Ever since my son was diagnosed with autism almost five years ago, I’ve had uncountable amounts of questions enter into my head. But there was one question that was more common than the rest: what if? I’ve had many different answers to the same “what if” questions, and none of them ever satisfied me. None of them ever gave me anything close to a resolution. Autism is such an emotional rollercoaster, which is probably why I’ve answered the same questions in many different ways.
What if we hadn’t followed the vaccination schedule? What if we had questioned it more instead of being so naïve about it? This question has brought a considerable amount of guilt into my life. I was the one who took him to most of his “well” visits. I was the one who held him down when he got all his vaccinations. If I hadn’t done it, maybe my son wouldn’t have autism.
What if I hadn’t let my son eat something straight off the table at a local deli. Something inside me gave me feelings of uneasiness after he did that. It was a few days later when he got a severe case of pneumonia that began his downward spiral into autism. If I had just kept him from doing that, maybe he wouldn’t have gotten sick like he did. And maybe he wouldn’t have autism.
What if I had begun his biomedical treatments sooner or done something differently? Maybe he would have recovered more quickly or more completely. Maybe he wouldn’t have continued to get sick for as long as he did. He kept on getting strep, and if I had done something differently, it wouldn’t have gone on as long. And if there was one small thing different about his treatment, maybe he wouldn’t have autism anymore.
These are just a few of the “what ifs,” I’ve dealt with since my son was diagnosed with autism. The biggest one, though, is: What if autism hadn’t invaded my life? There are so many answers, so many possibilities to this question. My final answer is the one that gave me the most peace. It allowed for me to rid myself of every other “what if” question I’ve ever asked myself and any guilt surrounding my son’s autism.
The answer is that I wouldn’t have the wonderful little boy that I have. I wouldn’t see the capacity of human diversity. And I wouldn’t have come to understand and realize the potential of love and compassion within the human spirit. That’s what I’ve learned from my son, and now that I think about it, autism and all the “what ifs” are almost like welcome invaders in my life because they came in and gave me everything wonderful that I have. It wasn’t until I realized this that I could proclaim victory over it all. And oh, what a sweet victory it was!
About the Author
Cody Jordan is the proud father of a 7-year old autistic boy and a 3-year old boy. He and his wife Jolene live in the Midwest. Connect with him on Twitter: @Autism_Papa.