Every chance I get to talk of my son I revel in the opportunity because I am so proud of him and I love him so much. I feel we all expect the very best from our children and want them to always try their best and to never give up. It is very easy to get discouraged at times when things don’t always go the way we hope. It is then that we need to dig deep from within and shine. I have always been encouraged and given helpful advice through the years from my parents and it has made a world of difference. I convey to my son the importance of trying your best and taking personal pride in what you do. I explain it to him in simple terms and in a way that is geared to his situation. I know that autistic children have challenges and that they are easily distracted and are reactionary to their surroundings. Therefore the best way to talk to an autistic child is on their level. I have learned that a gentle and calm approach always helps and my son is more responsive to soft spoken words. I have learned my lesson that stern and loud spoken words does not help with teaching Matthew right from wrong. He is very sensitive to sound and if he detects a loud voice or stern demands he tends to resist and become defensive and confrontational.
I want my son to feel relaxed and comfortable. I don’t want to get him stressed or upset. I have learned that with an autistic child you need to have a lot of patience and at all times be a constant source of encouragement. After all our children need to be nurtured and given the proper guidance and support they need so they can flourish and meet their own personal challenges. I always feel I have become a more caring and understanding person because of my son and his special needs. He has given me insight into a world I would have never known about and I am learning every day and trying to keep up with my wonderful son and his intensity and drive. My son has such a high energy level that it seems he is on overdrive from when he wakes up in the morning for school until he lays down in bed to go to sleep at night. I get tired just watching him.
I take great joy in watching my son do things that he enjoys and it makes me proud to see him put forth such effort and seeing his delight in accomplishing the things he likes to do. Matthew loves to sing and is quite good at it as he knows the songs he likes to sing and he is right on with the beat and rhythm. He does get shy sometimes but when he is in the mood to sing he is amazing. My son is an architect in the making as he loves building sky scrapers from his lego blocks and he loves constructing towers that are as tall as he is. He learned this from his grandfather who would spend hours with him building and playing. We all miss “Pop” and pray for him. Matthew always dedicates his newest building to “Pop” in gratitude. Another activity that provides Matthew with hours of fun is his domino chains. He just loves to arrange his dominoes into lines stretching the length of the living room and when he is ready to set them to fall he loves capturing it on video and downloading it to YouTube. I must admit it is great fun to watch. Matthew is getting better with his patience as on occasion the dominoes have fallen before he had wished. When that happens it is back to the drawing board.
Matthew also loves to write and has his own blog that he maintains and he writes about things in his life and experiences and this provides him an outlet and a way of self expression which is very good for him. He is also very good in expressing himself through written word. He knows how to do spell check and he learns the mistakes of spelling which is always a good thing. He also loves writing in microsoft word and creating spreadsheets in microsoft excel. He has also created power point presentations which I find amazing as I still have not learned powerpoint though he as a preteen has mastered it.
As kids we all tend to like family games and it is important to have at least one night in the week designated for “family fun night” where we give Matthew a choice in what game he likes to play. His favorite board games are Sorry!, Monopoly, Scrabble and Wheel of Fortune. He also loves the software versions of Scrabble and Wheel of Fortune. Another family fun game we started playing together is the Wii entertainment center. Our son’s favorite is the bowling and anything that has to do with car racing. Matthew has an impressive car and baseball card collection and when he is interested with playing with them it seems his play area is either a parking lot or traffic jam full of matchbox and hot wheel cars or a floor covering of baseball cards arranged in teams of all the players. It is quite amazing how he has the patience to arrange each player by team.
Our son surely knows how to spend hours at a time playing and keeping busy and can be found on the computer for long periods of time as well. He has had a couple of play dates which we are delighted about because we want Matthew to start developing friendships and sharing his games and interests with other kids. Now that he has the Wii, some nice board games, plenty of match box and hot wheel cars, baseball cards and plenty of dvd movies he can spend hours with his new friends having lots of fun.
We are so happy for our son when he develops friendships and interests and look forward to expanding his circles by exposing him to outdoor activities requiring participation such as youth sports programs such as bowling and swimming. The more outside activities he has outside of school the more exposure he will have to making new friends and learning group participation which is very important.
I as a father also enjoy getting to spend some time with Matthew and do enjoy going bowling with him as well as seeing one of the movies showing at the theatre or going for a bike ride at the park. We also love to go out for ice cream and pizza and always make a point to do so for lunch or dinner when we are out for the day together. These are the precious things in life I will forever cherish as the times I spend with my son make me very happy and proud. Thank you Matthew and Maria for making my life complete. I love you both!
Edward D. Iannielli III