I also had a very special relationship with my dad as well and learned a lot about how to be a caring dad and do my best. Dad was always there to help us and he would always reach out and provide advice and was a great influence and source of support in my family and our son’s life. I miss his phone calls as he would call me almost everyday.
I have always felt that our parents did their best for us and they made many sacrifices for us. I have learned that our children should always come first and we must always be there and help them and teach them and surround them with love as this is what I learned as a child and an adult from my mom and dad.
Since Matthew was an infant I always enjoyed having times alone with him and just enjoying listening to baby lullabys and holding him gently on my chest so Maria could rest and I remember those were the most happiest times of my life as it was me and my son and he was so tiny and so beautiful and I was so in love with him as he was my son and I was his dad. Those times together were priceless and special but they are fleeting moments in time but everlasting in memory. As Matthew developed and started to grow we always enjoyed his “firsts” but since we learned he was autistic his “firsts” would come gradually and they would mean so much more to us. I always enjoyed times where it was just Matty and I. I feel it is very important in a young boy’s development that a strong bond is established between father and son and continously and consistently. When dealing with an autistic boy the importance of father-son bonding takes on an even more significant role and unique challenge. I was trying to introduce Matty to sportsmanship and competition when he turned 7 years old as I thought that was an appropriate age as I remember playing in little league at that age. I prepared for having a baseball catch with him as I had a mitt ready for him and a soft toss baseball and I was ready and looking forward to it. I fit the glove on his hand as he appeared to favor his right hand and I proceeded to throw gently to him. He had not yet developed the hand-eye coordination that is so important in baseball. I was trying to teach him but he was reluctant and I did not want to force him but I told him anytime he wanted to have a catch I was waiting and ready. We still have not really had a true baseball catch yet but I feel that Matty has to develop at his own pace and I would never want to make him feel uncomfortable so I leave it up to him.
Maria and I also tried to introduce him to soccer and piano lessons but he has difficulty with structure and discipline so we are learning to adapt and try to find areas of interest where he will thrive. He certainly likes building his Lego blocks into a cityscape and loves drawing neighborhood blocks complete with houses, trees and cars. He also loves listening to music and singing karaoke. For exercise he loves to ride his bike and run around the playground.
I also know how much he loves the beach and swimming pool. We also love to take family trips and Matty loves the car rides as he busies himself with writing stories in his journal and counting state license plates. It’s funny but I remember doing that as a kid too and I remember Matty getting all excited when we saw an Alaska and Hawaii license plate. He even managed to collect all the state quarters and put them in a map designed for collecting them that Mommy bought for him.
As I spend more time with my son and encourage him to talk how he feels or if we spend time talking with him and engaging in family fun activities with mommy and grandma I definitely see him display a happier disposition and we are always working on helping him develop his self esteem and self confidence.
We always learn from our parents and we pass what we learn to our kids and it is very important to develop a bond with our children that involves trust, understanding, encouragement, approachability, maturity, love and compassion. For a boy to thrive he needs to learn from his mom and dad and from his experiences in school and successful participation in academic endeavors, sports and social engagements and be given opportunity and guidance and learn discipline and motivation and learn to respect himself and others.
We know for an autistic child that the challenges can be great and that is why it is so crucial to develop a relationship of full commitment to the child so they will enjoy success. I know I will always work on helping Matthew develop his strengths by playing an active role in his life and making sure his teachers are guiding him and providing him with the resources he needs to prosper.
Edward D. Iannielli III