(Inside: Could it really be my fault that my child is disabled? Am I to blame for my son’s autism or my son’s global developmental delay? Is this really my fault?)
When your children have disabilites, it tends to bring out the opinions from everyone you’ve ever met.
From people who believe that your children’s disabilities don’t really exist to people who immediately share their opinions about “over-medicating” (despite the fact that there are no medications for autism, dyspraxia, sensory processing disorder, or global developmental delays) everyone seems to have strong opinions when it comes to disabilities.
The most common comments that I’ve heard since getting our kids’ various diagnoses has been about the potential causes of their disabilities.
I get it, I really do. Some people feel much better if they have something to blame, and others just feel that it helps them understand more if there is a direct cause.
For me, considering the potential causes of their various disabilities simply leads me to one direct question.
Could it Be My Fault that My Child is Disabled?
They Both Had Premature, Traumatic Births
Both of my disabled children were born premature.
A-Man was 6 weeks early, and Baby M was 7 weeks early.
Could their prematurity have helped cause their disabilities?
In short, it’s possible (and likely).
When A-Man was only a few hours old they had to force a ventilator tube down his throat to help him breathe. Having that early experience could very well have lead to some of his sensory issues.
He was also born via an emergency cesarean due to a prolapsed cord, which means that his umbilical cord was coming out before he was which cuts off the oxygen. It could have ended with severe brain damage or death.
Cap’n M was born early via a cesarean because I had an infection in my uterus. He was pumped full of tons of antibiotics from the moment he was born.
Cap’n M’s global developmental delay went undiagnosed for way too long because too many people believed that he was simply “behind” because he was a preemie and “preemies catch up”. But are their births my fault?
They Weren’t Diagnosed Right Away
I understand that comparatively, we found the boys’ disabilities earlier than most.
That said, the diagnosis process was anything but quick.
We knew that there was something different going on with A-Man when he was 18 months. It took us two years to convince our doctor to agree to an evaluation because she was 100% convinced that it was only our parenting that was causing his delays.
He’s been in therapy now for a year, and we’ve gotten a host of diagnoses for him.
What if I had fought harder? What if I had him evaluated without our pediatrician’s referral?
Cap’n M, like I mentioned before, wasn’t evaluated until he was 14 months old because he was a preemie and we all figured he would “catch up”.
He was essentially a newborn for six months and he refused all solid foods and bottles until he was over a year.
If I had fought harder would we have gotten him eating sooner? Would his weight and development have caught up earlier? We’ll never know for sure the answer to these questions.
We’re constantly told that the earlier we start therapies the better, so are their delays my fault?
We Definitely Share Some Symptoms
The boys’ occupational therapist teases me because often when she brings up a new symptom that she’s noticing I’ll say something like, “oh, that’s nothing. I do that all the time”.
She’s fairly convinced that had I grown up now instead of in the 90s I would have likely been diagnosed with sensory processing disorder.
I have several foods I absolutely cannot tolerate, I eat in really strange ways, I can barely handle anything covering my feet, and turtlenecks make me feel like someone is slowly suffocating me.
While I’ve simply been called picky and weird my whole life, I can’t help but think twice when someone notices that A-Man eats the outsides of his chicken nuggets before the chicken part (just like me) or when Cap’n M needs deep pressure snuggles to calm down (like I do).
Cap’n M’s delay may have a genetic cause, and autism has a genetic link.
I had similar issues growing up, but does that mean that their disabilities are my fault?
(Pssst: Update, I am actually autistic. Check out my story here.)
Some Final Thoughts
It is my fault, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
It’s my fault that A-Man has to eat his foods one type at a time just like I do when I eat, just like it’s my fault that A-Man has big, almond-shaped, brown eyes.
It is my fault that Cap’n M refuses to be covered by a blanket at night, just like it’s my fault that he is so strong-willed and demands to get his way.
It’s my fault that my younger boys are sensitive to textures, just like it’s my fault that Mr. C is obsessed with reading.
My boys are who they are because of me, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with it.
Whether they got my strange eating habits, my passion for freshly baked cookies, or my book-nerdiness, they got it from me, and I couldn’t be more proud.