I was in a meeting today at work, talking with an occupational therapist, a behavioural therapist and a psychologist and they said something which I think all parents of a child with autism should hear.
They said that typical children constantly seek out their parents' attention.
Children with autism do not.
I know that when Alex was diagnosed, I berated myself for not having played with him more, not having read to him more, not having forced myself into his world. He was happy playing on his own and so I let him be on his own. I felt proud of having an independent child.
And I blamed myself for not having done more.
But this is the key part: most parents don't have to seek out their children to interact with them. I shouldn't have been expecting myself to have done something no other parent would expect to have to do.
This one little statement goes a long way toward alleviating my guilt. No matter how often I told myself that it wasn't my fault, I guess a little part of myself still felt guilty.
It makes it even more critical to get an early diagnosis since it means parents will learn what to do faster and be able to help their kids.