I'm certain I'm not alone when I admit there have been moments I think to myself, "If only I could step back in time just a bit and rethink that decision..." Oftentimes its those silly mistakes like a bad purchase, or perhaps eating a meal that made you feel sick afterwards...you know, nothing major. Still, after my son was diagnosed with Autism, I often found myself thinking back and wondering how we hadn't seen the sign before...and wondering where we would be if we HAD realized sooner what was going on with our little man and gotten him much needed therapy sooner.
When Shaun was just a little over a year old, I had to make a very tough decision to give my little man the MMR vaccine- the vaccine most commonly associated with Autism. Having had a brother who was likely on the spectrum (he passed before he could be diagnosed), Autism was always a worry of mine, so that particular vaccine was especially worrisome for these already always worried mama!! I debated long and hard and spoke with my son's pediatrician endlessly, and came to the opinion (which I still believe now) that if anything, the vaccine could potentially trigger something in a child that was already there...but not actually CAUSE the Autism. This doctor reassured me that a child as social as my son would NEVER be diagnosed with Autism. So we got him the vaccine and everything was absolutely fine- no regression at all at that point in time.
I've told this story before, and I'm telling it again now not to place blame for my son's Autism on that vaccine- I absolutely know for him it was NOT the cause, I only share this to explain my mindset, having being told by a trusted doctor that my child would NEVER be diagnosed. The reality is even at that point, he had a few red flags that we never even realized. A few months later, he did regress...we placed the blame on all the transitions in his life- Daddy coming home from a deployment, moving cross country, etc... I had done enough reading to know that this was to be expected even in typically developing children and held onto those words from our doctor, assuming he would catch up soon enough. At two years old, he still had not, and the diagnosis process began. Two months after his second birthday, we received the diagnosis: Autism. He started therapy almost immediately, and the progress was astounding.
Two years old is still quite early when it comes to getting a diagnosis, and we were extremely lucky in that, but it took time to stop that feeling of, "if only we'd figured this out sooner, how much farther would he be?". I will admit that even now those feelings sometimes creep in and I do at times wish we could go back...still, I now know that everything worked out the way it did and in the timing it did for a reason. We've been blessed with some amazing therapists and an awesome team that made a huge difference in my son's life, and had he gotten that diagnosis sooner, who knows who we would have ended up with? We may have never ended up meeting all these wonderful people who have come into our life because of Shaun's Autism.
So, if I could turn back time and do it all again...would I? Honestly, I don't think so... because despite the rough patches, there have been many wonderful moments along this journey as well. So, rather it be about my son's diagnosis, or another moment in time that I find myself wishing for a do over, I always try to remember that this was all part of God's plan, and even though those moments might have been bad, they happened for a reason.