I think all parents probably do this. After we got Cam’s diagnosis, and I started to learn about autism, I realized I had done things that hurt Cam without intending to. Here are some examples.
1) The Move -When Cam was two years old, we moved. Cam was a wreck. It took him two months to calm down. The change was overwhelming.
3) McDonald’s Playland -What a fun place to bring your child! Oops. This one took me a long time to figure out. Cam loved Playland, but only when it was empty or just a couple other kids were playing. He asked to go all the time, but half the time (i.e. when it was crowded) he had meltdowns. After the autism diagnosis, I got it.
4) Therapists #1 and #2 -Our first therapist had more bad ideas than good. The second was better, but still not great. Neither one realized Cam was autistic.
5) Target -I love Target. I can get everything I need for the house and some new pajamas, too! Cam hates the place. After the diagnosis, I understood; it was the crowds, the noise, the lights, the over-stimulation. Strangely, though, he doesn’t seem to mind Walmart.
6) Brunch -Any Saturday morning I could, I would wrangle up my husband and son and drag them to the pancake house. I was determined to make it a family tradition. Never mind the clanking dishes, crowded tables, and crying babies, we were going to have a nice time. Except we didn’t. Finally, my husband laid down the law: no more breakfast restaurants. Now Cam and Daddy make waffles at home.
7) The Holidays -I probably don’t need to explain this one, –the crowds, the tension, the loud gatherings–. Now, we keep it low key.
There are a lot more things I could list, but I don’t want to beat myself up too badly. Preschool, as you know if you’ve read the other posts, was a complete and utter disaster. But, as moms and dads we do the best we can. Autism is baffling, especially before you know your child has it. Even after you learn the diagnosis, it is mysterious. All we can do is keep learning and trying.