Parents of an autistic child will find themselves at one point asking questions like: What is the cause of autism? Did we do something wrong during pregnancy? Why did this happen to us?
These questions often go hand in hand with a sense of guilt. It can be very confronting to face sadness and disappointment towards the child you love immensely and care for deeply.
Let me tell you this: it’s perfectly normal to feel unhappy at times or even angry over raising an autistic child. It’s not an easy road and certainly not a fairytale. And it’s completely ok to ask questions, no matter what kind.
I know there have been many things reported about vaccinations allegedly causing autism, but let’s get this straight out in the open: vaccinations do not cause autism.
There is conclusive evidence out there that confirms that the idea that vaccinations can result in autism has absolutely no foundation or credibility.
Did my parents consider it nonetheless? Of course they did. Like many other parents, they received numerous links to articles pointing out the supposed risk of vaccinations. But upon further and lengthy research my parents concluded that -without a shadow of a doubt- vaccinations have nothing to do with autism.
For example, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) did extensive research and their conclusions on the subject are very clear. You can read it for yourself here.
So if vaccinations do not cause autism, what is the cause then?
Although there is still much to learn about the condition, the general consensus at this moment is the following:
There is no cause for autism.
Did you read that? There is no cause for autism. There is nothing you or anybody could have done that could have caused or prevented an autistic child. Nothing.
‘Research tells us that autism tends to run in families. Changes in certain genes increase the risk that a child will develop autism. If a parent carries one or more of these gene changes, they may get passed to a child (even if the parent does not have autism). Other times, these genetic changes arise spontaneously in an early embryo or the sperm and/or egg that combine to create the embryo. Again, the majority of these gene changes do not cause autism by themselves. They simply increase risk for the disorder.’
Does that sound like something you could possibly have had any influence on?
The same website lists some factors that might increase the risk of developing the disorder:
- Advanced parent age (either parent);
- Pregnancy and birth complications (e.g. extreme prematurity [before 26 weeks], low birth weight, multiple pregnancies [twin, triplet, etc.]);
- Pregnancies spaced less than a year apart.
But again; these are considered increased risks, definitely not causes. There are many couples who meet the above criteria and have non-autistic children and there are likewise many autistic children born of parents who don’t meet them.
So how did my parents do these past years? Even though they knew there is no direct cause, they still looked for faults within themselves.
‘Perhaps I didn’t eat right during pregnancy’, ‘Maybe something went wrong during labor’, ‘Maybe we should have started a family earlier’, ‘I think it runs in my family.’
The more they looked for reasons for my autism and asked themselves questions about how this could have happened to them, the more they realised that the answers to those questions don't matter.
I am their story now and they have made it their personal goal to raise me the best way they can.
There is no cause for autism.
But there a million reasons to love me, hug me and be proud of me.