The Christmas season is a time to share in the joy and celebration of the birth of the baby Jesus and to enjoy the special festivities with family and friends. It is a time when we all come together and extend our goodwill and exchange gifts and spend time with our closest family. We appreciate the smiles and the excitement in all the children’s faces as they open up their presents underneath the Christmas tree. It is very special because it is one time a year and it allows us to appreciate what is most important in our lives which is our family and our faith. We are guided by our belief and faith and our strong ties to family. Our family is very important and it is the love and devotion that a parent has for their child that allows that child to develop, grow and to believe in themselves. Children are very special and they are so very dependent on their parents and must always feel safe and protected.
For an autistic child the bond between parent and child must be very strong. Autism is a condition that affects how a child interacts and relates to others. It is much more difficult for an autistic child to express themselves and to communicate openly with others. The challenges that face an autistic child are numerous and it sometimes can be emotionally draining for both the child and the parents. As parents we wish to do all we can for our children and when we feel we are on uncharted ground or learning we don’t always know what to do for our special needs child. We want our child to enjoy life and have positive experiences. The most profound struggles my son has as an asperger’s kid is his overwhelming feelings of loneliness and isolation. He has an intense need to find friends and to be able to relate to them. Our desire to help him achieve friendships and confidence in himself is our main focus. It breaks my heart when I hear my son cry out for friendship and I feel helpless in knowing what exactly to do. I speak to my son to encourage him to feel comfortable with his classmates and to never doubt himself. I want him to feel good about himself and to know he is loved and respected as an individual and as a beautiful child.
I also feel my son would benefit if he opened up his “world” and got more involved in activities that interest him. If he participated more he would certainly have more opportunity to find things he likes and enjoy the possibilities of meeting kids his age allowing him to develop friendships. The challenges I face as a working parent however preclude me from being there for him after school to take him and involve him in such activities. I wish I could dedicate more time to my son in this area but I am burdened with the normal pressures of life having to work for a living and in paying the mortgage and bills that never seem to end. My wife works also but it seems she would be more suitable in the role of helping him find friendships and fun activities to do. It is very important that our son does find these opportunities and that we help support him and encourage him. I wish I could do so much more for my son and deep down I find an emptiness in my heart knowing that I can not always be there for him though I certainly wish to.
When I have time with my son I try to make the most of our time together and we usually go out to the park, the mall or to a movie. These are fun things to do together but it still does not help him in finding friends. I realize his intense need to have companionship as he is so willing to approach kids in various settings and ask them questions. It may not be the most appropriate thing to do but he means well and it makes me feel that he is reaching out and I truly understand. He is such a kind and caring child and he has such a beautiful way about him. He is empathetic and is always there to calm a crying child. If he sees a child crying his immediate reaction is to run to that child and hug them and console them with words like this “Don’t cry, everything will be ok.” I am very touched by his actions and his kindness. I love my son very much and I wish to do all I can for him now and every day. I wish more than anything that he will find things he likes and he will have an abundance of friends. More than anything else I want my son to always feel confident and believe he can do anything and to always dream and never give up on hope. My son has an inner spirit that is strong and beautiful and I pray he will be guided by that in his life and that he will always feel comfortable with himself and always know that God is always there for him in his faith and in his prayers.
As we gather with our family this year I believe this will be a great time for our son to see all his cousins and to open up and share in the happiness and joy of the occasion. For many years we have avoided visiting with family and friends due to our son’s difficulties and because we were concerned because of his inability to control his outbursts and his wishes of not wanting to go. We realize this is not wise to do because we are limiting his experiences and it is important that he integrates and feels accepted. If we avoid family then what kind of an example are we setting for our son? We must always help him to feel good and to have positive interactions and our family will always be very understanding and supportive. This after all is what our son needs and hopefully this will lead him on the path to finding comfort and opening up. He has a wonderful way about him with so much love in his heart, an inner spirit that is so powerful and a personality that is so beautiful that he deserves to be surrounded by others and to know that he is loved and accepted just as he is.
I wish our son and my family a very Merry Christmas and I hold on to hope that our son will find his way and know how much we love and care for him and truly believe in him. I want him to always know that his belief in God and family will always help him get through the difficult times in his life and give him strength to be himself and do all he dreams of. He is a wonderful kid and I love him and his mommy with all my heart and soul.
Edward D. Iannielli III