A little history into the initial discoveries of Autism

I’ve read a lot of material about autism and the varying degrees of autism and there is certainly a lot of studies and research done today due to the extreme rise and alarming rates. Autism was on the scene and doctors have studied it since the 1940s. The 2 primary doctors that led to the discovery of Autism were from Austria who developed early theories about it.

Dr Leo Kanner was born in 1894 in a small Austrian village and received his medical degree in 1921 after spending time in the Austrian Army during WWI. He was educated at the University of Berlin and emigrated to the United States in 1924 where he began his medical career. He is credited in the academic world as the first child psychiatrist and was the founder of the first academic child psychiaty department established at Johns Hopkins University Hospital and published his first book on the subject, Child Psychiatry in 1935. He wrote his first paper after extensive research on the early evidence of Autism in children in 1943 around the same time a fellow colleague was doing his own research in Austria, Hans Asperger. Dr Leo Kanner led a distinguished medical career and was a pioneer in the early studies of autism and did a lot of work for the field of child psychiatry which has led to a whole field of study which is crucial to continuing studies of autism. He died in 1981.

Hans Asperger was born in 1906 and was educated in Vienna and began his medical career at the University Children’s Hospital in Vienna. He also served during wartime during WWII as a medical officer in Croatia. He married in 1935 and had five children. He lost his younger brother in the war. He started his research on Autism in the early 1940s and published a paper of his findings in 1944 on symptoms of autism. He had various positions as lead medical director and was appointed chair of Pediatrics at the University of Vienna which he held for 20 years.

Dr Asperger conducted investigations on hundreds of children and studied their behaviors and their abilities to talk. He narrowed his focus on a smaller population for his study to check for patterns of forming friendships, the ability to conduct conversations, a preoccupation with repetitive interests, lack of empathy and self esteem issues. Based on his testing and research he was convinced these children had autistic symptoms and was convinced they could use these “special talents” into their adulthood and experience success. Dr Asperger championed the cause for these children affected and felt no matter how bad their struggles were to them and their caregivers in their childhood they were able to translate their experiences to great achievements into their adulthood. It was theorized that Dr Hans Asperger could also have been autistic as a child as he exhibited the same patterns he theorized about. Dr Hans Asperger dedicated his life to his studies relating to Autism and was a significant contributor to the field and to understanding children and adults affected by this condition. He also was a pioneer in the study of autism and made so many important contributions that are well recognized today.

Lorna Wing, a British researcher actually popularized the term “Asperger’s syndrome” in her writings in the early 1980s and a lot of Dr Asperger’s work was tranlated to English and widely adopted in the early 1990s when Asperger’s syndrome was recognized as a formal diagnosis throughout the world. This all happened after Dr Hans Asperger died in 1980.

These doctors were so important in the studies of autism and the doctors of today study their findings and use their conclusions in their own research. Since Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome is becoming more common today there is a big demand for medical doctors specializing in this field of study because it effects so many children.

It seems we only scratched the surface of autism and a simple phrase that was developed by Dr Leo Kanner based on a paper he wrote states it simply as “Aloness and sameness” which can describe many children affected by it.

As a parent of an autistic child we are always challenging the doctors for answers and trying to determine how we can help our children grow and develop and get thru these symptoms that so effect them in every phase of their life so they can grow and lead happy and productive lives and establish healthy relationships and develop positive self esteem and use their condition to positive use so they can achieve success and happiness.

Edward D. Iannielli III

Family vacations are fun!

I promised my son we would go on a family vacation before he started school and I can’t let him down as I always keep my word. My wife was not able to get the weekends off from her job so we are going for 2 days but 2 days is better than no trip at all. We decided on New England because it’s a nice trip and Great adventure because Matthew loves the park though he’s only been to the one in New Jersey so this is exciting because it requires more driving and this will be his first time in Massachusetts. He always enjoys our family trips and it’s a nice break before school starts. We plan on the amusement park one day and the waterpark the next day depending on the weather. I have my Tom Tom so I’m already to go and it will be the longest trip I am making with the new car. I’ve only had it for 3-4 months and I already have 6,000 miles on the car. I guess I am breaking it in. I understand Nissan’s last a while so I’m not worried.

The best part of the trip is the ride and anticipation. We will be driving thru Connecticut to I-95 North and probabaly stop for a few restroom breaks and a bite to eat. It’s always fun going on a road trip and Matthew always keeps himself buzy and I bring some of his cds to listen to. Unfortunately I don’t have the entertainment center where you can pop in a dvd but I guess we won’t be on the road that long. Maria also likes to share the driving if I need a break. My mother-in-law was invited to go with us but she will be babysitting the cutest little filipinas girl and her brother at home so she will have to stay home. She is part of the family and is always invited but this was kind of spur of the moment. I would like to go on a real vacation but will have to save that for another time as we do have to live on a budget and we are not quite ready for the Walt Disney World vacation yet. I have my camera so I plan to take some pictures and will try to relax a little bit. It’s nice to get away sometimes as we all need to recharge our batteries and spend quality time with our family. Matthew realizes this is important and he always enjoys these times. We usually like to drive down to Williamsburg, Virginia and Virginia Beach as that is a great family destination and it isn’t that far a drive. It is 8 hours and just about long enough for me. When I was younger and single I used to drive down to Florida in 22 hours but with a family I believe we would have to do it in 2 days and I’m not quite ready for a trip like that and if we were going to Disney we would probabaly want to fly.

I am all packed and ready to go and just waiting for our darling son to wake up and for Maria to get him ready and fix him a breakfast before we head out. I also have to run a few errands before we leave. I believe Matthew is now at an age where he will remember these trips which is good as memories of times with family on trips are very important and I believe autistic children have the same emotions and feelings that other children have. We just need to help Matthew in instances where he feels overwhelmed as he can not usually tolerate large crowds and loud noises so we must always be careful when we encounter those types of situations as it is one of the worst places to have a meltdown. It’s happened before and I have been discouraged taking him to crowded places but it seems we would always have to go offseason to avoid the crowds and that is not possible as it means we would have to arrange for Matthew to be out of school and we would never do that. So we sometimes just have to bite the bullet and hope that he can tolerate the crowds for the day. We also have to keep a firm grip on him as he loves to run and we need to always keep him in our reach. The sad part of these trips means the summer is coming to an end and before you know it the colder weather is upon us. The month of September now means 3 things to me. The first is Matthew goes back to school, The second is our wedding anniversary and the third is that horrible fateful day of September 11th 2001 which is one of the worst days we have witnessed as a country and a world. As we are going on a family trip I will only think of the positives and having a fun time with my wife and son before he starts his school year again. Our son is now moving on to middle school! Let’s enjoy our trip! As I plan to leave I am preparing for my son’s obvious question, “Are we there yet?” and my response, “We haven’t even started yet, Everyone ready, Let’s go! Oh I have to fill up first at the nearest station. Anyone need a drink for the road or a snack” We heard it all before. See you when we get back!

Edward D. Iannielli III

Preparing Matthew for a new school year 2009-2010

As September approaches we are set for a new school year for our son. Matthew will be starting a new school at Salk Middle school after spending 4 years at his previous school of Summit Lane. It will be a new change for him and we will have to transition him into the new school with lots of assistance. You really don’t realize how many people are involved in your child’s education until you attend a board meeting and see all the attendees. As Hillary Rodham Clinton has said profoundly in her writings “It takes a Village to raise a child.” It is true that there are so many people involved in the educational process of your child. We are eagerly awaiting Matthew’s transition and hope that it will be a smooth one as we know he resists change and this will be very new to him.

We are hopeful and we know our son will be fine as we have to believe that and also let him know that he should believe that as well. Matthew is very bright and he is aware and knows that he is starting a new school. He has expressed sadness in that he will miss his classmates but it should be a step up for him and hopefully it will be more challenging to him so he will be more involved and interested. In his former school he felt like he was held back and that would explain his regression and poor behavior. Matthew needs a support system and structure and a one on one aide to help him. He will not have the benefit of being mainstreamed as he still needs individualized attention and I’m in no rush to push him. I want him to gradually be exposed to a larger class setting and personally I feel the more intimate the class size the better it is for him. In time hopefully he will be mainstreamed but for now we want him to feel comfortable.

I know when I attended school I had 50 kids in my class and I was shy but it was a different time and I had to manage. I was also lucky because I had devoted teachers that recognized my weaknesses and they worked together with my mom to help me. This is what we want for Matthew. We want dedicated teachers who will recognize Matthew’s strengths and weaknesses and advise us so we can develop a plan to help him and address the weaknesses and reinforce his strengths. We want Matthew to attain his grade level and exceed it if possible. As parents we always want to see our children excel and do their best and we want them to also have an active social life and benefit from full participation. School is a setting where sometimes we have difficult days or anxiety and we want Matthew to feel relaxed and not be burdened with worries or fears. Sometimes I wish I could be there with him in spitit and help guide him through the difficult moments but that is why they have teachers and we have to rely on them and trust them because they play a significant role in our son’s education. We are encouraged with the new school Matthew is starting and will maintain regular communication with the staff to make sure Matthew is transitioning well and we will take one day at a time and always talk to our son and make him aware that he should not be afraid to share his feelings as we need him to express how he is doing and how his classroom experiences are. We hope he will have classmates that are on his level and will bring out the best in him. We want Matthew to try to grasp the concept of learning to work independently and also cooperatively and to try to learn to take initiative and not be passive.

We also want Matthew to make progress and to feel confident and develop his self esteem. We don’t want to see poor behavior and we don’t want to see any suspensions. That was my biggest complaint about Summit Lane was that the principal of the school, Dr. Sally Evans treatment of Matthew knowing he is autistic was incomprehensible and very frustrating as she suspended my son from school and the bus at least a dozen times which to me makes me feel she is inept in her treatment of special needs children and she should be disciplined for her poor treatment of a special needs child who needs to have his self esteem built up rather than torn apart. I am very optimistic for Matthew now that he is no longer in her school. She was not understanding and she exhibited a mean disposition.

Maria and I welcome the new school year and we anticipate positive growth and development from our son and I will chronicle his experiences on the blog and allow him to write as well so you can get to know Matthew as he is very special and you all will grow to enjoy getting to know him. He loves to write as much as I do and probabaly more so as writing for me is relatively new. I was never much for writing in the past but as I said before I am writing for my son because he means the world to me!

Good Luck Matthew in the new school year! We are behind you and will support you every step of the way! Just remember to have patience and as my dad would always say to me Be Cool, Calm and Collected and always bloom where you are planted. This was always sound advice from my dad.

Love You always!

Edward D. Iannielli III
Maria Jesusa Gonzales Iannielli

Drawing upon my experiences so I can help my son.

I try to think back to my early days as a young kid and my memories are tested and I can sometimes remember a little bit and the earliest memories I have is of a 5 year old boy feeling sometimes alone but loved and treated well as I had wonderful parents and at that time 1 younger sister, Kathy; as my baby sister, Joan was not yet born. I enjoyed watching baseball with my mom as I enjoyed viewing the games and hearing the broadcasts on the tv. I also enjoyed playing with my etch a sketch and lite brite games. I was also fond of the color by number sets that my dad would help me with as my dad was quite an artist. I loved riding my bicycle and buying packs of baseball cards. I enjoyed when mom would sing songs to me and I enjoyed watching the vatrolla spin as we listened to fun music of the 60s. I really enjoyed listening to music. I was quite a natural at baseball also and played shortstop and occasionally second base.

The one thing that sticks out however which really affected me all throughout my life was my feelings of insecurity and inability to overcome my shyness as a child. I tended to withdraw quite a bit and as I think about it I exhibited similar characteristics to children on the autistic spectrum. I felt safer when I avoided others and withdrew a lot into my own world. I was never diagnosed as autistic so I can not make that conclusion but I do see the many similarities with autism and shyness. I don’t really know why I suffered so much from it but as I matured and started to feel more comforatable I somehow found a way to manage with my shyness and I am encouraged for my son to be able to do the same when he grows making the transition from childhood to early adulthood.

I had terrible feelings of guilt when I found out my dad committed suicide and this was very traumatic to me and I found myself retreating back to those ways I did as a child and feeling as insecure and shy as I did back when I was a kid. My dad was a strong man who worked very hard in his life and I feel very sad that his life came to such a tragic, violent and sad end. I have felt an incredible pain and sadness about his suicide. I also felt a terrible guilt that I could never really overcome my shyness and insecurities. I always knew I was kind, caring, compassionate and sensitive in my approach to life. My parents provided me with all the love and support I could ever ask for and they were always there for my sisters and I and I feel very blessed for that as I was very fortunate. I only share the pain of being shy here so I can liberate myself from this self imposed isolation I created for myself and remove the burden that weighs on my mind so I can truly heal and reach out to others who live in isolation as I feel we are all human and have frailties and hopefully by my reaching out I can help someone who is going through the same pain and isolation I have.

I am a very introverted person who has a drive to do my best and I feel we are all here to do our best and make the world a little better place with how we touch one another. Life is only temporary and it seems like a big mystery and we are all doing our own things in hope that we accomplish what we had hoped and shared our lives with the special people we care for in hopes of being blessed with the joy of sharing new life and if we are blessed to live long enough and experience all we had hoped then we can appreciate all the memories and special moments of our life before we go to our next journey.

I’ve done some research to see if there is a link between autism and shyness and I have found some major similarities between the two. With shyness it is a condition that causes withdrawal and isolation that becomes an integral part of your life. As a result of our shyness withdrawing provides a safe haven as it is something that is familiar and allows us to not feel overwhelmed. There is no cure for shyness and you can go for all the psychotherapy and prescribed medication to no avail. Shyness is something that we live with for the rest of our life and we hope to accomodate and adapt so we can function and make a life for ourself.

So I can relate my experiences of being shy and know that it is somewhat common and probabaly one of the most crippling of emotional conditions so that is why most who are affected by it live with humility and never really talk or open up. I certainly don’t want to elaborate about what it is like to be painfully shy but I wish to understand the connection between my mind’s hardwiring and my son’s mind’s hardwiring.

My son who is autistic also has issues that he deals with on a daily basis and we are always trying our best to help him and to encourage him. Matthew has difficulty with change and seeks a similar and familiar routine every day. If any one thing is changed he will have a very difficult time and will experience a complete meltdown which can really test your patience and make the day start off on the wrong note. We try to make sure we have a list that Matty follows in the morning that he can feel comfortable with and follow with ease. Once we go through everything on the list and he finishes his breakfast and takes his medicine we make sure he gets on the bus and gets a good start to his day. When he is in school we are always concerned that he will cope well and manage to follow the rules and listen intently in the class and have a good relationship with his teacher and his classmates.

After Matthew completes his school day Maria makes sure he spends the appropriate time to complete his homework assignment and she reads through the teacher’s comments to make sure Matthew managed well in the day. If there were reported incidents of trouble or inappropriate behavior we then make sure we discuss it with him and make him understand that he must follow the teacher’s instruction and make sure he does not repeat the inappropriate behavior or he will be punished and have his priviledges taken away.

After Matthew completes his assignment and if he had a good day in the classroom and was cooperative with doing his assignment then he is rewarded by being given the opportunity of doing what he likes. If it is nice weather and the sun is still out then Maria will take Matthew for a bike ride in the neighborhood or they will go to Eisenhower Park to ride for a while. Matthew loves to ride his bike and it is a great form of exercise for him. When Maria and Matthew return then they sit down to dinner. If I am home from work then we all sit to dinner as a family. If I am working late then Maria will make me a hot plate. The main thing is that Matthew eats a nourishing meal. Matthew does test Maria’s patience though with his fussy eating habits because he tends to eat more frozen foods or fast foods then home cooked meals. This is something we are trying to work on as we are having a hard time getting him to eat well balanced meals and we feel we need to seek the aid of a child nutritionist who can guide us and not just give general advice because we’ve been there and it has not helped.

Once Matthew has finished his dinner he then has some fruit and then is granted computer or tv time. He tends to like going on the computer and he does pretty much the same routine of creating lists and favoriting road signs or cartoon clips. He loves to use word to create his lists and excel to create spreadsheets of his calculations. He also likes to play Rhapsody and create music lists. Another activity he enjoys is putting his lego blocks together and create towers like he used to do with Pop but he senses the loss and really has not done it in a while as it makes him feel sad that Pop is not here to help him. He also likes to work on his puzzle. He keeps himself busy and tends to follow this same regimen day in and day out as this is familiar to him and within his comfort zone.

We then make sure Matthew gets to bed at a reasonable hour so he can wake up early to start the school day. Matthew does have a difficult time in getting ready to sleep as it is quite a struggle to get him to sleep by 9:00 pm which is the desired time as we wish for him to get a good 8-10 hours of restful sleep. He will usually not get to sleep until about 10:30 which is quite late so we have to change our clocks to trick him and make sure the tv is off. This has only worked once or twice as he is too smart for that trick.

I certainly can see Matthew making progress but he is isolated as I was because he is usually by himself and we want him to have friends and get involved in group activities. That is why we are happy he attends day camp because at least there he does get social integration which is so very important. I want Matthew to have more experiences with other kids and hopefully as he matures he will desire to participate more in outside activities but I have my concerns and worries as naturally a dad would for his son. I am a proud father and my wife and I want the best for our son and we want him to be happy and have social connections as that is very important in his development. I wonder if I got him a dog as a companion if that would help him. I certainly wish we could have another child but the age gap is getting wider and my wife and I are not kids anymore.

All I know is our son is a wonderful child and he has his struggles and moments where our patience are tested but we love our son and wish for him to have many wonderful experiences and joys and hopefully meets many friends in his life and enjoys much success. We are preparing him for a new school year and a new school and a new teacher so we have our work cut out for us. I have a couple of vacation days left so we will treat him to a nice couple of days at an amusement park and waterpark and I will certainly make sure we keep him in close range and have a fun time.

Matthew is living his life and he is the center of our lives and we are aware of his situation and we are working with trained professionals to help us so we can help him grow and have wonderful opportunities that he so much deserves.

Edward D. Iannielli III

Life’s unexpected moments.

It seems like the summer season only just started as I had such plans and wishes to accomplish this season but there was an unexpected tragedy in our family that just made all those plans and wishes seem so insignificant. It seems that emergency plans had come about also to put the anticipated plans on hold. I was hoping to do aluminum siding and have a shed built but those plans fell through. I also had hoped to see my dad more this summer and involve him in family outings but that was not to be as we lost him and things were forever changed. I still felt we had to resume with some of our summer plans to try to have some normalcy. Most importantly I knew we had to keep Matthew busy and send him to Camp Kehilla as he loves going there and he has full days and is kept very busy and he enjoys it.

When I lost my dad I was devastated and I wanted to keep a part of him with me so I was fortunate to have the Subaru he had given to me as a gift 3 years earlier and it was running well but I started having to put money into the car as I had to replace the engine and have a rebuilt transmission. I figured I put all that money into the car and it was running well so I wanted to keep it as it was a memory of my dad. I did not realize my wife’s car, a Saturn which was 7 years old was going to die on her so we had to make a choice. I wanted to keep my dad’s car for the sentimental value and I decided we would buy her a new car. We had to finance it and wanted to find an affordable car that was safe and reliable since I was the one responsible for making the payments.

We checked out the cars at the Toyota dealership and looked at the Corolla and the Camry but they were a bit out of our price range so we happened upon the Scion section where we fell in love with a bright red Scion XD and I immediately told Maria that this would be perfect for her. It is such a cute car and I just fell in love with the color. She also liked it but was willing to take my Subaru and I take the Scion. I told her I wanted my dad’s car for the sentimental value and she have the Scion. It was my gift to her and it was right around Mother’s day so it was perfect timing and I joked with her and said “Well I guess you’re not getting flowers this year!” We wound up buying the car that very day and she was excited and I was happy for her. So all was well as she had a brand new car and I was driving my dad’s Subaru.

I sometimes think things happen for a reason and I am not sure why but it just seems that way to me. A few weeks later my boss, Russel dropped me off at the office after a long day’s work and I started up my car and put the Met game on as I started my drive home and for some reason I actually convinced myself to take a different ride home then the one I was used to going. Why, I’m not sure but this night I decided to. As I exited the Seaford Oyster Bay and entered Hempstead Turnpike west I was coming upon a traffic light that was green about 3 minutes from my house so I continued driving and suddenly the car in front of me must have been cutoff because he stopped abruptly and I reacted quick enough to stop in time and felt sudden relief until I heard this loud crash in the back and all of a sudden I had no control of my car as I felt it moving straight into the SUV in front of me and there was nothing I could do. I was fortunate I had my seatbelt on because my whole body jerked forward and everything loose in my car went flying into the windshield. I was in shock as I did not expect this and I was sandwiched from the front and the back and a bit dazed. I did not feel pain but I was momentarily confused but was feeling ok. I felt bad about the car as it was totaled from the back and the front and I felt lucky I was not hurt nor were the other drivers or passengers. The car behind me was totaled in the front and the SUV in front of me had minor damage. My car however was a total wreck. I was lucky I was able to walk away from it. I felt that my dad was there to protect me and this was his way of telling me to move on.

After I composed myself I called 911 to report the accident and we all waited for the police to arrive to fill out the police report. I called my wife and sister to tell them I was in a car accident and was ok but the car was totaled. I felt really awful about it but I believe it was God’s will and my dad acting in a way to keep me protected and telling me to move on and seek a new car. I truly believe this. I always wish I had my dad around still but he protected us like he always had and we each inherited a 1/3 of his life insurance so I had a good amount of money in the bank. My car was impounded and I called my insurance company to report the accident. They arranged to send a claims adjustor out to see the extent of the damage. Within a week I got a call that they totaled out the car and were issuing me a check for 6k. I was quite happy and once again knew that was my dad helping me again. I had enough money to buy a car in cash and I decided on the Nissan Sentra and feel that dad would like my choice. So now Maria and I now had brand new cars and I owed it to my dad.

I know a car is a material thing and a necessity which is what I felt about my new Nissan which is a beautiful car. The Subaru however became sentimental to me but I realized you can’t keep memories from material things either. It’s the memories we hold on to that makes us reconnect to our loved ones we lost and we all know that when we die we don’t bring anything with us other than the clothes we are dressed in. I learned an important lesson and I will cherish all my happy memories of dad and thank him for keeping me safe that night I decided to drive home a different way. Life is funny that way. I did manage to keep my dad’s religious medalion that he kept in the Subaru and I keep that in my Nissan. I know my dad is my copilot and is watching over me and my family and I feel protected.

It’s all about helping Matty!

I consider myself a very sentimental guy with a soft interior and a tough exterior and have been in touch with my feminine side on occasion dealing with all the recent events in my life and my son’s ongoing problems with autism and behavior problems. It’s enough to make me cry and wonder why we have so much to deal with. If I did not get in touch with my feminine side I might react violently and put a hole in the wall with the frustration and anger I feel sometimes so I must control how I feel and temper my emotions.

It is a balancing act and one I deal with every day. I have been to a doctor for treatment of my depression and I have to make sure I am ok so I can help my son. I am sometimes unsure how to deal with situations I have no control over. I feel totally helpless in my dad’s unfortunate choice to take his life and if I knew he was at that breaking point I’m not sure I could have made the difference anyway. This is something I will wonder about for the rest of my life and feel haunted by it. My dad never intended this but it is human emotion and I feel guilty that I wasn’t there to help him in his time of need. He was always there for me and my family. I also feel helpless with regard to my son’s situation. I am always worried that he could have a seizure and I’m not there to protect him. He also is prone to having meltdowns and I am concerned that either I’m not there to help him through it or I am there and I can’t help him through it and I lose it and get frustrated and use force rather than gentle understanding. This is why when you raise an autistic child you need to balance both your masculine and feminine sides so your reaction is proper to the situation.

I am no expert at this but I have learned thru the years that it is ok to express your feminine side from time to time because it helps in being more understanding and sympathetic to your child and reaching out to help and not being ashamed to ask for help. To me it seems women know more about dealing with their emotion and they are not threatened by asking for help when it is necessary where as men sometimes seem to proud to ask for help. I have learned that it is most important to ask for support and help as I now take more cues from my wife in this regard. She has taught me a lot and made me a better person for it.

My son is my priority #1 and I have to be there for him and be both strong and sensitive for him as he exhibits sensitivity and easily gets upset and has tantrums. It is very hard to calm a child going through a tantrum and it requires a lot of patience, understanding and sensitivity. I am learning all the time and I listen to women at our support group meetings to gain insight into how they deal with such tantrums with their children.

Sometimes I am overwhelmed and cry as I feel things are out of control and I like things to be in order and perfect but there is no such thing as perfection when you come from a dysfunctional background. Our upbringing was fine and we were loved and taken care of and nurtured and provided all the comforts but our family had its struggles with mental illness and depression and isolation. We all deal with our feelings in our own ways and try our best to deal with the pain we feel. In my son’s case I get frustrated because I want him to grow and have a life full of joy, happiness and promise for a bright future but I see how he struggles and how isolated he is similar to my isolation but for much different reasons. I want my son to have many friends and to be happy and to enjoy success. I want to be there for him and help him but realistically I can not always be there for him. I will always encourage him and provide him support like my wife does as she has a more sensitive and compassionate relationship with him and I am learning also by addressing the feminine side more so because I don’t enjoy when my son says he hates me because I lose it and flip out. I need to be more understanding and compassionate.

I even have to control when I get so upset I want to say a bad word. This really gets my son so upset and he tells me he hates me and doesn’t want me around so I have learned I can not say bad words which sometimes are involuntary but this is the whole theory of getting in touch with your feminine side. I don’t want to offend my son so I’d much rather be in touch with my feminine side and have him much happier with me than a madman shouting bad words and making the situation worse. I have learned a lot with raising an autistic child and I am still learning everyday.

My wife and son are my life and I need to be there for them and whatever it takes to help my son I will do it. I have learned that taking the calm and sensitive approach is the way to go with autistic children and it is better for me because it keeps my bloodpressure lower and adds more years to my life. Women always seem to have the answers and that is why they are the ones to give birth because they are both very sensitive and very strong at the same time and they can tolerate a lot of pain. I have learned a lot from women and am glad to admit it. I love my wife and son very much and feel it is ok to be in touch with your feminine side especially if it will keep your children safe and protected and help them with their self esteem.

Edward D. Iannielli III

Spending time with Matty

Given the demands of a busy work schedule and the pressures of work I generally only have the weekends to spend with my son and I try to plan a day where we can have an active and fun day and spend quality time together because we never get back that precious time. I am always haunted by the Harry Chapin song Cats in the Cradle which is very poignant and sad. I do wish Matthew would have planned activities with kids his age on the weekends also and we have tried to provide him with such opportunities but he either fights going or just complains of boredom and he has no desire to participate in any type of sports programs. Therefore we have to arrange for activities for him and I try to give him flexibility but I still feel it will be necessary to eventually get him involved in organized activities. The main problem with organized activities is that they do come with a heavy price tag and the camp program we send him to in the summertime is very beneficial for him but we have to save for that and it leaves us little money for anything else.

Our school district has not been all that helpful in providing activities for our son for the summertime and Matthew really does enjoy his camp program. After school activities are also difficult because at Summit Lane they were not equipped to accomodate him due to his special needs. When I complete my errands on the weekend I usually take Matthew out for a ride and we go out to lunch and take a walk at the park. On a nice summer day we will spend a couple of hours at the pool and then go see a movie.

One of Matthew’s favorite foods is pizza so sometimes we’ll take a ride out to Mama’s Pizza in Oakdale where he likes to go as he really enjoys the ride and the pizza. Since we have driven such a distance we usually ride to Robert Moses Beach and walk along the shore and if we’re there early enough we go swimming if we planned bringing our bathing suits and towels.

Matthew also likes to ride his bicycle at the park and he can spend a full hour before getting tired. He has a lot of energy and he feels good after a long bike ride. Usually he gets all excited when he sees the ice cream man and always asks me to get him his favorite ice cream snack. I remember as a kid growing up in Brooklyn, NY when the good humor ice cream man, Uncle Lee would stop by and how excited we were to get our favorite ice cream bar. It seems like only yesterday.

I also try to have Matthew invite his cousin Kathryn to join us for the day as they get along very well together and she is like a big sister to him. There will come a time when she will be into her own things but for now she does enjoy spending the day with us and she is a very sweet young lady and they enjoy each others company. We recently went to a concert at Jones Beach where we saw some really cool bands. The main attraction was Blink 182 and the other bands performing were Fallout boy, Panic at the Disco and Chester French. It was a fun night out and we all enjoyed it. Since my wife was working and I had an extra ticket I invited my coworker and friend, Lisa Gode and I introduced her to my son and niece and she had a good time as she is a big Blink 182 fan.

Sometimes we do repetitive things on the weekends but I feel it is important that we spend time together and I allow him to have a day out and try to involve him in things he likes. I still have to work on getting him more involved in group activities so he can make friends and grow and have positive experiences as that was what my childhood was like. I was involved in sports and made friends and this is my hope for my son.

Edward D. Iannielli III
(with help from Matty Iannielli)