There’s a lot of guilt out there in the Spectrum. A lot of guilt. Reading through a lot of blog posts I cannot help but notice many with the themes that shout: “Did I Read Enough?” or “How Did I Miss The Signs Of Autism?”, “Did I Cause This?” or the near-universal “What If I Had Only…”
I am not here to bash parents; if you have read my other posts, this blog is intended to highlight some of the many inspiring stories of families affected by Autism, or highlight people on the Spectrum who are interesting and are worthy of notice. For many parents blogs are an outlet for many them to reflect, vent and share their emotions and experiences.
Maybe I just don’t get the sometimes self-loathing feel after reading some of these posts. Or I myself have not been able to be that open about my emotions (literally speaking, that is). After reading some of these posts, I often catch myself saying, “Aaand….now what?”
“Hey, Ed: your child has just been diagnosed with Autism! Now what are going to do?”
“I’m going to write a blog and expose every raw nerve I have to complete strangers! And then I’m going to second-guess every moment since my child was conceived!”
No. No I’m not.
We can lament and ruminate over all the ‘what if’s’ but that is self-serving at best, in my opinion. If we could miraculously go back in time and change one thing that may have triggered Autism to enter our lives, would we do it? What would changing that one thing do to every single event that followed it? Not to put too fine of a scientific/philisophical point on it, but I personally believe in the Butterfly Effect; a minute pebble thrown into the proverbial lake of life causes a ripple to cascade outward. A different pebble thrown in the exact same spot and at the exact same time as the first pebble creates a ripple of different dimensions.
My point here really is: Carpe Diem. Live in the now. Live for today. Don’t let yesterday take up too much of today. Tomorrow is not guaranteed to any of us, except as a dream we hope to live in, one day. Today, just as we plan and hope for progress for our children’s futures, he/she would not be where they are, or who they are, unless we had done whatever it is we did exactly when we did it. Dwelling on the possibilities of the past is only useful, I think, if we plan on living the unfulfilled life.
Our children are exactly where they are meant to be. And so are we. Our children have grown because we started Early Intervention when we did, or started/stopped a medication when we did, or fought for things in their IEPs when we did. Our lives don’t line up from A to Z; there is no linear pattern to how we proceed through it. The real cause and effect is that we did something at all, not if we did enough. The real cause and effect is how we act now for the benefit of our children, not how we judge those actions years from now. Our child may grow by leaps and bounds by what we do with them today. Can we/they do more? Always.
Thank you for indulging me in voicing this observation and existentialist opinion. And a sincere thank you to parent bloggers everywhere who provoke thought and invite others to get a glimpse into their world.