I recently met a mother whose child had been diagnosed with autism only weeks before. I recognized in her many of the feelings of shock, denial, and grief that Seymour and I also experienced when Leelo was first given his label.
But then she started talking about how she blamed herself, and wondering what it was that she had done, or how she had failed as a mother, and in so doing had caused her son's condition. Her attitude was surprising but far from uncommon, so I sent her the following email:
I was just re-reading Overcoming Autism (a great book, probably the best parent guide on the subject IMHO) and came across a passage that made me think of you, as when I met you it sounded as though you were struggling with your feelings about the possible roots of your child's autism:
"It's natural to wonder if you could have prevented your child's autism, but you need to remeber that guilt doesn't help your child. There is no evidence pointing to a parental cause, and while there may be some type of environmental factor to blame, that's not known yet. Don't waste your time torturing yourself with vague fears when you could be swinging into action."
I hope you are able to cut yourself a break. Your life is complicated enough without beating yourself up on top of everything else.