Autism Awareness

I have been very truthful in my writings and I write from the perspective of a father who has a son on the autistic spectrum. I know how to convey my feelings in this format and I find it helpful in expressing what is happening in our son’s life. I am directly impacted by his setbacks and wish to try to help him through them. It is not easy to be a quiet observer when you realize you need to do the best for your child. I am not always sure what is best for my son but I know I want to do all I can for him. I started my blog with the intentions of finding an outlet to express my feelings and share my experiences of raising our son as he navigates life and explores life outside of the home.

I have had the special privilege of being contacted by Ms. Jodi Bakken who found my blog and expressed her interest in what I shared about raising an autistic child. She also shared the good news that my blog was going to be selected as one of ten parent blogs that would be showcased on the website she represents called healthism.com. They are actively involved in raising awareness for autism and wanted to share personal blogs from parents raising autistic children.

April is Autism Awareness month and it is very important to educate others whether they are parents of autistic children, educators, siblings of autistic children, the medical community and families who experience life with autism every day. We all must learn to understand what autistic children have to deal with on a daily basis. It is very difficult to understand what autistic children go through but if you spend time with an autistic child and try to understand what is going on in their life you would then find ways to try to help them and understand their situation. It is truly a challenge at times trying to understand and cope with the day to day happenings. Autistic children can have some major hurdles to overcome and it is a parent who must learn to step up and take proper action and they must learn to find a support network that will not only help their child on the spectrum but will help each parent to understand what is going on and to find comfort in knowing they are not alone and can find others who can help shed light on raising and providing autistic children with the love and nurturing they need which hopefully will help to turn their life around.

I am so happy to meet people like Jodi who certainly is doing her part in helping raise Autism Awareness and she and her staff have selected ten wonderful blogs that help shed light on what it is like to raise an autistic child today. I am very happy to share my experiences and I am dedicated to helping my son and provide him with the love and support that a parent can. I know I have my own issues that I must deal with but that will not affect my love and support for my son and my wife. We are in it together as loving parents to our son and we always want what is best for him.

I look upon my writing as important and therapeutic and a journal that hopefully my son will come to appreciate and read. I want him to know how much I love him and his mommy and that we are all in this together and will always be. It is my intention to put my son through college while my wife will be supportive to our son in ways that I can’t. I also will be more open minded and also very supportive and try as best I can to understand that things will never be perfect. I am not perfect so how can I expect my son to be. I have to understand we all have to be true to who we are and we must be responsible for our children and teach them to understand what they face in their life and we must learn to listen and find the proper help they need.

I am sharing the link to healthism and proudly applaud Jodi for her involvement and her commitment in helping all autistic children, one child at a time.

 http://blog.healthism.com/post/20520919101/parent-blogs-of-children-with-autism

I will continue to write and express my feelings on my son and his day to day life and his medical diagnosis. I will also gladly showcase the efforts and beautiful work of my new friend, Jodi and am glad there are people like her working to raise awareness for these beautiful autistic children and their loving families.

Edward D. Iannielli III

It’s not just a game! It’s a whole lot more!

I have been touched by a baseball game my son was part of this past weekend. My wife and I have been trying to help our son find a way to be involved and learn new skills, have fun and make a friend or 2. I did not know what to expect when enrolling our son in the Challenger League in East Meadow, New York. I was a bit nervous as my son has never played an organized game of baseball before. I have had a few catches with him in the back yard but it was not something he really showed interest in.

I seemed to be more excited the day of his very first game then he was and I wanted to make sure we got to the ball field early so we could practice and I could help him start to develop the proper skills in catching and throwing. Hitting I would need to focus on later and obviously would need one of the coaches to help him as well.

When I was a kid the game of baseball was something I had a passion for. I always had an appreciation for the game and I was hoping my son would also find his passion but it seems he needs a little encouragement and our involvement and guidance. I was proud to see my son in his uniform and felt that he would at the very least find some fun and enjoyment from his experience playing. I was not sure what to expect but I felt it was well worth the effort to get him there and playing despite his reluctance. I did not want to force him to play but I know how he is searching to make friends and I felt this certainly was an opportunity for him to at least connect hopefully with some of the kids.

The complex where the baseball fields and the field house are located is very impressive. There are four baseball fields and they always are occupied during the spring, summer and fall seasons. As we took the field to start having a catch I noticed parents and their children starting to gather on the field each doing pretty much the same thing I was doing with my son. I want to instill in my son confidence and a belief that he can learn and develop the skills required in baseball and if he can master these skills he most certainly can master the skills he will need in other areas and especially in life. The game of baseball is one of the most common games played by so many kids and I always took it for granted not realizing that the game would have an even bigger meaning for the kids I would see today playing including my son.

My son has Asperger’s and he certainly has his challenges and to this point we have been trying to find a sport or activity where our son would benefit from participating. When I saw the kids gathering at the field I was touched very deeply and emotionally as I saw kids just like my son who were autistic and I saw kids with a diversity of challenges. I saw kids in wheel chairs, I saw kids with cerebral palsy, I saw kids with downs syndrome, I saw kids with leg braces, I saw kids of all sizes, some very tall and over weight and some very small and petite. I saw boys, I saw girls and I saw young kids who wanted to just play and have fun.

I literally had tears in my eyes seeing how these kids had such challenges yet just wanted to be involved in a game of baseball. For me this game started to take on a more important meaning then what I remembered when I was a kid playing little league baseball. It seemed to me these kids normally would be passed up and would never have such an opportunity but this league was so very different because this league actually encouraged these kid to come and play. It was a very heart warming experience and I was so delighted that my son was a part of it.

As the coaches started to ready the field for play they had the buddies assigned to each kid participating and these buddies were kids who have had experience playing the game and had excellent playing skills and were very involved in providing support and encouragement. My son had a buddy paired off with him and he introduced himself to both my son and I. I was impressed with his maturity and his level of skill. He started to have a catch with my son explaining to him how to properly position himself and his glove when catching. I was happy that my son had this one on one interaction and I was no longer worried. I was very delighted and saw what sets this league apart from the traditional leagues. This league is devoted to special needs children and the coaches are actively involved in the game and in making sure each and every kid gets up to hit and are positioned in the field. The coaches pitch the ball in a way that helps enable these kids to hit and run the bases. The game is not about competition. It is about these kids learning and developing skills and having fun and being encouraged every step of the way by their buddies and all the coaches, staff and parents.

I saw kids come up to bat who seemed to struggle at the plate but the emphasis was that each kid get a chance to hit the ball and to get on base. I was excited when my son got up to bat. He had a good stance and he managed to hit the ball after a few swings and I was so proud of him as I heard all the coaches and his buddy and all the parents cheering. It was an incredible experience and I was so happy we signed our son up for this league. The founder of the league is very committed and wants to see all these children have fun and succeed. It is such a wonderful opportunity for these kids and I was inspired so much that I wanted to share this with all of you.

The game was a three inning game and it took on a dimension different from what I was used to but I understood why and I was very grateful because these kids need encouragement and nurturing and competition is not what these games are about.

I was so happy for Matty and I will be there with him next week looking forward to the next scheduled game. After the game I shook the hands of some of the coaches and my son’s buddy offering my thanks and appreciation and my son and I then went to McDonald’s for lunch.

What I very much enjoyed about this game was seeing the smiles on all these kids faces including my son’s. These kids all have their own challenges but for those three innings of organized play they had a chance to be kids just like any other and they were all having fun and learning something very valuable. It was very touching and i was emotionally impacted by the wonderful experience and my son got to play his very first game with such wonderful kids. It really made our day.

Edward D. Iannielli III
   

Reflections on Being different, Autism and Life

We all have times in our life where we must have quiet introspection. It is very important that we understand and learn how we are influenced and affected by things happening in our lives. As young children we may find that we may feel different and that we are alone most of the time. We may not wish to change our ways but we have to understand what it is that is causing us to feel the way we do. We may never really know what it is that causes us to feel different but we must learn to adapt and find ways to deal with our situation. We may feel we are alone and have no one to talk to about it. This makes it very hard because we then find we must suppress what we are trying with our heart and soul to understand. I remember as a child not truly understanding what was going on in my life and harboring a secret that I could not talk about. I denied and repressed all throughout my childhood and my adult life but it never goes away and the feelings we have as small children tend to remain with us even when we grow into adulthood. We just need to find acceptance and try to understand that we are ok and there should never be any shame associated with our feelings. We sometimes can not help what it is that we are feeling. It is just an inherent part of who we are. If we can come to terms with it then we will find self acceptance and will be able to find our way. We also need to have approval and acceptance from our family and friends and this is not always so easy. We can open up and discuss it and hopefully find a sympathetic ear. We all want to be loved and accepted for who we are.

I as a father know what it is like to feel empathy and concern. I have a deep desire to help my son who struggles with his autism and it breaks my heart to see my son struggle. I am a very caring and compassionate person and I would do anything to help my son. He is my life and he means the world to me. My life is so much more complete because of my son.

I also have a desire to make things right for him in every way I can but I am no expert and I am just a father who sometimes feels helpless in what is best for our son. My wife sometimes is stronger in her ability to maintain calmness and keep things together where I am sometimes more emotional and expressive of my feelings. I need to be this way because I can not keep things bottled up inside. I have done that all throughout my life dealing with my own issues. I am not perfect but I am a very loving and caring father and I would never do anything to hurt my son or my family. I just sometimes have a hard time knowing what is the best thing to do to help our son. I have cried many times when I see my son have difficulty and get so frustrated that he feels he has no chance of fitting in. I want my son to always feel confident and believe in himself. He is a remarkable kid and I know that. I just wish he would realize that.

I was very shy too growing up so I know what my son is going through and he is now at a difficult age so I feel for him. I want him to come to me and talk and express what is going on in his life. I don’t want him to feel alone. I want him to know that his mom and dad are there for him and will do our very best to help and advise him. I am so very proud of him in so many ways and when I see him smiling and happy I am happy too. I live to see my son happy and I want what is best for him. I realize life is not always perfect and we have to deal with things in our life. I know I too have things I deal with and need to reach out to others when I can not do it alone. I want my son to realize he too needs to recognize when he needs help and guidance and he should never feel afraid to ask for it. I will always make it my priority to be there for him and I recognize his needs and I want him to feel comfortable talking with me about anything and everything.

One of the main things we should always maintain with our family is complete honesty and a sense of hope and faith. We must teach this and never let our children feel alone. We do sometimes feel alone growing up which is normal but we must try to help find a healthy balance where we can overcome the obstacles we face and break down the barriers that hold us back. We only get one life so we want to make the most of it and we want most of all to find happiness and acceptance. We all need that in our life and it is what makes us thrive and become the best we can.

I was so very proud of my son today when he steped onto the baseball diamond today in his first ever little league baseball game. He is 13 and is in a special league for kids with disabilities and other emotional isses. It warmed my heart when I saw all these kids participating. My son was paired off with a buddy also to help him learn some of the fundamentals. It was an incredible day and I am so grateful to all the coaches, the buddies and all the kids who all deserve to be there. They have just as much a right to enjoy the game and play and participate. I was so proud of my son and I feel happy that he was able to experience this. I am looking forward to the next game and I feel he will benefit by the experience and he will learn the game and have some fun. We are very grateful for the league and thank all those responsible who dedicate their time and efforts in helping these wonderful kids. I had tears in my eyes at times watching some of these kids who have incredible challenges and were there playing. It was a very emotional day and I am glad I got to share it with my son.

After all this is what we live for. We want our children to find something they like and we want them to be happy. I am not sure if baseball will always be my son’s area of interest but we have to try and if he can learn and have fun and make a friend or two then it is all worth it.

Edward D. Iannielli III