Do You Have Any Regrets? My Story With an Autistic Son.

I love connecting with parents. I have a soft spot for parents who recently had a child diagnosed with a special need. I tell them to focus on the special, and not on the need.  

The question I get asked the most is if I have any regrets, or anything I would do differently. I know why they ask and I don’t mind at all. Why reinvent the wheel they are thinking. Tell me how to fix this ASAP.  

While I do have things I would do differently (I wrote about it in this post), I think those things are different from regrets. The things I would do differently are specific to my son and our situation, and of course come with the knowledge I have now, more than 15 years later.

To me, regret is guilt and remorse. I have had my fair share of short term regret. One, for example, when I dropped my son off at preschool the first day. The goal was to put him in a “typical” preschool so he may learn from the “normal” kids. When I left, my son was plastered to the window that faced the parking lot, screaming and begging for me to come back. I spent the next two hours until I picked him up in full regret that I was damaging him for life and he would never forgive me.

Another example of short term regret for me are the times I let Autism keep me from pushing my son to do something. I made a million excuses for behavior when he wouldn’t associate with other children or when he clung to me in situations in which he should have been independent. I don’t know why I did it. I was a mom so I was tired and sometimes it was the easy way out.  Sometimes I made it about me and I wanted to be my son’s friend and the person he needed the most in life, rather than figuring out what was best for him. Sometimes, I just didn’t think.

If you met my son today, I believe you would find him kind and polite. He has an amazing sense of humor and a brilliant mind. He has several teenager characteristics that make me smile. His room is messy, he’s addicted to his phone, and he eats everything in sight.  

When I look back on regrets, I very quickly change my thinking because I can’t change the past.  I can’t do anything about the parenting mistakes I’ve probably made. I can only look at him now and see the remarkable human he is and continue to push him to do his best and make the world a better place.  

When I meet with parents and they ask if I have any regrets, the answer is no. I did the best I could with the information I had. I tell them to strive to be the example to their children they want them to be when they grow up. They should spend time with them, let them succeed and definitely let them fail, so they can learn and grow and be remarkable humans like my son.

Pam is the Executive Director of the Orange Effect Foundation. She worked in the marketing field for the past 10 years, serving as Chief Operations Officer for Content Marketing Institute. During that time she found her passion to build and lead amazing teams because of the commitment of the staff at CMI. Pam also helped to create Content Marketing World, an event where over 3500 marketers come together annually to learn and network with the best and brightest. Pam's background is in social work, and she is raising a son with autism so the opportunity to start and direct this nonprofit is a dream come true. She has been a key leader in the CMI Golf for Autism the past 11 years and a champion for many other nonprofit organizations.