I often wondered what it would be like if we could instantly change our lives at will and do all the things we hoped or dreamed to do. As we get older and are caught up in our daily life’s obligations and responsibilities the chances become less and we become resigned to the fact that we simply can not always achieve all that we had hoped or planned to. I believe we all wish for a rewarding and worry free life filled with happiness, accomplishment, companionship and no financial stress but that sometimes can be a Utopian ideal. We all know that life has uncertainty and we have to ride the ups and downs out with courage, strength, determination and hope.
Hope is the key to living life and holding on to all that is important to us. As we grow and learn that we have to take on responsibility in our own life we sometimes are reluctant and feel intimidated. We have to find a level of comfort and believe in ourselves. We also need a strong support system where we can find encouragement, a safe haven where we can express ourselves and a feeling that we will always find safety and security. We will have doubt and concerns as we get older and become more responsible for our actions and how we approach our lives which is normal but if we realize this and also know that we can be more responsible then it will become a little bit easier.
When I see my son preparing for school in the morning and sometimes seeing that he would rather have a day off I think back to my childhood and those days of preparing for school and I can relate as I too had those days where I’d rather be home also. It is then that we have to assure our child that it is ok to feel this way sometimes but we still have our responsibilities to ourselves, our parents and our teachers and we have to still go to school. The only time we can take a day off is if we are really sick.
I have always tried to gleam knowledge and understanding by trying to understand what it is like from a different perspective and sometimes I am able to in some ways and other times it is just too difficult to do. What I am trying to say is that I am aware my son is autistic and has his difficulties and insecurities. I know what it is like to grow as a child because I have been there so I can easily understand what my son may be going through. In that case I can for a moment step into my son’s shoes and gain perspective of what he may be feeling and experiencing. I feel we all have to take a step back and try our best to relate to our child and listen to what they are trying to say.
I have often wondered what it would be like to be autistic for a full day and actually see the world through my son’s eyes and experience all that he sees, feels, hears, senses and lives through in a day. I have read and learned many things about autism but I have absolutely no clue as to what goes on in my son’s mind and why he sometimes reacts the way he does or says the things he says. It is not easy trying to do this and I have never truly derived any real breakthrough but I find as I become more informed that I stand a better chance of understanding what he goes through. I would have trouble living this way for a day yet my son lives it each and every day and I truly feel for him and wish I could make him understand that his life is very special and he was blessed with being different. There is no shame in what he has. He certainly has all the same opportunities ahead of him that every child has and I want him to know this. This is what my dad believed and this is what my wife and I believe too.
I stand with my son and know that my wife and I have to reassure him and help him navigate his life and share how he feels. We must be able to open up and not feel all alone. I know we are alone when we are doing our own things and living our daily lives but we all come together as family and family is what we must rely on to help get us through the difficult times. As family we are together and we can each help one another to find comfort and gain reassurance and confidence. Our family is our foundation and that is who we trust and need to weather life’s challenges.
Each day I am blessed to spend with my son I am richer for it and although I may not completely understand all he feels and goes through I am working to do my best to always be there and support him and provide him with the love and encouragement that he needs with the help and support of Maria. I also realize that he needs to have interaction with so many people in his life as that is reality. I only see my son when we are together at home or out for the day. The times when he is in school or participating in activities and I am working I don’t see that part of his life so I try to engage him in conversation to tell me how his day was at school or in the camp setting. I don’t want to feel like a stranger to him. I want him to feel free to share and to easily express himself to me and his mom whenever he needs to.
I find in learning from my son’s challenges I have become more understanding and compassionate and more sensitive to his feelings and needs. I would do anything to help my son gain the knowledge, the level of comfort and the feeling of security he needs to grow throughout his childhood. I want him to experience happiness and friendship and to always feel confidence and gain life’s skills to take on his own challenges in life. As his father I want to provide him with the best I can and always assure him that his mommy and I will always be there for him and love him dearly.
Dedicated with love to Matty, my son and Maria, my wife.
Edward D. Iannielli III