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
  

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