As another weekend comes and goes I have the pleasant memory of spending a wonderful day with my son getting to talk with him and enjoying his company. It seems during the week we are too busy to really spend time together and sometimes I work late and he is already in bed so I don’t even get to see him during the day. I cherish these moments we get to spend with each other and I am always looking forward to the next time we get to enjoy each other’s company.
I do realize that my son also needs to spend time with kids his age and that is where we have to find opportunities for him to do so. I am happy we found a program for him this summer through the school district that will help him with continuing in a school program during the summer months that also offers recreational activities and school outings. I feel this is very important for him and as much as I enjoy spending the day with him I realize how important it is for him to establish friendships and opportunities to interact and play and have fun as a kid with kids.
As a young kid I had friends that were nearby and we would go out and ride our bicycles and play baseball at the local school ball field. I grew up in good old Brooklyn, New York where we lived in a tight knit Italian neighborhood where everyone knew each other and it was safe. It seems times have changed and we can not be so trusting anymore. I would never let my son ride his bicycle unsupervised today the way I did when I was a kid. We have to be so protective of our kids today and watch them every step of the way.
I have asked my son to provide me with ideas of what he likes so my wife and I can find suitable programs for him that will help him develop and keep him interested. When your child is autistic it seems much more difficult to direct them into sporting programs. I would love to see my son play little league baseball but I am realizing that it is not in the cards because he lacks the skill and the interest. I wish I could teach him the fundamentals and have a catch with him as every father wishes when he has a son. I have cried when I learned my son was autistic and blamed myself for not being able to break through to him through the years. As he is getting older he is improving but other concerns come up and we have to be very delicate with his psyche and always encourage him and be there for him.
My son appreciates simple things like going to the park, riding his bicycle, swimming at the beach or local pool, going to a movie, bowling and going out for a slice of pizza. I enjoy these simple things with my son as well and am happy we get to be together and I will always cherish these times together.
A part of me cries though because my son does not have consistent interaction with kids his age outside of school and I know this is very important for him in developing. I don’t want my son to be lonely. I know what lonely feels like and it is not a good feeling. It is a very painful feeling. I know in life we do go through lonely phases even when we are amongst family and friends which is quite normal. However we should always try to be involved in fun activities to help us grow, learn and experience togetherness and friendship. The most important thing a parent wishes for their child is their ability to communicate and build friendships and find acceptance. We all want our children to be happy and we try to show them the way as best we can and sometimes when our time is divided between so many other obligations we unfortunately are not always able to.
I am trying to understand what my son is feeling and what is on his mind and I always try to encourage him and guide him. I realize life can be scary and difficult at times and we don’t always want to grow up. It is a very traumatic time growing up and I realize how change is so very difficult for an autistic child to deal with. My son is so used to his routines and change is very difficult for him but he is starting to understand that change is inevitable and we all have to adapt to change. He already had to change schools and it took him awhile to adjust but he seems to be doing better though it is not perfect.
The one main thing I have learned in spending time with my son is that he enjoys our time together, he feels safe and we have good times together and I am very happy to spend time with him. It makes me feel good to have this time together and I know when my son continues to grow I will always look back on these times together with great fondness. I will also like to see my son develop confidence and find fun activities that enable him to find lasting friendships and help build his self esteem and teach him lessons that will help shape him and provide lasting memories. I have many wonderful memories of my childhood and still remember the names of my childhood friends. I want this for my son too. I want him to look back on his youth and remember his childhood friends too. I don’t want it to be a blur to him. I want him to smile and say it was a happy time for him as it was for me.
I love you Matty and want you to know that I cherish our times together and will always remember them. You are very special and I wish for you to find joy and happiness and a multitude of friendships and fun times as you grow. Do not be afraid. You are a wonderful kid and you deserve to have fun times and develop lasting friendships. Just remember that mommy and daddy love you very much and wish all wonderful things to come your way. Also know this that I will always look forward to spending time together with you and can’t wait to see that next movie you’d been looking forward to seeing together.
Dedicated to our wonderful son, Matty who inspires us everyday.
Edward D. Iannielli III