I can certainly see how my son is affected by autism and I realize that he is acting out or reacting in a way that he feels in his own mind is appropriate. He does not see things exactly the same way as we may and his sensory perceptions are more sensitive and easily distracted. He has many sensitivities specifically related to smell, texture and taste. His eating habits are based on his reactions to his sensitivities to these three senses and it can be very frustrating because when it comes to his choices for meals they are very limited and not well representative of all the necessary food groups. He has never eaten home cooking as he opts for store bought packaged foods like mac and cheese, chicken nuggets, french fries, mashed potatoes, english muffins, eggs, fruit yogurt, pudding snacks, oreos, chocolate chip cookies, milk, sugary juices and pizza. He has never really given Maria the opportunity to make him a delicious home cooked meal as she has tried many many times and he has usually left the plate untouched. She has tried to make him a nice chicken dish with rice or real mashed potatoes and he has picked at it but just leaves it never really eating it. It has taken Maria a long time to get past this as she always felt hurt by his constant turning down of her home cooking and it is very emotional to her but raising an autistic child does have its challenges and this obviously is one of the major ones.
I look at autism as a blessing and a disappointment because there are so many ups and downs and I am very much affected by it on a daily basis and it is sometimes moments of great happiness when we encounter the positive side of autism and see Matthew have good days and fine accomplishments. It is also a time of great pain and sadness when I see my son all alone and experiencing great difficulty relating to others and opts to be alone. It is hard to see this and try to provide proper advice because I have my own challenges in life and may not always know what to say or do. All I know is I love my son very much and I am very emotional as a person and wish for Matthew to have fulfilling experiences and life long friendships. I want him to learn to have poise and feel happy and always feel confident in all he does and all he attempts to do. I want him to have a proper balance between school and sports. I want him to prove himself and to enjoy the experience in doing so.
A child is so innocent in their development and they are so impressionable and they learn early and a lot of what they experience in their childhood affects them as they grow and mature and become adults. I want my son to have all the opportunities and experiences that his peers have and want him to feel no different from them. Yes my son is autistic and has challenges and may not behave appropriately at times and may not know how to fit in all the time but he is a young boy experiencing life and trying his best and I know he is a great kid not because he is my son but because I have grown to know him as a person and see what his feelings, emotions, thoughts, ideas, visions, dreams, ideals, goals and talents are all about and the more I see them through him the more I realize how special and caring Matthew is. I am so proud of him and realize he is light years ahead of me when I was his age. He has such an appetite for knowledge and he is very cerebral in how he talks and conducts himself and he has similar traits to me in his sensitivities. I am so lucky to have Matthew as my son and every day I feel so privileged. Maria and I know that we are fortunate for being blessed with Matthew and realize that not everything can be perfect. Our son is wonderful, bright, sensitive, caring and he is autistic and we know he has some limitations but we know he can and will rise above it.
The world we live in is a wonderful place for the most part but it is not a perfect place and we are witness to the great and wonderful things and also the very sad and tragic and truly disturbing things. This is the same of autism. There are many wonderful things that autism brings and also the setbacks that sometimes takes away from the good and cause emotional pain. We must try to find a balance between the good and the not so good of autism and find strength and determination and have love in our heart to give the emotional support and caring that all autistic children need. I am very supportive and loving as a parent and this is what helps me deal with the disappointments and appreciate the blessings of autism. I can hold on to hope that Matthew will overcome the challenges that autism poses and will live a life of tremendous potential and promise and will succeed because he is so very special and deserves true success in his life as two loving parents always wish for their child.
Edward D. Iannielli III