After we learned of Matthew’s diagnosis we realized we were charting unfamiliar territory and we were seeking help from as many sources as we could find. In addition we needed to find a neurologist for his seizures, We needed to find doctor’s familiar with autism or find specially trained professionals in the field who were referred to us through the agency that was referred by the Early Intervention program.
It was a period of uncertainty and a lot of nervous anxiety as we had to do so much research and seek doctors and establish schedules around our son’s needs. We also needed to express how we felt and my wife was instrumental in searching out support groups where we could introduce ourselves and speak of our experiences and our hopes on helping our son. We were trying to learn as much as we could and implement a plan for our son to start him on the right track. We knew it would not be easy and would require a lot of patience and guidance. The support group meetings were good because they give you the opportunity to explain your situation with your child and autism and to learn from families who have been through it and know where you are coming from. As I never knew anyone affected by autism before Matty’s diagnosis I grew to realize how there are so many families affected by it but you just don’t know it until it hits home. I truly realized how big a problem it is and how widespread it is and the stress and helpless feelings can certainly take its toll on the family. In addition to seeking support for your child it is also necessary to seek support for yourself as this is a challenge that tests every ounce of your strength and every emotion you can feel.
Life with an autistic child is special as I enjoy spending time with my son and know he is a child that is trying his best and needs a lot of love. I just want to hug him so much and make him feel loved and comforted and to not be afraid. I want him to know he is just like anyone else and he is intelligent and can do anything he wishes. It is nice to see my son smile and have fun and actively participating with others. I like when he is visited by a friend and enjoying their company and playing together. It is very important that he experience this more often. It makes me sad when I see him doing things alone more than he should. I am Matthew’s dad and I am his friend and I love when we get to do things together. I love to pick him up and tickle him and see him laugh uncontrollably and having fun. This gives me great joy. I also enjoy taking him to the swimming pool and doing things that we all loved to do as kids. He likes when I pick him up and throw him in the middle of the pool as he just laughs and really enjoys it . He also loves to splash around in the water and show me his swimming techniques he’s learned in camp. We always have contests to see who can stay in the longest and he always wins!
So as the father of an autistic child I can tell you there is hope for your child and there are plenty of resources available for guidance and support for you as parents. Just remember the love you hold for your child and the desire to help them as the rest will come naturally. I speak from experience and I know we are still learning and each day presents its challenges but we have a precious child depending on us who needs plenty of loving and my wife and I have an abundance of love to give him as he is our special boy and every day I get to share with him I am truly happy and truly blessed.
We Love you Matthew!
Edward D Iannielli III