Because genetics

YES!!!  This.  So much this.  I gave my child autism.  But not because of anything I did wrong.  Because genetics.

When Juliette was diagnosed with educational autism by the school district (her official medical diagnosis came later), I was eight months pregnant with Baby Roland.  I left the school meeting, got into my car, dialed Jacob’s number with shaky fingers, and when he answered, I sobbed “they said she has AUTISM.”

Autism.  That one word held so much weight.  It threatened to crush me.

I had known it was likely coming, but still….I’d been holding onto a glimmer of hope that it might be ANYTHING but autism.  Because autism….well, that seemed like the worst thing that could ever happen to your child.  The big, horrible, looming epidemic just waiting in the wings to snatch your child away.

I went through the next few months kind of in a fog.  The weight on my chest remained.  I lost myself in research.  I devoured every book in the library about autism and scoured every corner of the internet.  I read about many potential causes of autism, and many potential “cures.”  I read about diets, and therapies, and supplements.  I read about all the things I could have done differently in order to have prevented having my autistic child.  I felt….lost.  I felt…ashamed.  I guess I had caused this.  This big, horrible, awful thing in our lives.  I did this to my child because I am not a good enough mother.  I had failed her.

In my relentless researching, I had read all about Asperger’s Syndrome, and the books read like a guide to Lennon.  My son is definitely the highly gifted, “little professor” type with specialized interests.  So, now I knew I had two autistic children, and another likely on the way.  You see, I had read that boys are at a much higher risk of developing autism, and siblings of children on the spectrum are also at a much higher risk.  The weight grew heavier as my belly grew larger.

In the midst of all this fear and self-loathing, I had a baby.  When he was born, he opened up his huge brown eyes and looked right into mine.  He was beautiful.  He was perfect.  I looked at him, and wondered, “Are you autistic?  Have I failed you too?”

The next few months were a blur of sleeplessness, hormones, horrifically painful post-partum carpal tunnel syndrome, and post-partum depression.  The weight was still there.  I didn’t know if it would ever lift.

You know what saved me?  My children saved me.  I truly LOOKED at them…at who they are inside.  I simply couldn’t look at these beautiful, vibrant little human beings I had created and equate them with tragedy.  They are not anything to be ashamed of.  I hadn’t failed.  I was completely winning.

In them, I see so much of myself.  From Juliette’s highly selective and ritualized eating habits, to Roland’s timidness with strangers, to Lennon’s penchant for correcting people’s grammar.  They are definitely mine.  I started to realize that I HAD caused my children’s autism, but not because of my choices while pregnant, my parenting skills, or our diets.  None of that mattered.  I made them autistic, because I am autistic too.  The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.  We are a family of wonderfully quirky people.  We don’t need to be cured or “healed.”  We are perfect the way we are.  What my children need is love and acceptance, and they will ALWAYS get that in our family.  As for the rest of the world….well, I can only hope that the foundation of love and trust that we are building within our family will be enough to carry my children through the hard times.

And as for the weight?  It has lifted.  My heart only holds joy for my wonderful, magical children.

My children saved me.  And not only that, they helped me find myself.  I will be forever grateful.  ❤

{ Image is a photo of me and my three beautiful babies.  Lennon and Juliette are kissing my cheeks.  Roland is in my lap, looking straight at the camera. }

torres (30)


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