Swan Mothers

Discovering Ourselves through Parenting

Shame and Guilt in Autism Parenting

on November 3, 2014

I didn’t know so many things. I did not know that life could be difficult for a newborn. I did not know that a baby cried to tell me something. I did not know how to nourish a child who gagged from looking at food.

Parenting leaves long trail of pebbles of guilt and shame in its wake. Parenting autistic or challenging children leaves a trail of boulders when we lack knowledge and support for being the parents our children need.

Ignorance is Not Bliss

At one point, one of the most difficult aspects of parenting was feeding Daniel. It started from my first attempts to transition him to solid food. He was happy breastfeeding. Happy sitting in a high-chair at the table. When Ellana was his age, I began feeding her pureed vegetables, carefully introducing one at a time just as the baby books instructed. All went well with her eating.

Daniel, was not intersted in the pureed peas. Or the sweet potato mash. Or the apple sauce.

I decided he just was not ready to eat solids and waited a few weeks and offered some food again. Eventually, he ate small amounts of solids.

As he got older, his food repertoire became smaller instead of increasing. He was not growing along the growth curve the doctor’s office provided, but steadily dropping lower and lower in the percentages. I was scared and worried. What was I doing wrong? Why wouldn’t he eat?

Diagnosis, Not Solutions

Somewhere along the way, we realized he was autistic and obtained a diagnosis. This provided a piece of information, but not peace of mind. I continued to worry about his food intake.

At three and four years old, he would look at the plate of food I set before him and immediately begin gagging. When he refused to eat the foods before him, I would wrap my left arm around both of his arms and torso and use my right hand to shove food into his mouth. I hated doing this and was terrified that if I did not, he would starve. Sometimes, once he accepted that first bite of food that I forcibly held in his mouth, he happily ate all that was on his plate. This made me think I had to continue feeding him this way.

Finding a Better Way

Eventually, I learned how to feed him in a way that felt good for him and me. Read how in When Your Child Won’t Eat:  Help for Resistant Eaters.

Even though I now recognize that this was part of our journey, part of learning and growing together, I wish I had known then, what I know now. I wish I knew now, what I will know in a decade.

I share this story to encourage you to seek out options in difficult situations. There is a way to manage that is kinder to your child and less heart-wrenching for you.

Be gentle with your child. And be gentle with yourself.

Need help for escaping the yucky feelings?  We work on that in the Loving Life with Uniquely Magnificent Children teleseminar.

Clearing Guilt Over a Situation or Behavior

Two days after I published the above, I came across this wonderful method by Lilia Birem.  I am adding it here with Lilia’s permission.  Please check out her blog.

Did you do or say something that you regret and feel guilty about? Something you wish you could go back in time to undo, cancel, change?

1) Locate in your body the vibration of guilt, along with the picture of the situation stuck in your head that you wish to cancel, forgive, and transmute.

2) Pull that vibration and picture out of you and p…ut it all into a bubble.

3) Place your hands close to the bubble and start infusing it with the energy of Compassion. What color is compassion for you?

4) Continue to infuse your bubble with Compassion while repeating the name of God over and over again (pick the word(s) that resonates best with you).

5) Continue until the bubble pops! All is now vanished.

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