Friday, July 6, 2012


I think there are two parts to each of us: who we are day to day, and who we are in our broader intentions. Second guessing comes when the smaller part—the one that is at the effect of everything—is afraid of the greater part that’s forging a new way.  -Sonya Derian

Good decisions come from experience, and experience comes from bad decisions.  -Unknown

How much time do you spend second guessing yourself?  Should you have spoken up?  Should you have gone?  Should you have called?  Should you have said “No.”  Should you have apologized? For a mental lightweight like me, the list is literally endless.  Even without the curve ball that is Autism, I was destined to a future on a pleather couch putting some therapist to sleep with everything I rue.  Lucky for you, instead of doing that, I started this blog!

I am Mr. Cliché, but I have to admit, I find it extremely hard to forgive myself.  It is really hard to let go of a past mistakes.  It is very hard to stop wondering “what if.”  It’s hard to not want to go back and meet myself in the past – and slap myself on the head.  Hard,

For my wife and I, raising a child with Autism has multiplied both the number and the significance of things we second guess.

To this day, literally to this actual day, we still second guess ourselves on whether we should have noticed Autism sooner.  How many times did we explain some of the early red flags away with “he just needs more time” or “all kids do that” or “it’s a second child thing?”  Thinking about those days and those times still gives me a pit in my stomach.  It still makes me feel like a fool. 

Now, don’t get all rational on me and ask what would be different today if we had noticed 12 days, 12 weeks, or 12 months before we actually did,  because the rational answer is most certainly nothing.   [Who asked you to crash the pity party with your fancy rational questions?]

[ While I’m writing in brackets, it seems like an apropos time for a PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT.  If you know anyone who has concerns about the development of a child, please read my some of my earliest posts on the First Signs we saw of Autism   WHAT'S IN A NAME  and OTHER SIGNSPlease.]

We find it almost impossible to believe that this cruddy Autism that is imposing its will on our dynamic little boy is entirely beyond our control.  Let me reiterate that:  It is IMPOSSIBLE TO ACCEPT that WE HAVE NO CONTROL over the uninvited, unwelcome and unwanted invader that had imprisoned my beautiful blue-eyed little boy in his own body.  Not only is it impossible to accept it.  We will not accept it.

One of the cruel tricks Autism likes to play is to be completely and totally unpredictable.  From one day to the next, or even multiple times within the same day, we can experience dramatic, radical shifts in the Little Man’s demeanor.  One minute he can be calm, serene, clear, and cuddly.  The next minute he can be wild, loud, unapproachable and flailing.  Such dramatic changes are not normally minute to minute, but  they can and do sometimes happen that way.

When you have a child who senses are extremely sensitive to small variations and who has severely impacted communication abilities, what do you do when you see a radical change in his behavior or demeanor.  Of course, you second guess yourself!

Should we have let him watch that show?  Should we let him repeat a Vivaldi song 50 times in a row?  Should we force him to finish his dinner?  Should we have reprimanded him for that outburst?  Should would let him eat a piece of cake at his birthday party?  Should we make him sit at his seat at dinner time?  Should we give in to his request to play Wii?  Should we give him a third-bath of the day?  Or shouldn’t we?

Of course, as soon as you think you found the answer to one of those questions, circumstances change and you second-guess the answer.

But, by my way of thinking, if you are confronted with a challenge that you have not yet solved, and you are not challenging your assumptions and second-guessing your decisions, you have given up.  For me, for this Little Man, for this family, I prefer the lonely, pit-in-the stomach- 3 AM staring at the ceiling search for answers -- to the serene resignation that comes with accepting the battle is lost. 

Now, pardon me while I go back to second guessing!


  1. You are obviously an incredible dad to your son. No doubt. I agree and love that statement about not challenging your assumptions and second-guessing your decisions that you've given up. So true. I think all parents second guess - I know that's the one area where I probably do it the most - it is magnified 100 fold in a parent with children with any kind of difference. I know I did. I still have to tell the story of my son - and will some day soon. I asked, and he's granted me the permission to do so.

    Keep at it. Most of all, work at that forgiving yourself thing. No one's meant to live with that burden.

  2. I love your honesty.

    As far as blogging vs therapy, the blog approach is waaaay more economical, trust me. ;o)

    "...Vivaldi 50 times in a row..." cracked me up. All too familiar.