As an autism mom, I'm grateful for a saying my mom used to tell me when I was feeling sad about something someone said about me. "You can be a sponge and soak in the bad things people say about you, or you can be an umbrella and let them slide right off." I try to remember this when I hear people make comments about my children, my parenting, etc.
Last night we were watching TV, and an ad for a law firm came on. They were saying that if you took Zoloft during pregnancy, that could cause birth defects, including autism..." Hmmm. Lets add that to the list of things that I did (the last two months while I was pregnant with Jason, when Kevin left for basic training). I am tired of these law firms looking for easy prey in parents of children with autism. Yes, we feel bad, and it is human nature for us to feel like it was our fault and wonder if we had something to do with why our children have autism. I was also overweight when I was pregnant with Caiti and Jason. According to some studies, overweight mothers cause autism. If that isn't the dumbest thing I've ever heard. What about the skinny mothers with kids with autism and the overweight mothers with "neurotypical" children.
In the 1950's there was a theory out that there that autism was a result of "refrigerator mothers." "The "refrigerator mother" label was based on the assumption that autistic behaviors stem from the emotional frigidity of the children's mothers. As a result, mothers of some children on the autistic spectrum suffered from blame, guilt, and self-doubt from the 1950s throughout the 1970s and beyond: when the prevailing medical belief that autism resulted from inadequate parenting was widely assumed to be correct. Some present-day proponents of the psychogenic theory of autism continue to maintain that the condition is a result of poor parenting. However, others merely point out that some conditions are perhaps psychological in origin rather than physiological, and that this is not necessarily a reflection on parenting skills." (wikipedia)
Vaccines...well there's another moral dilemma. So many people want to blame vaccines. I remember the feeling of dread I would get when I vaccinated Caiti. Garrett was showing signs of autism, and I had totally followed a vaccination schedule with him. I remember praying, "God, please don't let these vaccines hurt my baby." I also remember some study or another that said that vaccines caused autism, and feeling devastated and crying that I had done that to my babies. So with Jason, I decided to hold off on vaccines. Then, when he was 3 years old, he got the whooping cough. Also, he had just been diagnosed with autism, as well, so I had proof that his autism wasn't a result of vaccinations. I decided then and there that even if vaccines did cause autism, I would take that over my child dying from a dangerous disease/illness that could have been prevented if I hadn't been afraid.
According to Dr. Eric Courchesne, director of the Autism Center of Excellence at the UCSD school of Medicine, "UC San Diego has inched closer to the root causes of autism, identifying genes that appear to go haywire before a child is born, preventing the brain from developing normally. Neuroscientist Eric Courchesne says he and his collaborators found evidence that many genes basically misfire, producing an overabundance of brain cells in the pre-frontal cortex that affect a child’s social, language and communications skills. The problem begins during the second and third trimester of pregnancy, the period in which most brain cells are created. “Essentially, the wiring pattern for the brain goes wrong and you don’t get normal development,” (Gary Robbins)
So I have been trying to be an umbrella, and not a sponge. I'm trying to let all the billions of theories of what I did wrong as a mother roll right off my back; and as they roll off my back, I'm going to try my hardest to think about all the things I'm doing right to try and give my children a happy life.