Last week, M turned 6. It was a wonderful day. It is our family tradition that on their birthday, the birthday girl gets a day with just them & me to do whatever they want, then meet up with the rest of the family for dinner and presents. Despite a little anxiety, over all M had a wonderful day. I can’t believe she is growing up so fast!
She has also been having a difficult summer. There is less routine in the summer with day trips, vacations, and daycare while I am at work which is also not a set schedule. She has been begging me to quit work and school and stay home with her and home school her…she is also terrified of going back to school since she has separation anxiety and social anxiety on top of all of the sensory and other issues she struggles with, with her Asperger’s and OCD.
She has really been regressing in her behavior (becoming more aggressive, tried to run away a couple times, becoming somewhat less verbal, more anxious, and losing eye contact). I believe we need to increase her medication (she has been on the same dose of Risperdone since late October) but her psychiatrist can’t get her in for another month. I feel so bad for her when she struggles this much. I also feel bad for my other daughters, especially A who is only 3 and takes a lot of the brunt of M’s verbal and physical aggression. (She has never seriously hurt anyone but she does pinch/hit A and me).
And all the time, but especially when things get tough, I can’t help but worry and look for all of the ways that I must have caused M’s autism. I mean, that’s what our society wants us to believe. Everyone points to ways it must have been due to choices the mother made, such as vaccinations, induced labor, diets including dairy and gluten…you name it. Forget that there is no substantial evidence to support any of this. I know that they do it to make themselves feel better. They can think they are a better parent because they make different choices, and can thereby prevent their child from being autistic. We like to think we have moved past the times when we said autism was caused by mother’s not being nurturing enough, but we are still blaming mothers, just in different ways.
But I digress…regardless of the fact that I know all of this, I still look and look and come up with all kinds of ways her suffering with these awful symptoms like anxiety, depression and dyspraxia are, in fact, my fault. I was very sick throughout the entire pregnancy. Did I not get enough of a needed nutrient? Was it the antibiotics I had to be on frequently, or the anti-nausea medication I needed to keep down any nutrients at all? Was it the decaf coffee that my doctor assured me was perfectly safe? Was it due to my prenatal and postpartum depression, or the antidepressants I was on when I was still nursing? So many ways I could have failed her, failed my family.
I want to stress that I do not see autism in itself as an awful thing, but rather the symptoms that cause her so much emotional distress. I do feel that I have done a lot. I recognized red flags early on, did a lot of research, consulted specialists, and worked and worked to find an answer, find therapies, find materials and tools and ways I could help her at home. I just wish there was more I could do, that I could turn back time and change something to make my baby happy, at peace with herself and the world rather than constantly battling with herself and her environment.