I have been touched emotionally in many ways because I had loving parents who taught me early on to always be thankful and appreciative for all the small things in life that bring us joy and happiness. It is so true how simple things can make us feel so good and help us smile, laugh and cry all at the same time. It is a blessing to have the capacity to feel and to express ourselves. I knew as a child the importance of earning one’s trust, the joy of establishing friendships, the ability to open up as a person through self expression and the bond essential in life between us and our parents which we hope lasts a lifetime. As children it is important to always feel safe and protected and I knew we were each and every day of my life because of our loving parents who always did all they could for my sisters and I.
As we find out in life as we experience it each and every day it is far from perfect and as much as we hope to have joyous and happy days we will encounter times that will challenge us and days that will make us cry tears of sadness. It is a natural and very real part of life and we have no control over it no matter how much praying we do. I find that we have to approach life in a way that allows us to appreciate what we have and to strive to do our best and to give thanks to all who have touched us along the way. We also have to be realistic about life and know that we should always be grateful for yet another day we wake and spend it with our family because we don’t know how many tomorrows we have. It is so important to just live our life and surround ourself with the ones who mean the most to us, our family and our friends and always be there for them.
Our children are the ones who need us the most and we need them as well and we have a precious gift from God of sharing our life with them and seeing them grow and develop from infants to young adults and experiencing living through their firsts, their joys, their tears and their accomplishments. Having a child will change your life and give you insight into your parents’ experiences and will help shape you and teach you more about life then you could ever learn from a textbook. In the initial days of our son’s birth we were learning and doing all we could to make sure we were attentive to his needs and we were nervous but we knew we had to just be natural, calm and just be grateful for having this wonderful opportunity and blessing.
It seems like a blur now thinking back to my son’s early days as a baby. Some days stand out but the time just seemed to fly by and it seems sad in a way how life seems to be so fleeting and before we know it our babies are growing children approaching young adulthood. It is our responsibility as parents to raise our children and teach them and help them develop self esteem, confidence, establish trust, learn to respect others and to conduct themselves appropriately in all situations. We always want the best for our children and we want them to feel loved and to have the confidence to do their very best and to find happiness and faith.
As a parent I feel it is our top priority to listen to our children and teach them to never be afraid to talk and express themselves and share their feelings and thoughts. With autistic children I also feel it is imperative to listen and respect their feelings. I have been on a roller coaster ride of emotions since finding out my son was diagnosed as autistic as a toddler and have been unsure sometimes on how best to handle conversations about it with my son. I certainly have written a lot about it and put a lot of time and effort into trying to understand it and share our experiences. I have to also remember that it is most important to listen to my son and understand his feelings. I am not trying to label my son or have him feel different because of his diagnosis. I just want him to understand that no matter what doctor’s and professionals diagnose his condition as, he should never feel limited or different. He should find the courage and strength to live with his diagnosis, never give it a second thought and turn it into a positive so he can strive to do his best and find his talents and interests and follow his dreams.
I write because I love my son and wish to help him and realize I openly express my feelings and experiences about his diagnosis and feel this may not always be a good thing because it affects him and I don’t want to have him constantly reminded about his diagnosis. In a way I feel the writing is necessary but I also feel I need to distance myself from it and not always think about it as I do. I have the best of intentions but feel I also need to honor my son and try to take the focus off the diagnosis and direct my writings, feelings and thoughts in a constructive way that will help us both. I can’t help the fact that I have these feelings running through my mind and need to channel them in a positive way. All my writings are meant to be a constructive way of putting my emotions, fears, concerns, ideas, thoughts, visions, hopes and dreams to life in a positive way with the intention of helping my son and hopefully someone who is also experiencing the same with their child and their diagnosis of autism. To me I feel that the diagnosis should never limit my son and I will always encourage him and always be there for him and I feel my writing will be there for him years from now when I may not. For me that is also why I write so I can leave something tangible for him. I would love to leave him millions of dollars but that is not reality so my writings will be a gift from my heart.
I have asked my son to share his feelings on Autism with me and not to be afraid to. He has told me something that took courage and made me realize how important it is to give a child a voice. What he told me brought a tear to my eyes and made me feel very lucky to have such a wonderful son. What he said to me is this: “Dad, I know how your writing helps you to feel better and I think that you write about autism because you really care about me and want me to be ok like mom does. I wish I never had autism but I do but if I didn’t I hope that you would still write about me like you do.” When he said this to me I just told him how much I love him and that I would write about him with or without autism because he is my life and I am so very proud of him. I also told him how I wish to write about “Pop” because he was so brave and he did so many wonderful things and he was always telling Matty that he could do anything and that he was so proud of him. When I think about this I feel such emotion and that is why I write. I have been blessed and I want my son to know how much mommy and daddy love him and want to see him do his best.
Dedicated to Matty and Pop.
Edward D. Iannielli III