The calendar shows that we are once again celebrating Christmas day and as I look back on the year I am truly grateful for all the special moments and joys we’ve shared as a family. I am reminded also of the challenges and new beginnings we face as well. It seems in life we have to balance the happy times with the difficult times and try to always maintain a healthy and optimistic view of life to help us and give us perspective. Christmastime is a wonderful time of year as it reminds us what is most important in life and that is to be thankful and joyous for our family as we celebrate the birth of the baby Jesus. We all share in the joy of the season and are happy to be together with our family and the ones we love. I have learned so much through the years since our son’s birth in December 1998. This year will be our 12th Christmas celebrating together and it seems the years just keep flying by as each Christmas becomes a memory and a reminder of what is most important which is family and helping our son be the best he can be.
One of the biggest challenges our son faces is living to adjust to the difficulties he faces as a result of his autism and to try to do his very best at home, in school and in public. This school year has been a very difficult one for our son as he continues to struggle with socialization and behavior. I have been trying to understand what my son must endure on a daily basis but it is not so easy to get in his head to try to figure out why he encounters these difficulties and setbacks. He has had very difficult times in school so severe that he has been suspended on many occasions. When I think of student-school suspensions I think of unruly children who are troubled kids who have no direction and no one to talk to. In my son’s case he is very much affected by his condition of autism and I am not making excuses for him but it is clear that he does not intend to behave poorly. He is struggling internally with his emotions and is unable to control his behaviors because of his inability resulting from his lifelong condition of autism, adhd and epilepsy which has been diagnosed since he was 3 years old.
If I could be blessed with one wish this Christmas it would be to have my son back in a way where he can function and carry on his life as normal as possible so he won’t keep missing school and so he can be properly socialized and develop healthy relationships and friendships. It is quite difficult for him at this point and it really affects his mental state and we are also deeply affected and it can be said that our hearts are indeed broken. There is not a day that goes by when I am not consumed with concern and worry over how my son is doing during his day. I have been trying my best to carry on and be strong but his recent declines has affected my own outlook and I have to find a way to help him.
He is currently without a school and this is weighing heavily on my wife and I as we feel helpless and realize how important it is for him to get along and attend school and get back to a normal routine. He has absolutely no control over how to conduct himself and it is causing his experiences and contacts to narrow which is resulting in isolation and controlled settings and under these circumstances he is not growing and developing as he should. It sometimes seems so hard to raise an autistic child and I am sometimes so frustrated that I feel I have no control. It can be very emotional and I have felt very sad for my son’s situation as I try desperately to help him so he can have some semblance of normalcy in his life.
If I could find a way to get through to my son about life and disappointment and what we are here for I would be halfway there in helping him but it seems that whatever I say and whatever good intentions I have they get lost in the painful reality of disconnect that most autistic children face and experience in their lives daily. I have enlisted the services of doctors, counselors, teachers, therapists, family, friends and my own efforts in research and obtaining support in helping my son, my wife and myself. It is a long and very winding road and it seems we will travel this road with our son for the rest of our lives as we try to be the best parents we can in helping, advising, teaching and supporting him in his life and his world that can at times test our very limits and cause sorrow when we come upon consistent roadblocks. We will strive to do all we can for the sake of our son and we pray that one day our son will realize how special he is and how much he has to offer in this world we live. Our son has a truly good heart and he would never intentionally hurt anyone. In fact he wishes to help everyone live a better life. The reality is that he first needs to accept his situation and draw positive from it and accept us in our role in helping him as his loving and supportive parents.
Christmas is a time for joy and hope and that is what I hold onto for my son. I pray for him everyday that he can have a breakthrough and can live and do all he wishes in his life. I want him to know that he is a good kid and has a kind heart and is special in so many ways. I want him to know who he is and I want him to live with courage and confidence and to face life head on with optimism, happiness and love in his heart. I want him to know that his mom and dad will always be there for him each and every waking day of his and our lives and we will all face it together and work on helping him to achieve his own independence when he is ready to do so. We will always put our heart and soul into raising him and providing him with love, support and will expect of him to always do his best. May God always walk with him when we can not and lift him up in his time of need.
Merry Christmas, Matthew!
Mom and Dad love you very much!
Edward D. Iannielli III