There has been discussion all over the ‘net and on discussion boards about what naturo-paths supposedly have suspected for a while: That there may be a link between Moms who have Fibromyalgia and/or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (as well as other immune-suppressing diseases such as Lyme’s Disease) and/or gastrointestinal problems and their children with Autism.
A couple of months ago I attended an autism support group meeting that had a licensed “naturalistic holistic homeopathic” doctor who was trained as an MD and then as a naturo-path and homeopath. During this meeting, it was discussed how of course no one knows what causes Autism Spectrum Disorder but that there are many various things showing strong links. The strongest evidence has been genetic, of course, but during this meeting other factors were touched on as well.
There have been links between mothers that have digestive issues, immunosuppressant diseases such as Fibromyalgia, other chronic illnesses that include pain and fatigue, have been on long-term birth control (because birth control pills affect gut flora), as well as neurological disorders and having higher rates of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Mothers who have Depressive and Major Depressive Disorders are also at a higher risk of having children with Autism. I had heard these things before, but this doct… naturopath believed it very firmly.
So I’ve thought about all of this and the details of the discussion that came up surrounding this stuff. There’s been some guilt, I admit, because mom’s feel guilty about everything and it’s ingrained in us.
If any of this is true then that makes Sweet Girl’s ASD my “fault.” Fibromyalgia. Gastrointestinal issues related to the fibro showing up as symptoms of Diverticulitis. Depression and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Some serious food allergies and contact allergies including reactive asthma. Having been on the pill, said to mess around further with gut health… just like antibiotics do, which I was on and messed with the pill which is when I got pregnant with Gracie. I feel like… how can I not feel guilt?
Obviously I had no clue. I didn’t even know what Autism was before I had children. It was some vague neurological disorder I had heard about but didn’t know what it “looked like” nor anything about it. All I knew was that Rain Man was a poor representation of it, and Special Education teachers often taught people with Autism Spectrum Disorder. I knew it could be “severe” but I had no idea what that meant. I had no idea what to look for when I had kids when it came to ASD.
Then the internet happened. Online communities. Birth clubs. Mothers in the birth clubs struggling to figure out what was going on with their children and then announcing fearful diagnoses. Then another birth club with my second child and it started again, only this time I noticed the same symptoms in my daughter as she got older. This? This was ASD? No… I don’t know ASD. But yes.
And of course the fear and fear-mongering about vaccinations because of that grand hoaxer, Andrew Wakefield. I always thought, “I have nothing to feel guilty about with vaccines. She showed signs of ASD long before she ever had a single vaccination. The signs never got worse with vaccinations but with emotional traumas.” There are qualities in her that are signs of ASD that simply character traits and personality traits in family members. Everything points to genetics. And yet.
And yet the circumstances also seem to line up with being ripe for “causing” her Autism. So again, how can I not feel some guilt? Then I feel angry for feeling guilty. Because if the odds were stacked against my kids (according to Autism Speaks and naturopaths) because of circumstances about my health then why don’t all of my kids have ASD?
I don’t know then if guilt is the right feeling, but there’s definitely some conflict. Maybe it’s guilt with some resentment for feeling that way. But it seems that when it comes to Autism and looking for a cause, there’s the insinuation that there’s fault. Fault of one of the parents, mainly the mother. And when there’s fault there’s inherently going to be guilt. Autism is a guilt-ridden disorder AND IT SHOULDN’T BE.
There’s simply no way out of it. Even if it’s based purely on genetics, which I believe my daughter’s ASD to be, well, where did her genes come from? Even if it’s a joint effort of genes from both sides of the family, I chose her daddy. See? Guilt.
When it comes to this disorder, you really have to make the decision to leave guilt out of it. Get angry, move on as a parent because its not about me, get motivated, get inspired, but put away the guilt. The guilt doesn’t do anything besides detract from what’s important. Why would I want to detract from my daughter? She’s really perfect.