Genetics and a Trigger

When Liam was first diagnosed with autism, there was still a lot of “blame” for “getting autism” being placed on vaccinations. Even our former pastor claimed that his child was “normal” and then after getting his first year’s shots, started to have autism. As such, when Liam was first diagnosed, I felt guilt –  I would think, what had I done poorly as a mom to cause my son to be autistic?

Later, I read that an autism spectrum disorder was thought to be caused by a genetic predisposition, plus an environmental trigger. We now know about the genetics – I will talk about this a bit tomorrow. But what was the trigger? A trigger is something a bit traumatic that “activates” the autism, as I understood what I was reading. This is not a universally accepted cause. Moreover, I will never know what the trigger was, if this is what happened. Here, though, I will share some thoughts. I don’t know if thinking about this helps, or exacerbates the guilt. What I do know is that I can share these things and if they can inform someone else, that may prove helpful.

Possible Trigger #1: When I was just in my first trimester, we vacationed out in Colorado and Wyoming, where the elevations are higher. Of course, traveling to these places alone was not the trigger, but maybe it was the airplane ride, although again, probably not because there are already warnings about this that do not apply to where I was in my pregnancy. But I also traveled up Pike’s Peak. I reflect upon the warnings in amusement parks about heights and pregnancy and wonder if this was not the trigger.


Possible Trigger #2: This one is more likely. The first was me just thinking too much, honestly.

At 20 weeks, I went into preterm labor – light, but labor nevertheless. I had the flu and got dehydrated. I was also not slowing down… there’s that. We went to the hospital and they gave me an allergy medicine that also has the effect of stopping preterm labor, in some cases. It did. I was on bed-rest from Thanksgiving through his birth date in March. But certainly the medicine and the whole experience could have been the trigger. I wish I had taken the recommendation to drink more water and slow down. Again, this is second guessing myself. At the same time, I did slow down more with my second pregnancy – just to be sure.

Ultimately, I don’t know how reliable this research is, but it seems to fit our situation. At the same time, I hope that you see throughout my posts this year that, really, I would not change a thing about Liam. He is perfect the way he is. Odd, though, how I let how others’ feelings about autism get into my head, even now.

OLW: Share

In the past, I have spoken locally and written a bit about being a parent (and educator) of three children, all with different abilities and approaches to how they see the world: through Asperger Syndrome (or now just ASD), through ADHD/ODD, and through Adoption. I have always gotten positive responses about what I have written and encouragement to share more. This year, I will embark on using this platform to share about the way we have learned about the world through the eyes of our precious kids.

I am hopeful to start in the past, working to remember and share experiences and, hopefully, insights about why various things happened the way that they did. This is by no means “the answer” or “the right way” to do things. In fact, we often learned the hard way, or through trial by error. Maybe, in reflecting upon some of our history, we can help someone in their present or future. Mostly, it will just be an opportunity to record the past, as the kids are growing up too fast.


I hope that you will stop by from time to time to check in on this journey. Please leave comments about your own experiences or thoughts. I will try very hard to write every day. I will definitely be writing on Slice of Life Tuesdays and for the March challenge. I want to make sure that I write to preserve all that I have learned, and to share with those generous enough to listen.

Thank you and Happy New Year!