Feeling Guilty Over Causing My Child’s Disability

Recently, I was reading this review of Toni Braxton’s new memoir, and the reviewer appeared shocked that Ms. Braxton attributed her son’s autism to God’s payback for a prior abortion.

I don’t want to get into a discussion about God, and whether He would cause a child to suffer over a parent’s alleged mistake, but as the parent of a child with many special needs, I blame myself all the time.

I’m intelligent, and educated, and I have done much research and reading on the subject of mental illness. I have spoken to experts. I “know” that the fight I had with her father didn’t cause my daughter’s disability. I “know” that the single cup of tea I had when I was pregnant, didn’t cause it. I “know” that although I wasn’t as good at giving time-outs for bad behavior, an occasional lack of discipline didn’t cause it.

And yet….I can’t help but wonder if there wasn’t something that I did, or that I didn’t do, that made my child suffer. I “know” it is ridiculous, but it is also human nature for parents to blame themselves, despite being blameless.

So, I may not agree with Toni Braxton, but I understand where she is coming from.

Still Skeptical About Autism Vaccine Link?

A widespread perception that autism is caused by either childhood vaccines or by too many vaccines in one day has again been shown by scientists to have no link to incidents of autism spectrum disorder.

According to NPR, the study by researchers at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention measured antigens, the substance in vaccines that causes the body to produce antibodies.

Sandy Hook and Mental Illness: No Easy Answers

The intense grief we feel for the victims and families of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, has ignited, or re-ignited, two of our great national debates: the obvious one about gun control, and a less obvious one about the nature and treatment of mental illness.

(Photo credit: DON EMMERT /AFP/Getty Images)

As yet we do not know the exact nature of the illness affecting Adam Lanza, the perpetrator of this horrible crime. We do not know what efforts were made at evaluation or treatment. Nevertheless, the debate is on.

In our 24-hour-news-cycle world, even backlashes have backlashes. One of the first to enter the fray was Liza Long, with this essay entitled I am Adam Lanza’ mother detailing her struggles with her mentally ill 13-year-old son. If you are, as I am, the mother of a special needs child, it is impossible to read Long’s story without emotion.

And the backlash to Long’s story confirmed some of our worst fears, with a distinct air of “blame the mommy” about it.

Parents of special needs children are understandably worried that the school shooting will exacerbate the fear and suspicion already directed at children with autism or other mental illnesses.

This, even though medical experts discount any connection between autism and planned violence.

For some of us, it is an abstract debate over national mental health policy. For others, including myself, it’s much more personal.