I Blamed Myself For My Son’s Autism

When I found out I was going to be a father, I was beyond excited.

My wife and I had been trying to conceive for years before she got pregnant.

So when she told me I was going to be a father, I wanted to shout it from the rooftops!

I made sure to call my wife everyday at work to make sure she ate lunch… I’m sure I annoyed the heck out of her.

When we found out that we were having a boy, we started to plan everything. We we began painting the baby room with blues and silvers, and putting the crib together.

I started to think about the years down the road..joining little league, scouts, soccer, pee wee football, hockey, and racing go karts.

I wanted my son to be able to do what ever he wanted to. I didn’t want to hold him back from any of his dreams.

When Parker was born you couldn’t wipe the smile off my face.

Not only was he adorable, but he had awesome hair!

As he got older, I noticed that he wasn’t progressing in certain areas as well as his cousin who is six months older…mainly in the area of speech.

The doctors told us “he’s a boy and boys talk later.”

But his cousin is a boy.

I was told that we should put him in daycare, so he could learn to talk from other kids.

I was told it was just a speech delay.

I wanted to believe it all.

I put him in speech therapy thinking he would come out talking in six to eight weeks.

Boy was I wrong.

When he didn’t start progressing in speech therapy, I started blaming myself, and worse blamed my wife.

It’s OUR fault he doesn’t speak because we didn’t put him in daycare, even though we didn’t have the means to afford it.

It’s MY fault he doesn’t speak because maybe I didn’t sing to him enough or perhaps I sang the wrong songs.

It’s MY fault he doesn’t speak because maybe I didn’t read to him enough.

It’s MY fault he has nonverbal autism.

When I realized he had autism I was crushed.

I didn’t even realize what autism was. I didn’t know anything about it. After some research I became sad and depressed.

Sad that my son may never play sports, drive a car, get a job, or get married.

But, the thing that hurt me most was realizing that he may never say “Dada” or “I love you!”

After finding out that only my genes could’ve affected his autism I still continued to blame myself.

It took a long time for me not to blame myself, my wife, or anyone else for his autism.

I wanted to know why he had autism.

I wanted to blame someone, and that someone was me. I’m learning to cope with my self blame as time goes on, but a little piece of it will always be there.

I’m learning to shift my blame to hope and happiness for Parker.

My wife, being the amazing woman she is, kept researching autism.

She came across a Facebook Page that shared a story about a boy with nonverbal autism, Cooper. She kept telling me stories about Cooper, his speech device, and all the other kids on Finding Cooper’s Voice and Coop’s Troop.

Kids that were very similar to Parker.

Medications that were working for them, and that we should talk to our son’s doctor about it.

Eventually, I started to follow Finding Cooper’s Voice as well.

Watching and reading about other people’s stories, the way the kids progressed, gave us hope.

Hope that Parker may play sports.

Hope that he may say Dada.

Hope.

I am now part of the Coop’s Troop Dads page where I can share my challenges, hopes, and wins with other Dads that truly understand.

I may never hear “I love you”, but I know he loves me.

I continue to have hope that I will hear those three words one day.

All you need is hope.

So, have hope, keep fighting, never give up, and do the best you can.

Your best is enough.

Written by, Ryan Lefevers

I am a father of two boys (Parker and Dustin), and husband to my beautiful wife (Kristin) of 13 years (19 years together). My oldest son, Parker, will be five in a couple of months, and my youngest, Dustin, just turned two. Parker is diagnosed with autism, ADHD, and is nonverbal.

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Finding Cooper’s Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you’re never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village….all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to our journey. You can also follow us on Facebook, subscribe for exclusive videos, and subscribe to our newsletter.

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