A little boy sits at his computer staring at the screen as he dreams up a story he wishes to write about. It is not easy for him but it is something he finds fascinating. It is his way to express what he can not verbalize. He loves the creative aspect of arranging words into a story that can be whatever he wants it to be. He can have fun with it and use his imagination to portray something of great importance to him. In essence he is telling a story of his life and he wants to be noticed and given the attention he so desperately seeks. He wants to be acknowledged and accepted and most of all he wants to feel good about himself and what he has written in his own words. He does not speak but is very pensive, he does not laugh, he does not cry, He sits in silence, he does not have a friend to play with and this makes him feel sad and a bit lonely at times, he displays very little emotion yet he wants to be hugged. He tries real hard to focus and concentrate on his writing as he listens to music and compiles lists of his favorite songs and artists that keeps him interested and hopeful.
He is a sensitive child and he has an innocence that is a true blessing. The music is what makes him happy and allows him to find comfort and helps to drown out the silence he has grown so accustomed to in his short life. His parents love and cherish him and they shed tears that he is unable to. It is so hard to see this precious little boy so alone and in a world that only he sees. Why is it that a child so young has such difficulties? A little child laughs, cries, points, talks and makes friends along the way. A little autistic child too can laugh, cry, make friends and be heard. They don’t have to live in total silence. Autism is many things to many people. We don’t fully understand the magnitude or the dynamics of it but we do know the disappointment, the sorrow, the heartbreak, the fear, the frustration, the loneliness and the painful isolation. It does not have to be this way. We just have to find something that gives us joy and hope. No one has to live this way. They have to find an inner strength and they have to be nurtured, loved, heard, taught, encouraged, praised and hugged every day.
If I could teach my son and show him the way so he can break free from what holds him back I would feel much more hopeful. We have to always be guided by our faith and our heart. Our children provide us with lessons to learn of life too. We surely must listen and be attentive to our children and live in the moment because that is all we really have in life. Our lives are always moving at a pace we can never truly grasp or comprehend. Before we know it our precious little baby is now a child full of wonder and hope. It is our actions as parents that help to shape our child and we are always learning. Both child and parent share a unique bond that is built upon a foundation of love, hope, patience, virtue and experience. We must impart what we learn in our lives to our children and let them experience life in their way so they can learn and understand. We may not always know the answer but we must try our best to listen, understand and guide our child as we are meant to so they can learn and understand as they grow and develop. No child must feel alone. All children must feel loved and encouraged so they can find a sense of belonging and develop a feeling of self worth.
I often wonder what it is that makes us act and behave the way we do. For most of us we don’t know what it is like to be autistic. We may have struggled with our own insecurities resulting from shyness, isolation and painful rejection. Therefore we can come to understand what autistic children may feel in their day to day life. For most children it is not easy coming of age. We all have a wide range of emotions and feelings we experience as we start to grow and mature. Childhood can be both a joy and a time of loneliness. We all must realize that this time in our life is fleeting and before we know it we are thrust into having to abide by rules and living in a formal structured way. It is not so easy and it takes time to adjust. For autistic children it is more difficult to find their way and when they lack the ability to connect socially they tend to withdraw and live in silence and a world unto themselves. It is very important to help encourage and teach an autistic child to believe and to find something that they enjoy. We must teach them to have hope and feel good about themselves. We must help them to appreciate things and to not feel all alone. We must help them to write their story and to dream. We must teach them how to accept themselves so they can find true friendship. We must lead by example as parents and we must always be optimistic and we must share this optimism with our children. Children learn from their parents and they pick up on all types of cues so we must always be careful with what we say, how we say it and when we say it. We must always be understanding, have patience and provide words of wisdom always. I will always encourage my son in every way I possibly can. As he writes a story or does an assignment or just has a question I will be there to help him, teach him and provide him with the love and support he needs with a slice of optimism added in for good measure.
Edward D. Iannielli III