I was thrilled to discover I was pregnant and excited to feel my daughter growing day by day. But in the background, behind the anticipation of meeting her, lurked an uncertainty that some parents may recognize:
What if my daughter has Autism Spectrum Disorder?
What if she ends up like me? What if she is painfully awkward around others? What if she chews on her lips like I do? What if she is overwhelmed by everyday noises or upset by insignificant routine changes?
Then I thought…what if she enjoys creating something out of any material? Moved to tears by a beautiful song or captivated by a raindrop? Has the capacity to feel fierce loyalty for her loved ones? What if she ends up like me?
Even if I was not Aspie, there is still a chance that my children could be. There is no single genetic factor causing all Autism and according to studies, it can manifest spontaneously.To worry that my daughter would be horribly affected just by being my child, is a form of self-loathing that I DON’T want to pass down to her. I don’t know who she will be, but I do know that I want her to be confident in herself, whoever that is. And that starts by example. There are many parts of myself I don’t like and many things I can’t do, but I am no less than anyone else, and neither is anyone who reads this. We are all human, imperfect in our own unique ways.
I believe some of a child’s problems lie not in the child, but in their environment. We can reach our personal potential better in an an environment of acceptance and understanding, and that is what I hope to provide my child, regardless of who she becomes. I want my daughter to learn that errors are a normal part of growth and and mistakes can be opportunities. I want her to learn to never stop looking for ways to grow as a human being and better enjoy this world’s wonder. If she is not like me, I will try to the best of my ability to understand her point of view. If she is like me, she will have a mother who “gets” just how intense, disabling, fascinating and unusual this life can be for people like us. I can only imagine who she will grow to be, and I will savor watching every bit of her unique personality unfold!