Learning to fit in.

I believe in every one’s life we all have to learn how to fit in and get accustomed to our surroundings and adapt. I know from my experiences that it doesn’t happen overnight and we have to first learn about ourselves and our needs and wishes. Once we are comfortable with ourselves then we can reach out and expand our circles and make friendships along the way. As a child I was relatively shy and most times very quiet but I could speak through my talents and abilities. For instance since I was a good athlete I made friends by playing well and as I developed confidence and found a fun and enjoyable sport to play which was baseball I started to fit in and gain acceptance and learn to overcome some aspects of my shyness. I also enjoyed my times alone but it was nice to experience outings with friends and also quiet times alone to do whatever I liked. I enjoyed watching the Mets as a young kid and I enjoyed being a star on my little league baseball team also. I played so well I won the team’s most improved player trophy and we won first place in our division and the league championship. I’ll never forget being presented my trophies in front of my parents by my coach and having one of the Met catchers attend our awards dinner. It was a big highlight in my life and after the dinner I managed to sum up the courage to ask Duffy Dyer to autograph my trophy and I told him how much I loved the Mets and was so excited to see them win the World Series the year before. He was very nice to me and wished me all the best in my future.

I see my son struggling to fit in and I know it is difficult for autistic children to adapt to change and learn proper social cues. It takes time and I know that and I have a great deal of patience for my son and wish for him to find things that interest him and help involve him in fun activities. I feel that is very important and it is not always that easy to find out and it requires self exploration and a desire to be involved. The first thing our son needs is to feel comfortable in his school setting and we are very involved in helping him and are in touch with his teachers and welcome them to contact us as necessary. Once Matty is comfortable with school and is on the proper schedule and is responsible with doing his homework and chores then we will look into appropriate after school programs. The one thing I am concerned about is that we may have to look for programs off the school grounds and they require financial commitments as they are not covered by the school district. We therefore have to make sure we can find a suitable program that is within a reasonable distance, affordable and that Maria will be available to transport him and pick him up.

It all seemed so much easier when I was a kid. I just got on my bike and rode to a friend’s house. Nowadays it seems kids need more parental involvement so they can have fun experiences and the opportunity to play with friends. I find when I was a kid it seemed so much easier to visit friends. For Matthew it is hard to schedule play dates and I feel sad for my son because he is alone a great deal. I wish it was a bit easier to help him establish friendships. The times we live in today seem to be more complicated and requires a lot more parental restrictions and supervision.

Matthew does keep himself busy after he does his homework but he sticks to a routine and I feel if he could experience some sporting or creative outlets he would certainly benefit from it and we would feel happy for him. We will have to start looking into some programs and work it into our budget and see if our son will enjoy participating. I feel weekend activities would serve him well too and would consider finding appropriate programs for him.

It is so important to find yourself and to feel good about yourself. Once you do then it becomes easier to participate in activities and to open up and make friends. I speak to my son about this and encourage him to participate. I know he loves his camp in the summer because he participates with other kids and he enjoys the fun activities and he has counselors who are dedicated and who care for the kids.

I certainly will be the first one with my wife to cheer for Matty in whatever he chooses and we will encourage him and be there to see him as we want him to know how much we want him to be happy and to see him having fun. We want him to fit in with the other kids and to know he is a great kid and worthy of some close friends like I had as a kid growing up.

Edward D. Iannielli III

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