use for their children with special needs because I wouldn’t want someone to pass judgment on me.

From time to time, I think of my friend who has the daughter with autism. Her daughter was talking and reading well before Dominic. I think sometimes, What if I used the same therapy my friend used? Would he be further along than he is?

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kathy and dominic  I guess I could spend all day feeling “guilty” for not trying a certain therapy that could help him face a challenge, but that would be counterproductive, wouldn’t it? I focus my efforts instead on what we are doing for him each day.

I love what Dominic’s private speech therapist told me at the end of one of his sessions several months ago. She said, “I have high expectations for Dominic.” We do too.

He has already surpassed many “hurdles” since his diagnoses, and I know there will be challenges ahead on this special needs road. But I know in my heart when I put my head down on my pillow to go to sleep each night, I have done the best that I can for Dominic, and that is enough.

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