Autism and financial need

As the parent of a special needs child I know how important it is to provide our son with positive summertime experiences. I know that summer camp is very special to my son because that is all he talks about when the school year approaches the summer break. We have been sending our son to the Camp Kehilia day camp program since he was 5 years old. I do find though that the financial commitment becomes a little more expensive each year and now the cost to send my son for 4 weeks of day camp is over $5,000. I find that it is becoming increasingly more difficult to send my son and that to me is very frustrating because I know how much he loves to go and it would break my heart if I was unable to send him as this is all he talks about. I have to find a way to send him or find an alternative that would satisfy my son’s needs.

I have discussed other options at the school district meeting with my wife and the school representatives and they informed us of a program offered by a private school that offers a 6 week program that is paid by the school district and it is a continuation of school combined with activities. I am not sure if my son would want to be in a school setting in the summertime so I really have to discuss it with him and determine the best option. To me it would be a much needed relief financially to have the help from the school district and send him to the 6 week program at the school and I feel my son would benefit from the stimulation and the continuity of having classes and studying math, english, computers and writing in addition to occasional day trips.

I wish I could find a way of helping families that struggle find a way to send their kids to summer day camp. I know that we all want to do the best for our children and sometimes we have to be realistic in what we can and can not afford. This is what makes great minds work to find solutions. There are so many families that wish to find a way to send their kids to camp but need the financial assistance. I also believe that there are many major and local companies that would gladly contribute monies to these camps for providing assistance to these needy families. The problem however is there are so many applicants for the financial aid and there is only a finite source of funds available and the application forms are so very detailed and complicated to complete.

I would love to find a way to develop a website that would serve as an intermediary between camps, needy families and corporate sponsors and generate revenue from advertising so that monies could circulate to the families and the camp financial assistance funds benefitting and providing kids the opportunity to go to camp and providing the corporations a tax deductible contribution. The website would have to be approved as a charitable organization under IRS regulations. This to me would be a direct way of helping in some small way to champion the cause for autistic children and special needs children.

Sometimes it seems so logical and sometimes it seems so difficult but if you have an idea and you can implement it so you can help people then it truly is worth the effort and hard work. I’m sure there are so many websites that serve as foundations and help fund camp, education, medical assistance, food supplies for the hungry, shelters for the homeless and christmas gifts for sick children. If I could develop a website that could serve families, camps and other organizations and be able to make it possible to send a needy child to camp then I feel my life would be more meaningful and I would feel so happy knowing I can make a difference and also send my son and someone else’s child to day camp. I already have an idea for the name of my website. I just need to know how to put my good intentions to the test to make it work the way I wish it could.

As a working parent I know we all wish to provide our children with all we can. I am certain that the most important thing we can provide our children with is love. Money is important but it can only go so far. Love, however is forever!

Dedicated to you, Matty!

Edward D. Iannielli III

Autism and answering my son’s tough questions

I would have to say that one of the hardest things in raising an autistic child is answering their perceptive and sometimes rather difficult questions. I sometimes have to really think it over before I volunteer an answer to one of my son’s unexpected questions. I also need to shield my son from the news because he is very sensitive and he easily expresses his feelings relating to sad and difficult situations and gets very emotional and very upset. I remember one such question which to this day still haunts me because I really struggled in finding the right words in answering this specific question and I had to make it understandable to him.

I will share some of his questions just to give insight into a young child’s mind who is inquisitive, autistic and very sensitive. To start this writing exercise I will have to take you back to the time of my childhood as a 2 year old and then advance to my son’s early childhood when he was a 2 year old to give some perspective.

Back in 1963 when I was a 2 year old I have no real recollection of the events or memories of the day specifically but I do have a collection of articles and books which were collected by my mom and dad regarding the tragic day in question. The day was November 22, 1963 which was a very sad day for our country and for the Kennedy family. I remember my mom telling me she was heartbroken when she heard the news and she cried and was in total shock but she still had to make sure I was fed and changed. In a way I took her mind off of that sad event for a short time.

My dad was very interested in reading about John F. Kennedy and his acts of heroism during the war and his duties as commander of the PT-109 and his days studying at Harvard University. I was born 2 days before John F. Kennedy took the oath of office as the 35th president of the United States. On that day when our president was assassinated it was the so called “end of innocence” for our country and my dad shared with me his experiences when he first heard the tragic news and what he said was that he and his fellow ironworkers stood in stunned silence when word got out and they just cried and embraced each other. They ceased work for the day and my dad was so upset about it that he just drove for miles in total silence not wanting to hear the news heading home to comfort mom and me.

Now I advance to when my son was a two year old and his mom was taking him to the dentist for an appointment. The date was September 11, 2001 and it seemed like any typical pre-fall day as it was sunny and very mild. But when the planes hit the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and the vision of the horror from the news reports became reality I was in total shock viewing the images on the internet and I was unable to comprehend the events and what transpired that day. All I could think of was getting home to my wife and son just like my dad felt back in 1963. It was surreal watching the news and seeing clips of those planes exploding into those buildings literally every 5 minutes it seemed as they kept rerunning those haunting images. All I could think of was those poor people on the planes and the ones trapped in the buildings. My son was too young to understand what was happening but now each year when he hears the dates November 22, 1963 and September 11, 2001 he gets very upset because he knows what happened on both those days.

My son learned of John F. Kennedy from seeing the books my parents shared with me and a book I picked up for my son of his autobiography geared for a young student. He knew President Kennedy was assassinated as well as Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy from learning it in school like I did and reading about them in his textbooks. He asked me a question so innocently and with real concern and I know he was very upset about it. The question as he asked it was like this. Upon seeing the story of his life and learning how he died he asked me “Why would someone kill our president and a daddy when he has such young children and a wife?” I was trying to answer him in a way that explained the truth but it was very hard because I could see my son very upset about it.

It reminds me of the time in my childhood when I learned of the plight of the Jews during WW II and the tragic loss of life at the hands of a brutal dictator. I dread the day when my son learns of this and sometimes I know we have to discuss events such as these but it is so very difficult to do so. My son has a very sensitive side about him and it really pains me to talk about these sad realities. Sometimes I wonder how the teachers approach such difficult subjects. We can not deny the truth but we also need to know how to present the facts in a way that is not damaging to a young child’s mind.

When my son realized what happened on September 11, 2001 from the yearly anniversaries and seeing the replayed images he really was very disturbed about it just like we were. He kind of understands the tragic loss of life and the total collapse of the buildings and the deliberate acts of using planes as bombs. He denies it ever happened in his mind and refuses to accept that the buildings and people who perished that fateful day are gone. A question he asked me about that fateful day was also a very sad but very perceptive question which made me have to really think long and hard in how to answer it. His question very innocently was “Why could this happen and why do people hate each other like this? I really had a difficult time answering this and I see how young children are affected by it. We brought Matty to see a psychologist to help him with his autism and when he has questions like this we encourage him to ask us or an adult such as his psychologist. We don’t like to see him thinking so much about these sad events but we also realize it is equally important for a child to express themselves and the feelings they are experiencing.

We all wish life was perfect and that everything was a happy occurrence but the reality is that life although wonderful also has sad times and painful realities that we all must experience. A sad event that hit close to home for us and for our son was the loss of my dad, Matty’s grandfather last year. The happy and memorable reality was that Matty loved his grandfather and shared many happy times with him. He remembers him and clearly has a visual picture of him in his mind. Matty and grandpa (Pop) really understood each other and they enjoyed each other’s company. Pop and Matty would always enjoy building lego towers and Pop loved to help Matty with his domino chains and with arranging his cars on the race track. They shared many happy times together and so now there clearly is a void where we truly miss him, especially Matty. One day when we were driving in the neighborhood where Pop used to live my son knowing Pop was gone asked me why we don’t go and visit him at his apartment anymore and I could sense that he missed Pop very much. I explained to him that we still have a place to visit where we can pray and express our feelings.

Another sad question Matty asked me concerning Pop was why we didn’t buy him a birthday cake for his birthday. He was so upset about it that I went out and bought a cake to celebrate his memory with Matty and the family. Matty was happy about it and he made me realize something very important about always remembering the ones we love.

I always am concerned for my son and how he views the world and I feel that we need to try to always hold on to the positive things and always look at the good things and not the sad and tragic things. My son and I enjoyed the Walt Disney movie Oceans and he was upset when he learned that sometimes we as careless in our actions harm sea life by pollution and disregard for nature. When he heard about the recent events causing such devastation of sealife as a result of the major ecological disaster resulting from the oil leak taking place now and the images of dead sealife he asks “Why things like this happen and how come we can’t stop it?” I feel it is important that he knows and understands but it is very upsetting knowing how much it affects him. Children can be so aware and perceptive and it is so important that we give them a voice to express what they are feeling and we truly listen to them and try to answer their questions as best we can and with sincerity and with great effort in being delicate about it.

It is not always so clear cut how we answer our children’s question but it is important that we do so they know we are listening to them and that we care about what they are feeling.

Edward D. Iannielli III

Unlocking the mysteries of Autism

There are many questions surrounding autism that many doctors, educators, parents, families and those who are on the spectrum have which are still unanswered and may be for some time. We are not sure why autism is so prevalent today but we know that the rise in diagnosed cases amongst young children are continuing to rise and it seems likely that the numbers will continue to rise for many years. When autism was first discovered it was very rare to diagnose a child with such a condition back in the 1930s and 1940s. It seems back then that autism was a medical condition associated with mental psychiatric conditions such as schizophrenia until the 1960s when the condition was identified in a separate class with separate symptoms.

The research started by medical doctors Hans Asperger and Leo Kanner working independent of each other in the 1930s and 1940s and during their medical careers made a significant impact in recognizing and identifying the autism condition affecting mostly young boys who were having difficulties with social communication skills though they were considered very intelligent. Hans Asperger’s studies contributed greatly to helping the kids affected in his study and gave the parents and those affected hope and a medical diagnosis that was tangible and explainable.

The questions to which there are answers does help to unlock part of the mystery and gives some clarity to what autism is and how it affects children. We do know that most autistic children are now diagnosed on a spectrum as to the severity or mildness of the condition. For children who have speech delays and difficulties with self expression and socialization but exhibit intelligence and can be taught to speak usually fall into the high functioning part of the spectrum and are usually identified as Asperger kids. They usually have special skills and if encouraged and trained to make use of them they will thrive and make progress and learn self confidence and social acceptance.

The kids who struggle with self expression in every way and have no voice to speak with react out with great frustration and are prone to self inflicted harm because they have no other way to express what is going on. It is very disturbing to see a severely autistic child who’s only way of expressing them self is by hitting or pounding objects or inflicting bodily harm by banging their own head to get their parent’s attention. It is heartbreaking to witness the sheer frustration in the child’s face and the helplessness expressed by the parents trying to help their child. I have cried many times seeing the pain these children experience and it really affects the parents and all the family members deeply and life for them is a day by day approach to make sure their severely autistic child’s needs are met.

It is an all consuming lifetime commitment that really brings out the caretaker in all of us out of that child’s total and complete dependence on their parents and siblings. We all know that we have this instinctively because raising a baby demands our everyday commitment. The difference is that babies grow and develop and go through the normal stages of development whereas the severely autistic child does not develop like normal children or mildly autistic children do. They need round the clock care even as they grow into childhood and young adulthood.

It is every parent’s hope that their child will grow and develop and smile and find joy and develop as young children and learn and grow continuing to develop and gain self confidence as they grow into young adulthood. Raising a child is a lifetime commitment and a gift that teaches us and gives us great joy in our lives. Our hopes and dreams for our children are very real and we envision the very best for our children and we live for our children and strive to do everything within our power for them.

As I see my son grow and develop I see a boy who is talented and has a great potential to do positive and great things in his life. I see a young boy who has a heart who wishes to help others and is very compassionate and caring. I remember he would comfort a crying child as a 7 year old and to this day as an 11 year old whenever he hears a crying baby his first reaction is to calm them and say “It’s ok, everything will be alright!” He just is a kind and caring child and shows this beautiful side always. I would love to see my son learn to participate more and find an activity that enables him to make friends and to develop a skill and to learn healthy competitive skills and social skills. He deserves to be with other kids in healthy play activities that will help him develop and come out of himself.

To me the biggest mystery of autism that needs to be unlocked is the one that causes the child to withdraw and prefer to be alone as to developing healthy friendships. I am not sure why autistic children are so isolated and feel such anxiety and stress in social situations and withdraw. In some ways I do understand because I see a lot of parallels with autism and shyness. It all comes down to self esteem and developing confidence. That is why it is so important to teach the child to integrate with others and to learn to participate to the best of their abilities. If I can unlock this mystery with my son and help him to integrate, develop useful life skills, learn self confidence, find inner joy and peace and make friends one friend at a time then I feel I will be helping him to grow and he will learn so much with these new positive experiences.

Even with an autism diagnosis a child can develop and find joy and happiness and do so much in life. I tell this to my son all the time but need to help him implement it so he can believe it as I do. We will help him in every way we can and provide him all our love, support and guidance to the best of our abilities in addressing these concerns.

For you Matty with a father’s hopes and dreams for his son.

Edward D. Iannielli III

Autism – Accept Unite Trust Inspire Smile Mend

Autism is many things to many people. We all have some connection to Autism whether it is knowing that someone is affected by it such as a family member, a relative, a friend, a colleague, a child, a son, a daughter or just a knowledge that it has become a major health concern today. Autism has become more publicized today and even celebrities have been touched by autism whether through their own child’s diagnosis or through dedicated activism. There is no getting around it as we see more and more children diagnosed with it and the numbers are only increasing. It is very alarming and the reasons why so many more children are diagnosed with autism are very unclear and very disturbing.

There are so many things that go through your mind when you learn someone you love is diagnosed autistic. It is not easy to deal with initially as you start to understand what it all means. No two autistic children are the same but they do have similarities in their sensitivities and their behavioral difficulties. It is very trying at times to see a child struggle socially and live in self imposed isolation. I do believe we all at times isolate ourselves but it seems that autistic children prefer to be alone and have great propensity to being loners. This is why it is so important to try and reach these children when they are young with an autism diagnosis. Introducing them to speech therapy and socialization skills by 2-3 years old will help in improving their chances of opening up and forming much needed friendships.

When I think of Autism I see both the worrisome side and the good side of the diagnosis. I always hope the good side will overshadow the worrisome side with regard to my son and all children diagnosed on the spectrum. There is so much we need to learn about autism and how to help the ones affected by it. As we learn we have to sooner or later grow to accept the diagnosis and do all we can to help our child and encourage them to always try their best and to never give up or lose hope.

Once we have learned to accept the diagnosis which will take some time then we must unite to seek all the help and guidance we can to help our child. There is always strength in numbers and if we seek support and unity we can get to the next level with our child which is so important in their development and our outlook for their future. We must always trust in our instincts in helping our child and we must trust all the medical staff and teachers who come into our autistic child’s life to help and guide him. We all are trusting of each other in the common purpose of helping the autistic child to learn, grow and prosper.

My son inspires me with his knowledge and his talents. I also see that he is inspired by great people such as Walt Disney, Martin Luther King, President John F. Kennedy, Steve Hillenburg and Elvis Presley as well as my dad, Pop who taught me and my son so much about life. We also try to find ways to guide our son and inspire him to strive for all the right things in life. My biggest joy is seeing my son smile and displaying his happiness and good feelings. We want all the best for our son and when we see him smiling and happy it makes our day and gives us a wonderful feeling. We hope to see him happy as often as possible.

As we show our concerns for our child and their autism diagnosis we always want what is best for them and we are always seeking the proper help and support so both our child and us as parents can mend and put the diagnosis in the proper perspective. We are always trying to help and dedicate our lives to our son’s happiness and success and will do whatever it takes for we love our son and we accept him, we are united for him, we trust in him, we inspire him and he inspires us, we love to see him smile and we always wish to see him mend so he can live a full and exciting life that goes beyond his autism.

Always remember this Matty:
AUTISM – Accept, Unite, Trust, Inspire, Smile, Mend

I dedicate this to you, Matty to have a wonderful and rewarding life and continued progress in all you do! May you always be blessed and know love, joy and confidence.
Thank you!

Edward D. Iannielli III

Autism stories: The little professor

In some cases you will find brilliance in the deep dark recesses of the autistic mind. It is incredible to see some asperger kids display their incredible talent and just do it so naturally and so innocently. I always wondered how someone could recall from memory landscape scenes from the mental photographs they envisioned in their mind and draw the images as close to perfection as humanly possible with their hands on canvas creating life like replicas of the scenes upon viewing and studying them. It is truly amazing and inspiring. Another amazing feat that autistic savants seem to take to that is equally impressive and purely mathematical in nature is the ability to multiply large numbers in their minds and calculate with such precision. There are autistic individuals who can recite pi out to over 22,000 digits with pinpoint accuracy. It just amazes me what autistic individuals can do and how it seems so natural to them as if anyone could do it in their eyes.

If you were to observe an autistic child you would see over time how they view things and how they relate to their surroundings and to others. The most significant thing that is common with most asperger kids is the repetitive behavior and the fixation on something that interests the child. I have vivid memories of my son when he was a toddler having an interest in naming the make and model of all the vehicles on the road. He would have an accuracy rate of approximately 90 % and he really took great pride in identifying the vehicles correctly. To this day he also is fixated on ordering things in proper sequence and also having to know how many pages their are in books he is drawn to. I remember when we were at the mall with my son and a friend and he was about 4-5 years old he ran to the automotive section of the book store and was interested in looking at the pictures of the cars and studying them for name, year and model. I was quite amazed that at such a young age he would even know where to go to find the automotive section.

Another thing I learned from seeing my son and what interests him is the need to know things. He loves compiling lists of just about anything. He can recite the names of all the states of the United States in alphabetical order and he can tell you if they are located on the east coast, west coast, north, south or central part of the country. I remember him also compiling a list of all the presidents of the United States from other lists he searched for on the internet. He loves to personalize his lists and attach his name to it such as Matty’s list of Walt Disney movies or Matty’s list of Pixar movies. He can spend hours at a time compiling lists. He also enjoys music and setting up music playlists with his favorite artists. One such artist is Elvis Presley and he has a wonderful playlist of all his songs. I enjoy listening to his music lists and when I was working late nights at the office his music playlists certainly came in handy helping me to continue my work with nice music playing to keep me going. I often thank him for compiling such lists and he seems to enjoy creating these lists.

I also noticed my son has a very sensitive side and is very aware of violence on television and will not watch the tv because of it. We are very fortunate that he tunes the bad aspects of tv out opting for educational programming and the weather channel. He could watch the traffic and weather channel every day without growing tired of it. When he wants a change of pace he will watch Sponge Bob Square Pants or the old Tom and Jerry cartoons. He also loves to watch his growing collection of Walt Disney and Pixar dvd movies. He can recite the lines in movies word for word and always know it ahead of when it is said. He can watch the movie once and recall it from only seeing it the one time. I am certain that he does have some aspects of a photographic memory.

After talking to my son and observing him I have come to view him as the little professor because of his desire to learn and accumulate knowledge and recite what he has learned. It can be the words in a story or the dialog in a movie or the lyrics in a song. He also has an appetite for reading books and just loves when his mom reads to him at night. He is old enough to read on his own but he also love to hold on to the precious time of his childhood when his mom would read a bedtime story and he still enjoys this time and so does Maria. It is a mother-son bonding time and I think it is wonderful that they have this time together.

I remember when I was an engineering student back in college and how I accumulated a fair amount of mathematical textbooks including my calculus textbooks. I remember when my son got a hold of them and he would enjoy knowing the number of pages there were in the book and then he would look at the sections of the book. I remember offering to teach him a little bit about differentiation and integration and its application in the real world. He seemed interested and contemplated the possibility of becoming a math professor one day.

Another love of my son is the world of maps and charting out streets and towns with houses and stores. Matty loves to draw maps with streets and draw on rolls of paper that seem never ending. He draws the names of the streets and strategically locates houses, stores and all the common buildings such as schools, hospitals, fire departments and police departments. He is always thorough with his maps. I saw his interest in these activities so I purchased the program Sim City for him where he can build entire cities on the computer.

I am amazed with autistic children and their abilities and potential and I see it with my son also. I try to always encourage my son to always strive to learn and explore and always maintain a desire to do his best in everything he tries. I believe my son has so much potential and he just has to be pointed in the right direction and encouraged and mentored just like any kid who has a desire to learn. Matty is our little professor.

Edward D. Iannielli III

Autism stories: Making the team

Johnny has big dreams and his parents know how much he loves his favorite baseball team. During the week they will let him watch a few innings on tv before he goes to bed. When Johnny goes to bed his mom will sit with him and read one of his favorite baseball stories. She usually reads a chapter to him and this helps him sleep. Tonight’s story Johnny requests she read the biography of Roberto Clemente who played baseball for the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1955 through 1972. As she reads about Roberto’s childhood and how he grew up in a large family he learns that Roberto did all he could to play even if he didn’t have a mitt or bat. It was truly inspiring how Roberto would improvise. Roberto would make his way to the ball fields in his native Puerto Rico as a young boy just to savor the game and dream of one day becoming a ballplayer himself.

He came from a family of seven children. He was the youngest with 5 brothers and one sister. His father worked at a sugarcane plant and his mother was a big inspiration in his life. Roberto learned early in his youth about responsibility and hard work. He too had to work to make money if he wanted to afford a real baseball or bat to play with. His father worked hard and provided his family with the essentials. Roberto dreamed of the time when he could play baseball in San Juan for the National team at a stadium with crowds watching.

As she read of Roberto Clemente they both felt touched by the story of his childhood and his love of baseball. As Johnny drifted off to sleep his mom gently kissed him goodnight and placed the book on top of his dresser to continue for another night. She quietly walked past him and said sweet dreams, my love. Like her son she loves the game of baseball and they love cheering for their team and spending time together watching them play. She could sense by seeing the smile on her son’s face that he was probably dreaming of something involving baseball.

Johnny always looks forward to having a catch with his father before dinnertime during the week so he can practice throwing the baseball and spending some quality time together with his dad. It is really the only time they get to spend together as they both are so busy during the week. Johnny pretends as he throws to his dad that he is playing in a real game which has been a dream of his since he was a small boy. Both his mom and dad are very supportive of him and they encourage him all the time and they have done a tremendous job in teaching him the fundamentals.

Johnny’s only real setback in playing for a baseball team is his diagnosis of autism. He has worked really hard to learn the game and to play with confidence and his natural ability. He spends hours at the batting cage hitting the fast ball, curve ball, slider and breaking ball. With the repetition and practice he has engaged in at the batting cage and on the baseball field he has exhibited the skills necessary to compete and shine in competitive baseball. The combination of practice, having catches with his dad, watching baseball games on tv and the encouraging baseball stories his mom reads to him Johnny is feeling much more confident and inspired and promises that when he feels the time is right he will try out for the baseball team.

It is truly wonderful to see an autistic child learn and develop skills and abilities to participate and be accepted and that is all Johnny asks for as he works on getting to try out for his school’s team and play a position and get to showcase his skills and talents to the delight of his family and friends and to prove to himself that he surely can play and compete and have fun.

As Johnny went to bed for the night he asked his mom to continue reading the story of Roberto Clemente as he feels such a deep connection to him in his love of the game and his dedication. He learned that Roberto Clemente was not only a great baseball player but he also was a tremendous humanitarian and sadly he died in a plane crash enroute to help victims of a major earthquake in Nicaragua as he was trying to fly in food and supplies to help the many suffering people on New Year’s eve 1972. Johnny cried as his mother related this sad reality and he said “Mom, You see baseball is just a game and Roberto played with all his heart but he gave all his heart to help out his fellow man and that is his legacy.” Baseball inducted Roberto Clemente into the hall of fame in 1973 waiving the 5 year waiting period which was in honor of his great play and his acts of humanitarianism.

Johnny then realized at that moment after his mom read to him that it was the right time to put all he knew about baseball on the line and try out for the team not only for himself but for all kids who have a disability like he has. He doesn’t look at himself with a disability though. He prefers to see autism as a challenge and a gift and he wishes to show others that he can play baseball too.

As Johnny got up to bat with his parents proudly standing in attendance he strolled up to the plate and patiently waited for the pitcher to get the signal and he dug in and anticipated the pitch. As the pitcher uncorked it he timed his swing as he saw the pitch drawing closer and swung with the same motion he did at the batting range where he spent hours and boy did it pay off as he unleashed it into the deep part of the outfield where it sailed all the way out to centerfield dropping in for a base hit. Johnny was so excited as was his parents as he approached second base with a double. He hit the ball with a mighty swing on his first attempt and he proved in that moment that he deserves to play on the team and the coach came up to him and shook his hand and said “Welcome to our team!”

Johnny and his parents embraced and were so overjoyed of his major accomplishment and the realization of his boyhood dream that his mom teared up and Johnny said “Mom, you and dad are my support system and I am so proud to have you both in my life as you gave me the courage and the support to believe in myself and I learned that with dedication, desire and passion you can do almost anything you dream to do. Thank you both for all your love and support!” As they celebrated a personal victory that day they all walked off the field as a family enjoying their son’s success and joy with great big smiles. What a great day for Johnny and his parents and for autistic children.

Dedicated for my son, Matty

Edward D. Iannielli III

Autism stories: Hi! My name is Matty and I have Asperger’s

Hi! My name is Matty and I am a kid and I sometimes feel like I can be a superhero saving the world one day or a racing car driver speeding on the track heading to the checkered flag on another day and somedays I just feel so bored I could cry. Is it that being a kid means we don’t have real meaning in our life yet? I sometimes wonder what it is like to be a grownup. I see my mom and dad talking about paying bills and making sure I am eating right and doing my homework and taking my medicine and going to bed at an early hour. I see my dad hoping he has a job to go to tomorrow so he can still keep our house so I can have comfort and safety in my life. My mom and dad really love me and I know this because they tell me this everyday. It seems like life becomes more complicated as we get older.

Why then do I want to grow up? It seems like it is more fun being a kid and doing the fun things kids are supposed to do. I get to go to camp in the summer time and swim at the pool. I really enjoy riding my bike and reading fun stories. When I read stories I can be transported to other places and see different adventures one book at a time. I always enjoy reading books that have adventure stories. My favorite book series is the Magic Tree House Series by Mary Pope Osbourne. She writes very interesting stories about real and fictional events and she writes for kids like me and I really enjoy the stories very much.

When I need a break from doing my homework and reading my favorite adventure books I like to learn things on the computer. My mom and dad allow me time on the computer when I behave properly and I have finished my homework assignments. They make sure I am supervised if I explore on the internet. I enjoy music and watching videos and playing computer games. Sometimes I lose track of the time and can be on the computer for at least an hour and not even realize how fast it went by. I have also learned to create a facebook page and post my favorite Walt Disney videos so others can enjoy what I enjoy. I think Walt Disney is the greatest man in the whole wide world because he created my favorite character, Micky mouse and I love all his stories he made for the big screen. My parents have a collection of my favorite Walt Disney classics and I love watching them with mom and dad and my friends.

Now I must tell you something about myself that is hard for me to talk about but is definitely a major part of my life. My parents make me feel just like the other kids but they do explain to me that I have something that makes me special in a lot of ways and they explain that I should be proud of all my accomplishments. My mom and dad told me when I was old enough that when I was a baby my doctor told them that I had something that made it hard for me to express my feelings and speak the words. I also had trouble looking at people when I did start to speak. My parents told me I didn’t begin to really speak until I was between 3 and 4 years old so they had teachers come to the house to help me and teach me words and read stories to me and play music so I could learn how to talk one day. My mom and dad told me that I have autism and on the spectrum it is called asperger’s syndrome named after a doctor who worked with other kids who had it also. He was very knowledgeable and made famous studies about it so they named it after him in tribute of his contributions.

I always wondered why my brain sometimes doesn’t work so good and why I am not always understanding things. It all has to do with my autism and I now understand. My mom and dad really try all they can to make me do my best and I am feeling much better but I do sometimes have difficulty and will get upset. I am trying to not get so upset and I have to take medicine that doesn’t taste so good but it is supposed to help me. I am also affected by seizures and my parents really get scared sometimes because they tell me my body shakes so much and they always protect me so I don’t get hurt. I am a lucky boy because I have parents that really love me and are helping me to get better. They say there really isn’t a cure for autism so I just have to learn to live with it and work hard to talk and make friends and do good in school so one day I can grow up and do the things my parents hope and dream for me. They want me to go to college one day and study to be someone important in life like a teacher or an architect. If I could be a kid forever I would choose to be a kid but I know that is just my dream. Actually I believe I need to let people know that having autism isn’t so bad and we all need to be treated with respect and given the same opportunities. We don’t need to be cured. We need to be understood!

I am happy to be a kid and look forward to reading my next fun story. Today my dad brought me and grandma to see How to train your Dragon in 3D and we had so much fun. He even got me extra popcorn! What more can I ask for. Movies, popcorn and a day with my dad!

Well Goodbye for now!

Love Matty Iannielli

Edward D. Iannielli III