Autism, behavior and a child’s fight

I am not sure why autistic children in general have so many difficulties in their young lives. It seems they have many challenges that most of us have integrated in our lives successfully. There are so many questions that come to mind relating to autism and I realize not all autistic children are the same so these questions certainly won’t always apply to all and may only apply to some so please do not take offense to any of these questions but I find that they have entered into my mindset because of our personal experiences. We always want to improve upon the situations and do all we can but realize we need help, support and guidance and doctor’s who are committed and truly care. As I think of the many questions these are some that come to mind.

How do we help an autistic child to freely talk and express themselves? How do we help an autistic child to feel emotion and use their eyes to make contact with others? How do we make it easier for an autistic child to experience change in their normal routine and accept it? How do we help our autistic children to eat healthier and not be as fussy? How do we help our autistic children while they are experiencing a meltdown and help them afterwards? How do we encourage our autistic children to find friendships so they don’t have to do things alone? How do we teach our autistic children in understanding right from wrong so they finally do understand? How do we ease the burden of our autistic children so they don’t have difficulty sleeping anymore? How do we teach our autistic children to be patient and follow the rules so they don’t test the patience of others? How do we help our autistic children so they don’t get in trouble for poor behavior? How do we teach our autistic children the fundamentals of sports so they have less difficulties with coordination and gain an appreciation of sports participation? How do we improve our autistic child’s self esteem?

As the father of an autistic child I have been asking myself and others these questions for the longest time and still don’t have the answers. I have learned though that it is very important to embrace your autistic child and show them love, understanding and compassion. Equally as important is letting them know that you will always be there for them no matter what.

I have had times of great frustration in seeing my son struggle and seemingly shy away from others. I know the pain of being lonely and feeling shy so I certainly can empathize with my son. I only wish to see him be happy, feel good about himself, make friends, follow the rules, behave appropriately at school, in public, at home and at family gatherings, do his homework and always try his best in whatever he does. I don’t think this is unreasonable to wish for but I know how hard it is sometimes to get through to an autistic child. I am praying for my son everyday and hoping his behavior will improve as he realizes the consequences of his actions. He is a pre-teen and I am concerned for him during his teenage years and hoping he will be a mature and responsible kid as he grows. He has his share of difficulties socially and sometimes has a disconnect with reality and acts out in ways that are considered inappropriate and I get so frustrated because it seems no matter how many times I talk to him to help him in realizing right from wrong he seems to not understand and I am trying my hardest in looking for answers as to why.

I just can’t always be there physically when my son is having difficulties and when I am it is never for the same reasons. Anything can cause him to react out and have a bad outburst such as a meltdown. He does not seem to have a grasp of his surroundings at times and will react. This is quite hard on us as his parents. We want him to always feel comfortable within himself in any given situation and it seem that is not so easy for him. We speak to parents of autistic children and they also feel similar to us in how their child will react out at any given time and any given moment. I feel very alone sometimes as the doctor’s are not there to help us get him straight in his thinking. Our son is a wonderful kid but he seems to march to the beat of a different drum and I just don’t know why it is so hard for him to just listen and understand. I love my son and wish to help him but I am not a psychologist or a doctor and the one’s we rely on have many patients and Matty is just one of many and a 15 – 45 minute session once or twice a month is not going to make the difference it seems. It is a financial drain also as we are responsible for part of the medical bill and seemingly not getting all that we need to help our son.

I wish I knew how to calm my son and get him on the right track. Is it going to be sedation from medication that we will ultimately have to choose or will he finally come around as he matures? Honestly I do not want to have to face that choice as I lost my mom to being heavily sedated from medication from her illness and it affected me and made me realize how so unfair life can be sometimes.

No matter how difficult the road seems and how emotionally draining the situation I need to always be there for my son and guide him as best I can. I am far from an expert in raising an autistic child and I personally have not met an expert in childcare but I do know that my son needs me and needs our love and encouragement and that is certainly something we can provide as his parents. I also need to be as patient and understanding with my son as I possibly can and be not only his father but his friend.

When I was told long ago we would face many challenges in our life I did not realize that my biggest challenge would be in understanding my son and loving him with all my heart and soul and being the best dad that I can possibly be. This is my greatest challenge and one I accept with all the love in my heart.
My son also has the biggest challenge in his life and that is to always listen, follow the rules, try his best always and find the internal strength to conduct himself appropriately in all situations and live his life to always respect, honor, obey and know we are there with him and God is always by his side. This is his fight to be the very best he can be and we are on his side as we always have been.
Matty, Please always remember this!
Love,
Mommy and Daddy and Grandma
Edward D. Iannielli III    
  

Autism and a new school year

Well as I look at the calendar and we turn the page from August to September and we make our last visit to the pool and our last car trip of the summer to a fun destination we are now preparing our son for the new school year. It seems the months between mid June and early September seem to fly by and the long anticipated summer is now behind us and the prospects of a new school year now face us. As the father of an autistic child I am always concerned for my son and how he will adjust to the new year, the new grade and now a whole new staff of teachers. This year will be a true test for our son because he will be mainstreamed for the first time and will have 6 separate classes. I am hopeful he will adjust to the new classroom settings and will apply himself like I know he can. We always will be there for him and making sure he is responsible in doing his assignments and communicating with us about the new changes.

It will take him some time to adjust I am sure but we will have to make sure he adapts as quickly as he can because the teachers will demand him to be at his best and be responsible as a 6th grader should be. It seems hard to believe my son is a 6th grader now because I remember quite vividly when I was a 6th grader as that was the first year I attended a new school as my family moved from Brooklyn, New York to Bellmore, New York and I had to adjust to a new school, new friends and a new home. It was an adjustment for me but I managed and that is what I expect my son to do also. As I think back to my years as a 6th grader I feel I was pretty mature and pretty responsible as I learned well from my parents. 

My son is mature and very bright but seems to have the typical social disconnect that most autistic children have and that is what we have been trying to help him with in improving upon so he can develop and make more friendships and have more experiences that will help him grow and blossom as a child should with his potential and pleasant qualities.

This summer was the first time Matthew attended summer classes as in the past he attended summer camp. After a rocky start and a change in schools he seemed to adjust fairly well and seemed to enjoy the experience. We believe it was a step in the right direction for him to attend summer class to help him maintain the structure of the school setting and give him the continuity that he needs and maintain his academic skills.

Another plan I have for my son is to get him involved in a sporting activity that will teach him discipline, provide him a valuable skill and help develop his confidence and self esteem and I am hoping he will take to it and enjoy the lessons and develop friendships and learn from a dedicated and understanding instructor. I have always felt that Karate would be a wonderful sport to introduce my son to because it teaches the art of self defense, it teaches skills and it promotes achievement and develops confidence and helps with improving self esteem. This is all that I am looking for to help my son and I will provide him this opportunity if I feel his instructor can teach him, mold him and help him.

I look forward to the new school year for my son with hope and optimism and I wish I could always be by his side every step of the way. I realize growing up is not easy and I sense my son is having concerns and expressing fears and I need to find the appropriate ways to teach him how to deal with his feelings and to just help him realize how he should just enjoy being a kid and do the best that he can without getting all nervous and uptight about it. I know what he is going through because I have gone through it and all kids go through it and it seems life can be complicated and filled with so much uncertainty and times of feeling unsure and lacking confidence. That is the time when we have to open up and share our concerns and thoughts with someone we trust such as a parent, a teacher or a close friend. I always discuss with my son that he should always talk with me or his mom about anything and everything that he is experiencing and concerned about. That is my biggest responsibility as his father and I want my son to know that he can come and talk to me anytime. Every parent should always make themselves available to their children especially as they reach the adolescent years. 

Well my son will start school in a couple of days and we enjoyed some days of fun and recreation together this past week which I know is important and made a difference. We spent a day at Splish Splash in Riverhead which is a fun waterpark and we also went to Dorneypark in Allentown, Pennsylvania which was a blast as we enjoyed going on all the fun rides and we just spent the hours at the park hoping they would never end. The days were fun but went so fast and now we are ready to go back to work and school. Once Matty starts the school year and gets used to his schedule I’m sure everything will be just fine. I have every confidence in my son and I will be there for him as he is my pride and joy. Matty knows how much his mommy and daddy love him and he knows the importance of school and that we will always be there for him as he start another year of school. Good Luck Matty!

Love,

Mommy and Daddy

Edward D. Iannielli III