Sunday, November 8, 2009

The loneliness of autism: the internal struggle

I believe that we are all in need of making connections and being accepted and loved. We all enjoy when we are appreciated and given respect for all the good we do. We usually strive to be our best as that comes from an internal drive that is developed as we grow and experience life and it is what guides us and gives us the determination and courage to hang in there and do the very best we can. Our internal makeup is what determines how we relate to others and how we live our lives. We all have the ability to achieve our goals and to make friendships and to find happiness in our lives and we must always remember that we have to be positive and trust ourselves and also respect who we are and stay within ourselves.

In raising Matthew we realize he has so many wonderful qualities that make him so very special and we feel he has such an innocence about him. He has a real boyish youth and is a bit sensitive but that is a wonderful trait and I believe makes him more special because it allows him to reach out to others and to be empathetic. We do not know how our son became susceptible to autism and epilepsy but we know that he does have many setbacks because of it and we are always looking to help him through these difficult times and realize that he needs all of our attention and support and we are able to give him it because we love him and care for his well being. It would be much more difficult if we had the responsibility of caring for another child in addition to our son. I do have some mixed feelings about this because a part of me would love to have another child in our life and feel Matthew would benefit tremendously with a sibling. However the reality is that we are getting older and the age gap is getting greater and the risks as a woman gets into her late 30s and early 40s hoping to get pregnant becomes more riskier. Our son to us is perfect and our precious little baby who brings joy to us every day. We are truly blessed having him in our lives.

As Matthew's father I have seen from an early age that he preferred doing things by himself and although he does seem to interact well enough with others on good days he prefers to be alone. I know I felt similar in wanting to be alone in my childhood as well so I can't offer him the best advice in helping him change but as a concerned dad I do talk to him about the importance of participation and making friendships. He understands what I say and he knows but he is more comfortable being alone and he enjoys occupying his time with things that are familiar to him and gives him a sense of security. As an autistic child he is resistant to change and he likes to have consistency from day to day. He has very little patience and gets easily frustrated when he is having difficulty with something. We try to calm him down and emphasize that patience and dedication are 2 attributes that are very important and should always be used throughout his life.

I believe we all have our internal struggles and we are sometimes filled with self doubt and tend to shy away from things but we do not have to let this overwhelm us to the point where we can not function. We have to be strong in our mind and in our heart and must find the strength and courage and determination within us to live our life and strive for success and happiness.
I am very concerned for Matthew's development and socialization and know that as a parent we wish to see our child actively participating and finding many interests and having many friends. We have seen Matthew make some progress but we also know of his limitations and although we never state that he has limitations in front of him we do realize that he has to improve in these areas if he is going to have more experiences. We know that sports is not something he shows interest in so we have to find other areas that will enable him to share a part of himself and actively participate and help him in his social growth and his psychological well being. It is not always so easy and as a parent we tend to worry for our child and are not always so clear headed.

Once we can help Matthew understand through the counseling he goes for and get him to find activities outside of school that will help him we will feel that he will make continued improvement and will be able to confront his internal struggles and tackle them one by one so he can find a happy medium and start enjoying things which kids are all entitled to do. We always teach Matthew to appreciate his childhood because it is fleeting and you can never get it back. Believe me when I say I know this to be very true. My wife and I are far from perfect but our intentions are good and we want to do all we can for our son so he can enjoy his life and set goals and accomplish all the things that are important to him with no barriers getting in his way. He is autistic and he is very bright and a very sweet little boy who has so much potential and so much love in his heart!

Edward D. Iannielli III

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Please feel free to read my writings and leave a kind message or suggestion. Thank you. Emily