Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween and dressing for the occasion!

I was so happy to find a nice costume for my son this year that was original and something he likes. For the past few years he has dressed as Sponge Bob, his favorite tv show character but was getting tired of it so I knew it was time for a change. This year he is dressed as one of the pit crew members of a racing team and he looks great and he loves it! My wife is dressed in her pink Yankee team shirt and pink warm up pants and looks pretty in pink. I love seeing my son enjoy this time and we encourage him to be creative with his ideas of costumes for Halloween. We allow him to decide what he would like to be for the occasion and help him achieve his dream. If he is uncertain than I have to use some imagination or just run over to Wal Mart and find one of those costume sets which are fun and make it easier for the parents.

I enjoy just going out and spending time with Matty walking around the neighborhood and seeing all the neighborhood kids looking so cute in their costumes. The little girls are so cute dressed as princesses, fairies, Dorothy of the wizard of oz and Cinderella. I love to see their smiles and find that this age is such a wonderful time and we enjoy also giving out the candy to all the wonderful boys and girls. Matty also enjoys giving out candy to the kids and is very nice with them and also very generous. The kids are so polite and their parents while looking on with a protective eye always reminds them to say thank you.

Halloween is a great time of the year because it is the start to the holiday season which is always a fun time filled with excitement and family get togethers. I always enjoyed Halloween both as a kid and now as a parent. I love to see my son get excited and seeing his smile makes it all the more fun.

We all enjoy trick or treating and as we get older it is a bit sad when we no longer dress up in our costumes and go through the neighborhood in search of candy and good treats.  That is why when we become parents we get to relive that time and I find it more special now with my son and seeing his excitement as we go out to trick or treat. It is a nice part of our youth and provides wonderful memories and special bonding with our children.

Happy Halloween to all!

Edward D. Iannielli III

Friday, October 30, 2009

This is It!

As a special night out I am taking my son, niece and mother-in-law to see Michael Jackson's This is It! I purchased tickets a few weeks ago and when I told my son he was very excited. He has been looking forward to going and he will get to see a truly remarkable performer who truly touched so many people through his talents, his music and his compassion.

Well what can I say of the experience of seeing Michael Jackson in his rehearsal for This is It with my son, niece and mother-in-law. I wish Maria was able to have gone as she missed a truly special performance that served as a tribute. I was very impressed and amazed at the performance and thought Michael was tremendous. I just view him as someone who was so talented and was a true performer for the stage. He had such a love for his music, his fans and for the world we live in. I thought all the dancers and background musicians and production staff just were in awe of Michael and also very professional and tremendous in their own ways. I was touched by the This is It production and thought if it was to be it would have been a truly special swan song concert of shows for Michael and all who worked to put it together. They had such beautiful ideas and concepts and Michael sounded amazing and sang a lot of his old material that sounds just as wonderful now then it did then. I could not help but feel sadness as I watched Michael perform knowing what pain he must have been going through but you could not tell as he was so incredible to watch. I thought he looked tremendous but certainly seemed very thin.

I enjoyed glancing over at my son and seeing him captivated by the show and just caught up in the magic of Michael. In the show Michael sang so many wonderful songs that we remember from years ago and that really touched so many. I enjoyed his performance of Billie Jean and the big budget productions of Thriller, Man in the Mirror, Black or White, Smooth criminal and the song sang in tribute to saving our environment. It was all so breathtaking and it was like having front stage passes at a truly special event.

I was quite impressed with the director, Kenny Ortega's work on the production and filming and the guitarist Orianthi Panagaris who landed the dream of a lifetime showcasing her talents as lead guitarist working aside Michael Jackson. It was a cinematic success and raised awareness of all the creative input and energies Michael puts into his work and how he works with so many to accomplish his vision and do it so wonderfully. In the opening you can see the excitement and eagerness expressed by the dancers selected to work on the major production and how Michael influenced them and inspired them. I really can not say enough of how I really enjoyed this and as we watched it unfold we just felt so happy and got to experience what Michael meant to us and realized how his music and performances were truly a gift that we were privileged to experience. I certainly was happy to experience it with my son who has become a big Michael Jackson fan and says to me in his own way that Michael really is special because he cares and shows it through his music and his vision and those who are lucky enough to see that will get it and realize how much we miss him but we are fortunate to play his music anytime and listen to someone who really enjoyed what he did and truly loved all his fans and wanted to reach so many with his message of hope. Michael Jackson is and will always continue to be someone I admired and thought was so very talented as a member of his family band the Jackson 5 and as a solo artist who was an inspiration and had a wonderful message of hope.

As we watched the entire show we were touched by Michael and realized how loved he was and how much he set the bar as an artist and how humble and truly caring a person he was and how much an inspiration he was to all the musicians and dancers of the world who all seemed to be touched by the artist and the man that is Michael Jackson!

Edward D. Iannielli III

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Making sense of it all.

The mind is powerful and it is the basis for how we perceive everything and it is what enables us to think, act, make decisions and survive. There is so much mystery, uncertainty and repetition in our lives and sometimes we live on the edge and other times we play it safe. It is the mind that directs us in everything we do. The human mind is as complex as it is wondrous and to tap into its potential is virtually limitless and enables us to do great things in our lives to truly make a difference. I believe if we tapped into our mind's full potential we would do some amazing things but the reality is we only tap into a very small percentage of our mind's capability and by doing that we still accomplish notable things in life which is incredible.

To me it seems that there are so many ideas, thoughts, visions, dreams and challenges that enter our mind on a continuous basis and it all has to be disseminated and filtered so we can make choices based on many factors that affect not only our mind but also affect our senses and how we feel which affects our emotion. To try to understand it all would take many years of intense studying and a tremendous amount of dedication. It is just part of the gifts we are born with that allows us to tap into our mind's potential. Some decisions that we make are on impulse and require very little thought. Some decisions are based on threat and we act instantly for self preservation with our reaction to the stimulus.

In understanding how we react to things it is our ability to filter out all the stimuli affecting us and how we perceive it which then elicits our response once we have processed it all. This literally happens instantaneously between the stimulus and the reaction. The mind of an autistic child is harder to understand because it seems that autistic children have a much more difficult time filtering out all the stimuli and they can be overwhelmed by it all and decide they can only do one thing and that is to shut down emotionally and that is when they go into protective mode and put up their guards and experience meltdowns and have all sorts of difficulties relating to their situation. It is a very stressful time for them and it can take quite a while to get them to calm down and back to where they were before they were set off. It really can be an alarming experience for the people around the individual going through an autistic fit, tantrum or episode. Usually it requires a great deal of patience, caring and understanding to help an autistic child get through these difficult moments. For an autistic child it seems they can not make sense of the experiences they are going through and they then react in an unstructured and alarming way which has to be addressed by psychological evaluation and most likely medical intervention.

The best thing you can do for your child if they are having a difficult time is to talk to them as calmly as you can which may not be so easy given the circumstances. The worst thing to do is to succumb to frustration and scream at your child because this will only worsen the situation and make your child more likely to intensify their undesired response. It can be very frustrating in dealing with melt downs and tantrums but if you have experienced a number of them you will eventually learn how to react to your child's needs and hopefully get them calmed down and relaxed in a reasonable time. Another strategy to hopefully alleviate the potential of a meltdown is to have your child allowed to bring something with them that provides comfort to them or promotes enjoyment. Our son likes to listen to music so it would be a good idea to have him bring his ipod to listen to his favorite songs and hopefully this will provide him with the comfort he needs to prevent such an episode from happening.

The workings of the mind truly makes interesting reading and understanding how we store and process information and how we react to situations is all part of our mind working and triggering our responses. We certainly can see how truly powerful our mind is and it all seems so amazing the tremendous influences our mind has on our daily lives that it takes a considerable effort in trying to make sense of it all as it seems so complex and so simple all at the same time.

Edward D. Iannielli III

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Appreciating Life!

I believe I am now considered middle age and I am approaching the half century mark which seems to be hard to grasp as I still feel youthful and have the same feelings I had as a young kid. I would always wonder as a kid what it was like being my parents age and now I know. It is special knowing as I get older that I have a son who will follow the tradition of carrying our family name as my grandfather did, as my dad did and as I did. I do not have all the answers about the meaning of life but I know that we are here by God's will and we have been given an opportunity to do all we can and we are responsible for our happiness and well being once we come of age and no longer rely on our parents. In living life we do seek to establish fulfilling and meaningful relationships and we all seek to be acknowledged, to be respected and most of all to be loved. For when we feel loved we feel there is nothing we can not do. We are empowered and we try to impress. I remember as a young boy how I enjoyed being in the presence of girls as I always felt girls were special and they looked so beautiful and they dressed so pretty. I remember having crushes on some of the girls I went to school with as early as kindergarten. I just felt happy when I could talk with a girl and felt they were more sincere and more sensitive to feelings and I liked that.

As I continued on in school I felt I was shy and focused on my studies and still had a deep appreciation for the girls but felt it was harder to talk with them as they matured and grew and seemingly became more beautiful. I felt I became more shy around them and when a girl would talk with me it made my day. As a kid growing up I had my insecurities but I seemed to be able to make friends and participate in sports and develop confidence and learn things about myself and how to interact with others and enjoy life as a child growing up. Sure I went through the changes kids go through when they develop and mature and I went through all the emotions that boys go through when they start appreciating the girls and want to establish relationships. It all seems so complicated but if you just let things happen naturally you won't feel as overwhelmed.

As a parent I know that we have a tremendous responsibility in helping our children develop good habits and learning confidence and self respect. We always reinforce good behavior and building self esteem with our son and we have learned that having patience and understanding is essential. We are learning all the time and we have experienced a lot of ups and downs along the way but the love we hold for our son is so strong and so genuine that we are able to ride those ups and downs with the expectations that we will see better days ahead for our son and will enjoy seeing the progress he makes as he matures and grows. We learn the values we teach our children from our parents and we try to instill in them the importance of learning to listen and to show respect and to always strive to do their best as that makes life more meaningful and opens up so many more opportunities.

The one thing we most certainly learn in life is that we will encounter disappointments and failures and we must learn how to benefit from those painful experiences for we must understand that not everything will go our way. The sooner we learn this the better off we will be. It will help us learn to strive to do our best in life and to learn from those early disappointments. As we learn from our failures we gain insight and we can eventually build those failures into successes and this is what builds character and teaches us valuable life lessons that help us and gives us our appreciation of our hard work and effort that enables us to succeed.

For when we succeed we learn to appreciate life and we get to share our successes with the ones we love and this is what gives us joy and makes our lives more meaningful and truly worthwhile. In life we are always seeking to be the best we can at whatever we do and we try to apply this to all aspects of our lives so we can live an independent life and also share our life and our success with those special to us.

I always talk to my son about being positive and never giving up and to have faith in his abilities and courage in his convictions and to always do his best. I try to talk to him in simple terms but introduce mature concepts and also have him interact and understand. He is very bright and has a wonderful way about him and a deep love for life and we are so blessed to have him in our lives and we are able to appreciate our lives more because of our son.

Edward D. Iannielli III

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Happy Birthday Dad! I miss you!

Today is a special day as it commemorates my father's birthday. He was born October 27th, 1935 and he was the 2nd oldest of seven children. He was a great son, a great brother, a great husband, a great father, a great iron worker, a great friend, a wonderful grandfather to all his grand children and a great man! He was so special to all he met in his life and he was truly courageous and had a life full of wonderful moments and sad moments. He weathered well throughout his life and he always maintained a happy disposition and always gave his best effort in everything he did. I have so many happy memories of my dad through the years and I always looked up to him and was always so proud of him and I admired his courage, his strength, his dedication and most of all his loyalty and his sense of responsibility and his sense of family values. Dad was a quiet and humble man who always was there for mom and my 2 sisters and I. He made us feel protected and safe and he and mom instilled in us great values that we hold on to today and throughout our lives.

I did a lot of reflecting today about life and what it is like without my dad and I felt very sad and just tried to think of how special dad was and how he was always there for us with mom when we were young and how he was there for us when mom passed and how he was always there for our children. He was very special and he always thought of us and our children and would do anything he could to help us all out. He really made a big difference in all our lives and the void we feel now without him is a very noticeable and a very painful one. We know that we have to move on as that is the natural progression of life but when you lose someone so important in your life it never is easy and no matter how much time passes the pain of missing them is always there as I still feel that pain for my mom who is gone now almost 20 years.

In my Dad's honor I will lead a life of honesty, strength, dedication, and I will provide my wife and son the love and hope I learned from both my mom and dad since I was a little boy growing up. I will try to be the very best I can and I will be true to myself, my family, my friends and my employer and career. I learned a lot from my mom and dad and have used everything they taught me in my life and feel it is what they taught me that helps me to be a kind, caring and compassionate person. I have exhibited patience with my son and his struggles and am fortunate to have Maria and Matthew in my life and was so glad Dad got to meet both Maria and Matthew. Life is ever changing and we try to always hold on to the precious memories that make us happy and feel good. When I think of my Dad and all he meant to me I can't help but smile and realize I was truly very lucky to have such loving and caring parents who raised us and taught us well.

I had to explain to my son who asked me to buy a cake for Pop's birthday that I did not feel it was how we should celebrate his life. I told him we usually have a cake to share with the person who's birthday it is who can be with us. It was very difficult for Matthew to understand and he ran upstairs crying and told me I'm not being respectful to my dad. I felt bad as Matthew still believes Pop is here and I do not know how to explain to him that he is not with us anymore. Life's lessons sometimes seem so sad and difficult to explain to children and I really feel for my son knowing that he blocks things like this out and can not accept it. His reaction also brought a tear to my eye making me realize that my dad is really gone and all I know is that my dad was wonderful to mom and to us and our families and he always gave his all in everything and that is what I will remember mostly about my dad today and every year we celebrate his birthday. I will try to help Matthew through these difficult realities as best I can and only hope that as time passes it becomes a little easier.

To me dad will always be here with us as we see all he had done to help us. When I walk into our house I can't help but think of my dad as he was responsible for helping me in buying the house. When I drive my car, again my dad was responsible. So all the things I have is mainly because of my dad. He even helped me with our wedding and with my education. Dad was very instrumental in my success and I will never forget this.

Thank you Dad! I know you are in a better place and are happy being reunited with Mom and I wish to tell you that I love and miss you both and wanted to wish you a very happy birthday.


Edward D. Iannielli III
Maria J. Iannielli
Matthew Edward Iannielli

Matty's precious photographs and school.

Photographs are special and they are our family treasures that become more meaningful to us as the years go by. I was all excited when I saw my son's recent middle school portrait photographs and was amazed how much he has grown. As I admire his photographs I realize he's not the little baby boy I used to bounce on my knee when he would scream in such pain because of his colic. He is growing and it seems the 10 years has passed by in the blink of an eye.

My wife left the school photographs by my computer desk where I write and it was a pleasant surprise. My wife and son were already asleep for the night. As I studied my son's photographs I could not help but notice how handsome he looks in his button down white shirt and colorful tie in red, dark blue and light blue. He has such a wonderful smile and a very neat haircut and he looks so boyish and happy. I just wish he would make progress in his new school which seems to be increasingly difficult for him as he hates going to bed before 9:00 pm and waking up at 6:00 am. I hope he can find himself and start to feel comfortable in school and start to appreciate the learning process and get used to the schedule he needs to be on for middle school.

I remember when I was in school I learned quickly how I should behave and I knew I had to be responsible and mature and not act inappropriately. With Matthew it seems he just has such a difficult time making the connection and realizing how important it is to listen and behave. It seems he has both good days and bad days and we are concerned for him. I wish the smile on his face was indicative of how he feels at school but it does not seem that way and I am concerned about it since he will be 11 years old in December and at that age he should know what is expected of him.

I know Matthew has a different way of looking at things and he sometimes has difficulty in communicating and expressing himself but he has to learn that as he gets older his judgement and reasoning has to mature and he has to learn to behave and get along with the teachers and his classmates. I try to explain this to him and it seems he understand but when I read his teacher reports I get frustrated sometimes because he still is not able to fully integrate and he still has difficulty with his behaviors. I can not just let this continue but I sometimes don't know what I should do differently. I am trying to discipline my son and talk to him about his difficulties and I explain to him how he should behave and what school was like for me. I do admit it does seem hard to talk and reason with an autistic child because sometimes they seem to have a mind of their own and Matthew definitely falls into this pattern of being extremely difficult to control and contain when he is set off by something.

At times I feel I need to just detach myself from everything and just go into my own little place to escape so I can eventually help him. I need to know that I am doing ok before I can help my son. I also find going to church and praying to be helpful and know that being spiritual and having faith is so important to have in your life.

As I look at my son's precious pictures and knowing his difficulties as an autistic child I know how important it is to listen and comfort him and explain to him what is expected of him in school and as he grows and matures. I try to relate my childhood and my experiences to him and I also let him talk his feelings and explain what he is experiencing in school. I know I can't be with Matthew at school but I want him to know that I am always thinking of him and I am counting on him to have good days and to focus on his school work and listen to his teachers. I know he understands and in my heart I know he will manage and will be ok. I have faith and confidence in him and I want him to be happy like the little young lad he is in the photograph with the precious smile. My little buddy is growing up and Maria and I are always in his corner and will always be there to get him through the tough times because we love him.

Edward D. Iannielli III

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Sensitivity can be a good thing!

To experience and feel emotion and pain is what makes us human and shapes us. We are affected by so much in life that it is natural to have a wide range of emotion and to feel and express what we see and experience. As a child growing up I have learned from an early age that we are gradually taught by our parents, our teachers and all who come into our life. We are learning to be responsible, to mature and to deal with our feelings and emotions so we can grow up to learn to take care of ourselves when it is our time to leave the care of our parents and learn to care for ourselves. It is a learning process and it takes many years and a great deal of schooling. I feel we are affected by our surroundings, our experiences, our family life, our schooling and our friendships. Our way of dealing with living and making decisions is based on how we view ourselves and what we are trying to accomplish. I always felt that I had an inner strength that made me able to handle life's circumstances and challenges and gave me insight. My upbringing and what I learned from my family and all my experiences helped to make me have a caring way and to have feelings and to feel sensitive to my needs and the needs of others. I had learned early on that I should always respect others and to treat them the same way I would like to be treated. This is nothing special as we all wish to be treated nice and with respect.

It is very important to learn responsibility, respect, compassion, caring, understanding, commitment, empathy, pleasure, pain, human suffering, dedication, confidence, intuitiveness, trustworthiness and a will to succeed and never give up. These are all great attributes to have and are very common with someone who displays traits of sensitivity. I feel that I have lived my life to consider not only my needs but the needs of others as well and I never wanted to ever hurt anyone as I feel we are all touched by our actions and our words. I try to always think before I act and to always maintain calmness and a diplomatic approach to dealing with situations. We want to make good and lasting impressions in our life and it is better to reach out, help and extend friendship and offer positive reinforcement as opposed to negative because we should always be positive in our lives and have a good disposition.

I am a firm believer that if we live a life with good morals, integrity, religious belief and a positive outlook we will find that it will take us further and will enable us to make lasting friendships and earn us respect. I have grown to realize that having a sensitive side is a good trait to have and is not something we have to change. Sure it is important to have a tough exterior sometimes and to be able to let things bounce off us but to have a sense of caring and reaching out to others is much more important and is a character trait that people like and appreciate.
In writing this I was touched by the photographs I incorporated into this piece and wanted to write a little about what I thought of them in the context of my writing. When I saw the soldier protecting the little girl in the middle of all the confusion of war and seeing him comforting her and sitting and positioning her in a way where he is shielding her from harm and protecting her is such a touching moment and I can not help but feel for them both and think for that moment in time they are connected to each and the bond that soldier has for that child is so strong and so full of love and concern it just warms my heart and makes me realize that there is human compassion in a war zone and you hope that the child will be able to live a full and rich life and the soldier and the girl will have a friendship that develops through the years. I was also touched by the girl clenching a heart shaped ornament and holding it out in front of her and felt that was a wonderful picture to include. I also thought the picture of the boy in a thinking position side by side with the dog is a cute picture that illustrates the bond that a child has with a dog. All the pictures resonated with me and I felt they were perfect for this writing.

Having a son with special needs I have grown to learn his ways and what helps him and sometimes I may find I am still learning and trying to separate my feelings and distance myself from the difficult moments so I can teach discipline and how to speak in an authoritative way so my son can understand. I also do inject my sensitivity to his needs by also trying to understand what he is going through to cause him to react out and by trying to have empathy for him. I find I can be a truly better parent to him by understanding and helping him through the difficult times. I also find my son to have the same qualities I have learned and he is special in how he reaches out to help and I am quite impressed with this part of his personality and find this is a mature aspect of his development and we as parents, my wife and I are pleased. We want Matthew to develop a tough exterior also because he does tend to reflect his feelings and emotions at times and easily cries and I don't like to see him get easily hurt.

He will learn from us, his teachers, his friends and all who come into his life and he will develop as a person and I believe he will have similar traits that I have and it will benefit him because he is a kind and caring child with a heart of gold and I am a very proud father and am always sensitive to his needs and will provide him my love and support along with Maria's and also teach him to have a sense of purpose in his life and a positive attitude. He is a wonderful child and he has so much potential and he truly cares and has a side to him that warms our heart and makes us feel proud to be his parents.

Edward D. Iannielli III

Friday, October 23, 2009

The lighter side of life.

I am learning that we do not always have to be so serious all the time. Believe me when I say that it is important to have a lighter side where you can get away from all the stresses and demands of everyday life and alleviate all your worries and concerns. I know that if I had to be the same and do the same all the time I would probably seek a one way flight to the most exotic of places and just do everything I always wanted but was afraid to do. Sometimes I believe we hold ourselves back with our fears and insecurities and we don't always achieve our true potential. We limit ourselves and we therefore never find our true happiness. If we had the opportunity to step outside of ourselves and express ourselves in ways we don't usually have the opportunity to do I feel we would experience a truly richer life with much more joy and a deeper understanding of who we really are. By denying a part of our self I believe we are not really being honest to our self and we are therefore silencing a side of us that can lead to sadness and frustration. It is important that we try to learn self acceptance and embrace who we are so we can step forward and lead a life that is worthwhile and provide meaning to us and to all we touch.

I have been touched by so many in my life and I find the hardest part of becoming friends with others is that there comes a time when we drift away and lose sight of those who were a big part of our life at one time. It is sad in a way that we are always moving forward and that our lives are evolving and changing all the time. It seems that at times life moves at a snails pace and other times life passes by in a blink of an eye. It just seems that we are so caught up in our daily routines that we lose sight of what the true meaning of life is.

If I was asked what was the most important thing I have learned in my 4o+ years of living I would have to say that I have learned that life is very precious and we are not certain of what lies ahead but we try to find a sense of stability and a deep appreciation for all that we do have and an abiding love for our family. When I became a father I realized that my needs became less important and the needs of my son became more important and my life now became focused on my wife and son. I was no longer a single person. I had major responsibilities and I now had to grow up and lead a life like my parents did and my role as husband, father and provider gave me a strength that I never felt before. I learned that there was a bigger picture now and I had to have drive, ambition, love and a sense of devotion to my family and my work and to God. For I would not be blessed if I did not have faith. I believe by having faith we become better in how we face our challenges and how we live our lives.

I think that we also have to approach life with a sense of humor and never take ourselves to seriously. Our lives are temporary and we only know of a couple of certainties. One I know very well and the other I hope is a long way off as I still have a very young son who relies on me and I rely on him and my wife. We try to find so much in our life and the ideals I believe most of us are looking for are peace, joy, love, happiness, satisfaction, comfort, success, meaning, togetherness and family in our life's search and when we can experience all these wonderful things we are confronted with the reality that life is some journey that we live and at some point that journey will eventually end and we would hope that we had a truly wonderful one shared with all our loved ones and all those who meant something to us.

The most important thing I can teach my son is that he should always approach his life with a smile and a feeling that he is just like anyone else and that he can do anything he sets his mind to do. It is very important that we always give our self the benefit of the doubt and have confidence that we can achieve great things and that our lives do have a purpose and that we should learn to laugh and find humor in life because it will make us more open to challenge and will help us deal better with our experiences and give us a better perspective. I will teach my son that he should live life to benefit himself and to also benefit all that he comes in contact with for we all have a way of touching others and the more people we touch the better we become as a person. This is what I would like my son to learn and understand so he can go forward and lead a happy and meaningful life. He will learn that there is a lighter side to life!

Edward D. Iannielli III

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Teaching our child the importance of conversation.

I would say that it is probably one of the most important aspects of daily life and we engage in many whether we are in school, at work, with our spouse, with our children, with family, with co-workers, with friends or at the mall shopping. Conversation is the way we speak our ideas or ask questions and it is something we have to work at so we can properly express ourselves and get our points across and earn respect from others. In learning how to successfully get our ideas across to others we have to also learn to be a good listener. I have struggled in my youth with expressing myself and usually opted to remain quiet and just keep a low profile. I still managed as I was responsible with my school work but I was not one to volunteer answers as I was pretty shy as a kid growing up.

I can certainly identify with my son in certain instances as he prefers to avoid social situations outside of school and prefers to occupy himself with his interests like working on the computer or reading his favorite books or playing with his domino's or baseball cards. We encourage him to get more involved with activities that require participation with other kids so he can benefit by interacting and learning how to express his thoughts and feelings. It is very important that he learn to speak with others and learn what to say and what not to say. It takes time and the more he is involved in activities and participating with others the more comfortable he will get. I know that autistic children do have more difficulties when it comes to self expression and participating in group activities. As he grows I hope he will find it easier participating and making friendships and expressing himself.

Matthew has benefited in school with speech therapy where he learns the dynamics of conversation in various social settings and he has direct interaction with other students and does role playing which is a good form of practice and also can be fun. Matthew seems to enjoy his speech class and we have met with his speech teachers and they always had good things to say about him. They also were very encouraged with the progress he has made over the years.
They always say that Matthew is a very bright young boy and can express himself clearly and intelligently and he is a joy to teach.

I found that as I've grown and developed more self confidence I started to open up more and found that my skills have improved in my self expression and in my conversations. I think the one area of socialization I lacked in throughout the years was my ability to have conversations with the girls until I met my wife. Now I find having conversations with the girls much more improved as I feel I can hold my own with them. I try to teach Matthew that when he is in school he should try his best to participate in the class room and if he knows an answer he should not be afraid to raise his hand and answer it. He should also try to interact more with his classmates and learn to feel more confident and develop friendships. He has a lot to offer and he is special in so many ways. He has taught me a lot more than I have taught him and I feel he will do well as he certainly has the ability.

We benefit when we can express ourselves in our conversations clearly, intelligently, with confidence and with sincerity. It is important that we speak up and voice our feelings and our wishes. We make many choices in our lives and in many instances when we need to follow through we also must express those choices in conversation with others. It is a constant learning process and the more we talk with others the better we become. I enjoy having conversations with Matthew and I like to hear him talk and show his eagerness or excitement. When I see him talking about something he likes and he can speak for long periods of time I feel very happy because that is what it is all about. When you feel confident about a subject you can talk about it and express all your ideas and you generally don't have the fear as you would if you had to talk about something you had limited knowledge of.

It is very important that I teach Matthew that he should always feel good about himself and he should focus on his strengths and always think positive. When he has confidence and is prepared he usually has no problem with participation. He is very similar to me and I know it took me a long time to gain confidence so I know exactly how he feels and I know he will be fine just like me.

Edward D. Iannielli III

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Life's uncertainties and painful experiences.

As a kid I remember mom and dad would always make us feel safe and protected and always made sure we ate healthy, had active lives, encouraged us to make friendships and gave us the support and guidance to acquire a good education. We never had worries as they shielded us from all that and took great care of us. When I think back to those days I know my mom and dad had such strength because they never let on to us about financial or job concerns but there were times when they felt the burden and it affected their health. I know my dad was hospitalized many times for injuries he encountered on the job and mom always worried about the finances. We were just kids and we were never exposed to their worries and concerns. They wanted us to always feel safe but all those years of uncertainty and worries took its toll on both my parents. It especially affected my mother because she had control of paying the bills and doing the shopping. You could see how it affected her and shortened her life. It is very sad because my mom was a very vibrant woman and she was a very strong and loving person who had such a wonderful way about her.

When I think back to the time she got sick it makes me very sad and I get very emotional and can't help but cry for her because she really struggled and had such pain and mental anguish. All I remember about the decline of my mother's health was that it was gradual and over a prolonged period of time and it worsened each time she had to be admitted to the hospital. We were all trying to help her through these times and I know it deeply affected my dad because he had to maintain his job and we had to continue with school. We felt the void when mom was not there and we missed her deeply. Dad would always visit mom at the hospital and stay with her until visiting hours ended and he would bring us dinner from Mc Donald's or White Castle on his way home and then he would go to sleep so he could wake up at 4:00 am to go to work the next day. It was a very hectic time for all of us when mom was sick and it affected all of us and especially dad. He was wonderful through it all because he did what he had to do and he never complained or showed his emotion. He maintained a tough exterior and he held himself up because he knew he had to be strong. I think having to weather all of this eventually took its toll on him but he would never tell you that.

We know that mom loved us all and she was always there for us but we know she suffered terribly through her mental illness and was over medicated to the point where she became a shell of her former self. We had gone through the range of emotions that families go through with the highs and lows of mental illness and it was quite a wake up call and a very sad and difficult time. We didn't know really how best to help her and we relied on the psychiatrist who seemed to prescribe something else to try and help her. She had so many side effects from all the different types of medication she was prescribed that she needed additional prescriptions to counteract the side effects. It was just awful what she went through and we felt so angry and frustrated and helpless with the care she received. We lost her way to early and we never really had our dad at 100% because when mom died part of dad died as well.

Knowing how strong dad was throughout the years after mom died was such a testament to him as he was truly a survivor and he had all of us on his mind. Dad was such a kind and gentle person who was always there for us and he always made it a point to visit mom at the cemetery. I know when I saw my dad at mom's funeral it just broke my heart knowing how much he loved her and all of us and how he would always be at the hospital to visit mom. He would never miss a visit. He was very special.

In life I learned that we do not have any guarantees and there are so many uncertainties and sometimes not knowing and worrying about finances or how you will be able to provide for your family can really take its toll on you. I've seen it destroy my mom and dad and I've seen it rob them of so much. It really makes me wonder sometimes why things have to be so painful and why there is so much sadness in the world. I try my best to shield my son from all this but the reality is life is a struggle and their is so many people suffering today. It is a common fact that when you are dealing with these kinds of uncertainties and worries and you feel you have no control of the situation it can lead to very unfortunate circumstances and we try to deal with these times as best we can but the reality is that people do succumb to them as my dad did and he felt the only way out for him was suicide. I have done my fair share of crying for my dad because I know he was such a great husband and father and we were so lucky having him in our lives and we were always protected from all his hard work, support, love and dedication.

I believe my responsibilities to my family are the same and I need to make sure I provide them with all the comforts of a home, financial security, love, emotional support and strength like my dad had shown. I have a son who needs so much help in dealing with all his medical concerns and I need to make the right choices and not feel the burdens and pressures that would lead me to tip the scale the wrong way and lose everything in the process. I have to be strong like my dad was and I wish to be here for my son to see him graduate and hopefully lead a life where he will be able to take care of himself. If I can not do this then I would have failed and I can not as my love for my wife and son is what keeps me going and I need to be here for them. I wish to do all I can for Matthew and provide him good values and instill in him confidence and a feeling that he is in good hands and protected.

Matthew, I love you and your mommy very much and I promise you I will never fail you. You are my inspiration and I will make it my life's work to help you in your life.

Love always,

Your Dad.

Edward D. Iannielli III

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The magic of a photograph!

They are 2 pictures side by side and they have special meaning to me and are proudly displayed in our living room. Why you ask do these photos have special meaning? There are many reasons why and I will say the main reason is because it gives me comfort and it brings me back to a day when I was young and I had my mom and dad in my life. We are very moved by family photographs and love the magic of looking at them and remembering the days long gone and the precious youth portrayed. I am so happy to have these 2 precious pictures of my mom and dad. The picture of my mom is a portrait of a beautiful young girl posing for her high school yearbook and it is very captivating. She is 17 years old and it is a black and white picture that just presents all her beauty and innocence. At times I have a tear in my eye when I look at it because I think of how much I miss my mother and how much I needed her. The other picture is a magnificent one of my dad working on the Verrazano Bridge in the early 1960's and it also is in black and white and it shows his youth, his courage and his dedication. I am truly amazed when I view it and I have such pride and realize how much my dad's work meant to him. He loved working on the high iron and was a very proud iron worker. He had no fear in his work or at least he never admitted his fear. He was very proud to play a part in construction and he leaves so much of himself with all that he worked on.

As I view these pictures of my mom and dad I smile and I remember all the wonderful things my parents did and how we were so lucky. I am very proud of my parents and am so lucky to have such wonderful memories that will last me a lifetime.

Pictures are what connect us to our childhood, family celebrations, the holidays, joyous occasions, our school days, our friends and our children. I enjoy looking at our wedding photos and realizing that my wife is just as beautiful today as she was on our wedding day in her gorgeous gown. I love looking at pictures of Matthew when he was first born and how tiny and precious he was. We have so many pictures of him in his hospital bassinet with his blanket. I always enjoyed looking at pictures of Maria and myself holding Matthew for the first time. It is such an amazing feeling and is nice to have it captured in photographs.

The beauty of pictures in addition to bringing smiles to our faces is that they are fun to share with our children. I love showing my son pictures of my mom and dad when I was a young boy and also enjoy showing him pictures of me when I was a baby and a young boy and seeing his amazement knowing that I too was once his age. As I look at these precious photographs it brings a range of emotions and feelings that are personal and reflect my life as well as my family and it has a lot of meaning to me and I enjoy sharing this with my son to give him perspective.

I am saddened though because I remember having a full photo album of my parents when they were young including some of their wedding photos and lots of baby pictures of myself and my two sisters and somehow we lost them in our move and it has frustrated me and made me very upset as I lost a part of me that I can not replace and that is sometimes hard to deal with.

It is very important to capture the meaningful moments in our lives and photographs are the means to capturing and reliving those special times and remembering all of those who meant so much in our lives.

I always enjoyed looking back at my grade school pictures and seeing all my classmates lined up and all the cute girls. It jogs the memory and is very nostalgic looking back and remembering those times and the crushes I had on some of the cute girls in my classes. It scares me when I think back to my school days and realize I started school over 40 years ago! I sometimes wonder how the years flew by so fast.

We always make it a point to take current family pictures and pictures of our son so he will have the memories to share when he becomes a young man and one day wishes to show a girl who he likes pictures of him when he was a baby and of him growing through the years.

Life is a photograph and a photograph is life!

Edward D. Iannielli III

Monday, October 19, 2009

Was there a cry for help?

I believe when someone is experiencing severe difficulties that challenge their coping skills they search for ways to communicate their pain and worries through subtle hints if they can not handle it on their own. In some cases they may just keep it inside and not tell anyone, not even their family or closest friend. The one who does confide usually tells a close family member or friend known as a confidant. They entrust them with what they tell them and usually ask them to keep it private. If the person they tell is trustworthy they will honor their request and also may seek to try and get the troubled individual into some form of counseling or crisis intervention program. In cases when someone is troubled and not able to express it they tend to keep it inside. The problem is that eventually the "little problem" becomes a major dilemma in their mind and eventually may become so unbearable that they take drastic action.

I believe this was the case with my father. He was a very proud man who seldom talked about his feelings or opened up to family. He enjoyed talking with people but usually in general terms and never with regard to his personal matters. In trying to cope with my dad's unexpected death I tried to think back to recent conversations we had and our last family gathering at Easter to see if their were any clues that indicated something that would have set him off but I could not think of any one specific reason he would be so distraught he would take his life by leaping into the path of a speeding train. I just feel their are things we will never have an answer for and it is hard to find closure but we have to in some way let go and respect our loved one's choice and try to hold on to all the pleasant memories and not to think of the tragic loss. It is very hard to deal with death of someone so close but it is a fact of life that we will suffer loss and eventually we will be called too one day. The hardest thing I have had to face besides my mother's untimely passing is my dad's unexpected death by suicide. As time passes the pain subsides but it never goes away and the void is always there. I have noticed his absence many times and it is something I deal with everyday and I know my dad would not want me to be so upset but I do miss my dad very much and just knowing how he died really troubles me. I try to put it out of my mind and I am good at doing that and able to focus on my responsibilities. The problem is when I am alone or when I am with my son that is when we feel his absence because he would always reach out to me by a phone call to check in with me and he would always enjoy visiting and spending time with Matthew and I. I would also like to call him to talk and say hi and see how he was doing. I miss reaching for the phone to call him as well.

The one thing I learned from this tragedy is that you should never discount the feelings of someone if they are brave enough to open up and discuss them with someone by hinting or by direct conversation. Usually they are unable to express it and they keep it inside. This however is a major problem because if they never seek to help themselves they may succumb to their feelings and emotions and may at their most difficult time decide to take their life. In most cases when a tragedy like this occurs people close to the victim are often in shock and never expected it. It is a puzzle to them with missing pieces and no answers but lots of questions. Suicide is a very difficult thing to deal with and it affects so many people who knew the victim. It is a very sad and emotional pain and there are many stages the survivors bear in trying to grapple with it. It will take time to deal with it but the reality is that people who lose a loved one to suicide are deeply affected by it and it can not or should not be easily dismissed.

In having the opportunity of visiting at support group meetings for parents of ADHD and Autistic children my wife and I have heard disturbing stories of preteen age kids who have encountered many emotional and behavioral problems in their early lives and have expressed their wish to be out of their pain and wished they were dead or never born. This is a very rude awakening hearing parents talk about their children saying things like this and it really concerns me. We have heard Matthew talk like this too as he feels his problems are the result of having a brain that does not work right as he puts it. He sometimes says he wished he could get a new brain and if he can not then he wished he was not born or wished he could leave this place. It is very disturbing hearing a young child talk like this and I have to take my son seriously because I am worried and concerned for him and the pain I feel after losing my dad only makes me more worried and concerned.

We have addressed Matthew's behavioral and emotional disturbances by having him seen by a child psychologist and a child psychiatrist and we also have him on medication that helps him with his medical conditions. It is an uphill struggle with an autistic child and addressing their needs are so very important and I am trying my best to talk to my son to gauge his feelings and to get him to talk with me and Maria and the medical professionals. We want him to open up and express himself and I encourage him to be emotional and to cry if he has to. I believe boys should be able to express themselves too and I do not ever want my son to keep things to himself. I want him to be expressive and I will never discount anything he says. I am concerned for his well being and I will always be there to talk and listen. We must always know as parents and friend when someone may be crying for help or attention. It is so important and it is best to address it earlier than later as timing is everything.

Edward D. Iannielli III

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Renewing old friendships.

Whenever you have the opportunity to reacquaint with friends from your past it is a very important and wonderful thing to do because it brings you full circle with friends you have not seen in many many years and allows you the opportunity to catch-up and talk about things that you remember from those days and it seems time has not passed and for that brief time together it seems that those moments discussed seemed to have frozen in time and it seems like only yesterday we were living them.

I enjoyed an evening out at a friend's house from our high school days last night where we had an informal get together with some of our classmates and it was very nice. I had the opportunity to talk and share memories and look back at our year book and reminisce. It was nice to see that my friends all seemed to be doing well and were all happy to see each other and we talked and shared our experiences. We talked about our kids and our lives and our memories of high school and painful things as well. I was touched by everyone and was so happy to attend. I enjoyed talking about my family and boasted about my son and how lucky I am to have Maria and Matthew in my life. I showed some family pictures and felt good to see my friends from those special days of high school.

One of our friend's and his wife were deeply affected by family tragedy and I had talked to the wife as she revealed something very emotional and painful and I could not help but feel for them both as they had lost their 2 naturally born children due to illness at young ages and I felt very sad for them both and can not imagine the pain they feel and live with every day. They show such an inner strength and courage to continue on though they must deal with their loss every day. They are wonderful people as they have adopted their other children and provide them a loving and caring home. I was deeply touched by their strength, courage and their outlook. It really made me think and realize how people all have their crosses to bear and they try their best to keep their emotions in check and live their lives despite the pain they feel. I was also touched by the wife as she related to me her interest in reading my blog and my life's experiences in raising an autistic child and she mentioned that she is touched by my writing and feel I am doing a good thing. She made me feel good and reinforced how important my writing is to me.

I also had the chance to talk with classmates I used to hang out with and played baseball with. It was nice to relate to them all once again and just enjoy each other's company. Even though we had not seen each other for so many years we had the good fortune of reuniting through facebook and our 30 year high school reunion which was this past August. It seems possible to remain friends and to arrange future times together now and I feel that is something worth doing because these people all are wonderful and it is always nice to have friends and what better friends then the ones you grew up with and went to school with. It makes us realize how important family and friendship is and it makes us feel a bit younger reliving those days again.

I am pretty sentimental at gatherings and I wanted my friends to know that so I brought some cakes and on one of them I had inscribed "To my JFK friends of the class of '79" which garnered attention and cheers from all. It was a special moment and I told them that I meant it and was happy to see them all again.

In speaking with my friends I learned a little more about them and I was also touched by a friend of mine, David and his girlfriend who is younger than he is and is so very sweet. She is going through some personal issues as is my friend and they both have children from previous marriages. They are both wonderful people and I hope they find happiness as I think highly of them both and look forward to seeing them again as well. As for my friends Marty and Ira it was great to talk with them and just be there together at the table discussing the days when we valet parked or hung out at our friend Maury's house or when we played ball or posed for pictures in the year book. We talked about our jobs, our kids, future college plans for our children, September 11th and life. I also enjoyed our friend Adam who is a really nice guy and seems very happy. He is also very funny and enjoys singing and would be a very funny stand up comedian as he has good timing and is very spontaneous.

Our host Bari was very nice and made the night special as she extended a warm and gracious welcome to all of us and made it possible for all of us to talk and share memories with some of our classmates and their wives or friends. I felt bad towards the end of the night when I felt a little sick and unfortunately had to leave prematurely. I thanked everyone and expressed my wishes to see each other again in the future as it is nice to stay in touch and renew our friendships. It was a special night!

Edward D. Iannielli III

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Your inner child.

I have experienced great joy in my life as a child with a wonderful upbringing and a loving family. My parents are my inspiration and my source of strength. My sisters are my siblings and my best friends. We have a bond with each other that is strong and will last through our lifetime as we are very close and very respectful and loving of each other. We will always love our parents and always be grateful to them for giving us life and giving us love and an inner strength that comes from their struggles and the love in their heart. I always enjoy thinking of my childhood and remembering all the wonderful times we had together as a family. Now that our parents are gone it has made me do a lot of soul searching, a lot of crying, a lot of introspection, a lot of writing and a lot of thinking.

I am a father and a husband and I have the interests of my family as my uppermost priority. I am living my life with love, dedication, devotion, courage and joy. I find as we age we start to prepare for our future and the future for our children. We need to have realistic planning and goals set to adequately meet our desired results. As I see my son grow and his needs become more evident I know it is our responsibility to provide him with security, emotional support, love, guidance and an inner strength that will be his moral compass in his life.

As I have grown I have learned that we are destined to experience many ups and downs in our life and we must be strong in our mindset to get through the difficult times. We try to shield our children and protect them from these times and sometimes we don't always know the best way to answer their questions or comfort them when they are hurting because we all go through the same range of emotions and we all are different in how we reconcile them within ourselves.

I have always felt the same as I aged and though I am considered middle age I still have the same feelings and emotions I had as a young boy and feel like I am still that little boy. My inner child is part of me and influences how I approach life, make decisions, talk to my wife, guide my son, relate to others and handle life's challenges. I feel a deep connection to my emotions and feelings and realize I am sensitive and have compassion and love in my heart. I feel a strength and a purpose and I am also very respectful and honest with people. I try to live my life with vision, kindness, dedication, honesty, spirituality, love, devotion and wisdom. I feel we are on a journey and we are here to do all we are supposed to and when we do so then we are called away as we have concluded our mission here and we have guided our loved ones and gave our children our best. It is this truth that we struggle with. We live life with uncertainty and worry because we just don't know but we live with the plan that we will be here to celebrate another day with our loved ones.

In dealing with the challenges we have defense mechanisms that we call upon to help us. We may not always handle a particular situation with the best of choices but this is how we learn and mature. There sometimes are no right or wrong answers. We sometimes are guided by emotion and when we deal with sadness it is a learning process and we have to confront all the emotions we are experiencing, the doubts we encounter, the guilt we are feeling and the fear we have. To find the courage to heal from all the pain we feel we must dig deep and summon our inner strength and choose to make difficult decisions. We must also remember that we need to be easy on ourselves and let time pass naturally so we can try our best to move on but never forget.

I believe that we all are striving to connect with our inner child and that is how we truly find strength, courage and healing. After all we all are innocent as children and full of hope and promise and we envision going back to the time when we had wide eyes full of excitement as little children and a truly happy disposition. After all we all are striving to do our best and to find happiness in our lives and give that gift of happiness to our children. We can do that when we are in touch with our inner child.

Edward D. Iannielli III

A life inspired.

As we experience things in our life we learn and gain perspective. We develop ideals and try to look at our surroundings and our place in life and at times try to look beyond ourselves and our needs to envision what life is like for those who are starving, without shelter and suffering. Unfortunately in the world we live in there is a lot of pain and misery and so much poverty and sadness. I sometimes feel guilty that I get caught up in my life and our needs as a family. I do admit life does seem a bit selfish because we all seek self preservation and must survive and do what we have to in life to provide for our families and loved ones. I always remember my mom would say very wisely that charity does begin at home and she was absolutely right. I always consider the needs of myself and my family first as that is what we learn is most important. I also know we should try as best we can to help others in need as well. It only takes a simple act of kindness whether it be giving an extra amount beyond what you normally give in a church offering or buying food during the holidays and throughout the year beyond your shopping needs and packing it nicely and bringing it to the local food pantry to help feed a needy family.

I learned a lot from the hard work and dedication of my parents and how they always put our needs first. My parents both worked hard to provide for my sisters and I and I see the place I am in life and realize I would not be as fortunate if it wasn't for the love and support of my parents. They taught me a lot and they gave me so much and I am a better person or try to be because of my parents. They instilled in me that we should always be appreciative for what we have, we should always be responsible, we should always consider the needs of ourselves and our family first, we should strive to be the best we can, we should always respect who we work for and put forth our best effort and finally we should lead a morally principled life and consider helping others in practical ways.

I also learned a lot from my dad and my mom in how we should view our work responsibilities and take pride in what we do. I take my work responsibilities very seriously because I was educated with the help of my parents through their hard work and dedication and their selflessness. I am very dedicated to my work responsibilities also because I enjoy what I do, like to be challenged, enjoy the rapport with my employer, staff and clients and because it is necessary for me to work so I can provide for my family and see that my son is well taken care of. I live to be there for my son and my son gives me true inspiration.

It is because of my son, who has so many challenges and so much love in his heart that I live my life everyday with love in my heart for him and my family and I am truly inspired because of him. It is for him that I put forth my best effort in everything I do. I love my son and would do anything to help him and give him the support and encouragement he needs in his life. I am so grateful for my son and for my wife who gave birth to him and made my life so much more richer and meaningful.

I also am connected to my dad in many ways and am always reminded of him through all the great things he did as an iron worker and I learned a lot about courage, dedication, hard work and I am inspired everyday by him and his memory. I also am inspired by my mom and the love she gave us and for the strength and courage she had in her life.

To me it is very important to have a purpose and to be driven and by having a clear focus and through our personal needs I am mindful of what is important and what we live for. It is for many reasons that I live my life to do my best and to strive to be a wonderful husband, father, provider and a person who truly cares for his family and others. I know from personal experiences what I have to do to make my life whole so I can focus on my family and others and live an inspired life. To me focusing on my son and helping him with his many challenges is my life's mission and my most important priority. I am inspired by the love I have for my son and it is the love I have for my wife and our family that grounds me and makes me very responsible.

Dedicated to my son with love and to my wife who I admire and am so grateful for and will love today, tomorrow and forever!

Edward D. Iannielli III

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A child's innocence.

Childhood is such a wonderful and precious time for us as parents. As adults we really enjoy seeing the innocence and the joy of childhood through our children and that is the best gift we could ever ask for. For us thinking back to when we were children we realize how we were connected to our parents and needed them in every aspect of our life as they were responsible for our upbringing, our safety, our shelter, our development, our education, our interpretation and views and our early life experiences. We were literally dependent on our parents from the day we were born through our early adulthood.

As children we are influenced by our parents and our surroundings and we are very impressionable and have an innocence and we view our parents as special and very important in our life. As adults if we are blessed to marry and have a child we learn immediately upon our child's birth how much we need to be responsible as our newborn baby is dependent on us in every way just like we were to our parents when we were born. I remember when Matthew was an infant I would take great joy seeing him sleep comfortably in his crib and I would watch how Maria cared for him and I knew our son was so precious and needed us as we needed him. I enjoyed knowing he felt comfortable and was sleeping so peacefully and I loved to see his tiny arm movements and his little yawns and hearing his cries and seeing him calm down as we came to satisfy his needs. Raising an infant is an ongoing learning experience that will challenge us, exhaust us, teach us and most of all will bring us together so we can provide our best and give our child all our love and devotion.

I remember when Matthew was a baby I would love to lay next to him on our bed and play lullaby music and just feel so in tune with him, not having a worry in the world for that brief moment in time as it was just my son and I and it was a truly incredible feeling. Once he had fallen asleep then Maria and I would gently place him in his crib next to our bed and we would settle in for the night. It seems that the time from infancy to toddler is a long time filled with many diaper changes, lots of crying, lots of spitting up, lots of fevers, lots of sleepless nights and lots of times running out to the store for formula and diapers. As I think back to that time I wouldn't trade it in for anything as that was a wonderful time in our lives as we were learning what it is to be loving and caring parents. In thinking back to that time it seemed to last a while but in retrospect it flew by and is now a distant memory. Our son is now in middle school and he is maturing and growing and becoming a wonderful young boy with such a caring and kind way about him. He is very empathetic and feels it is his duty to come to the aid of a child when he sees them crying and he tries to calm them and comfort them. Matthew has such a youthful innocence about him and despite his autism he seems to enjoy reaching out to others and does display a side of him that is quite impressive as he does interact and conduct himself in a very mature way and is very respectful.

Matthew is 10 years old and he still believes in Santa Claus and gets all excited as he writes out his Christmas list. It is a nice time and it makes the holidays special when your child still believes which speaks for his innocence and his spirit. Our son is such a truly special kid and he just fills our heart with such joy. We just feel so happy to see Matthew grow and mature and have such innocent ways. He is so special to us and makes our role as parents a pleasure.

I like to think back to Matthew's milestones like when he said his first word, or when he crawled for the first time, or when he said mama and dada for the first time, or when he started walking. These are wonderful times in a child's life and they are even more wonderful as a parent witnessing it. I remember when Matthew learned to ride a bicycle for the first time and when he went sleigh riding in the snow for the first time down the hill at the park. These are wonderful memories that will last me through my lifetime and I will replay them in my mind as I get older and remember back to the time when our son was so young, innocent and so totally dependent on us.

The joys in raising a child is seeing them come into their own and developing their own distinctive personality. We as parents find it difficult seeing our children grow so fast and we wish we could enjoy the time with our kids when they are young and try to spend as much time with them as we can because you can never get that time back. I always think of that Harry Chapin song, The Cat's in the Cradle and it makes you realize how important it is to spend time with your son when he is young because he won't be that age always and we know that our son will be an adult one day with responsibilities. This is why I do not want to rush Matthew's childhood. I prefer that he maintain that youthful innocence and enjoy his childhood because once you outgrow your childhood you lose that innocence and you are having to take on more and more responsibilities as you grow and take on the challenges of school, peer pressure and growing into young adulthood.

We are enjoying our son and we will always enjoy our son and seeing him grow. Life is so wonderful when you have a child. It gives you the best reason to wake up every day and do all you can for your child.

Edward D. Iannielli III