Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Our family Christmas

I always enjoyed Christmas as a young child eagerly awaiting Santa's visit hoping I would receive the gifts I asked for in my letter to him that my mother so patiently waited for me to write. It is such a joyous time and when we are together with our family and the ones we love it makes it extra special. I have such wonderful memories of my early childhood Christmases. I remember my parents at a younger time in their lives and the love they held for each other and for my 2 sisters and I. We were a tight knit family and our parents were very loving and caring and provided us with all the comforts and encouragement we needed.

As a father of a young boy I find myself trying to do for him what my parents did for me. If I could give him the world I would and I would see to it that he is well protected in his life. We know it is so important to give our children the love and encouragement they need so they can grow and mature into their different stages of development. The most important part of childhood is the magical part which is the time of our innocence and our belief in things that only children can believe in. It is so important to let our children experience the joys of Christmas and the wonderment of Santa Claus. I made sure Matthew wrote his Christmas list to Santa just like my mother did with me when I was a young boy. He resisted initially because he felt Santa needs to visit those who have less than we have and he felt content with what he has. I am so very proud of Matthew for his loving compassion for the needy and less fortunate. In his list he asks for simple things like rolls of paper, puzzles and books with chapters.

I had my work cut out for me this Christmas as I was trying to balance the demands of work, the minor disruptions at home with leaking pipes that destroyed our kitchen floor, a failing hard drive that wiped out my programs and data that dated back over 10 years and the shopping demands for meeting the expectations of all my nieces and nephews for a Christmas that would have a sad tone to it this year with the abscence of my dad. As I usually find myself at this time of year it is Christmas Eve early in the day and I am preparing for a day of intense shopping and dealing with the crowds and the chaos that only last minute shopping does provide. I happen to enjoy shopping at target because of their selections and pricing. After hours of walking down the toy aisles, movie aisles, book aisles and clothing aisles I managed to find something for everyone on my list. I was kind of enjoying the experience as I am feeling good finding things I think each and every kid would enjoy. I also was very happy to meet all of Matthew's requests with the exception of the rolls of paper which I knew my sisters were taking care of.

After a full day of shopping I was exhausted and looking forward to getting home and preparing for midnight mass which was about 5 hours away. I also knew I had a lot of gift wrapping to do which I feel is the hardest part because I have not done a very good job at it. I am always envious when I see the beautifully wrapped presents my wife and sisters have for Matthew with the overlaps just right and everything perfect with bow, label and all. My feeling is as long as the gift is wrapped no matter how uneven and that it is concealed so the element of surprise is there then it really doesn't matter how neat it is because the kids are going to unwrap it quickly anyway.

This year as far as celebrities and movies go I found myself buying gifts such as music and books relating to Michael Jackson, Hannah Montanna, the Trans-siberian Orchestra and Twilight. I also bought a model train set, remote control cars, the Hess car, puzzles, dvds and books for all on my list trying my best to please everyone. In the spirit of Christmas and with my son's insight I also bought several toys earlier in the month for needy kids that were given to the Toys for Tots campaign. It is always important to remember the less fortunate at this time of year and really throughout the year as well.

I also managed to make our family Christmas card after taking a picture of my son in the backyard during our pre winter season blizzard and designed it on a popular website and was very pleased with it. The cards went out the day after Christmas but at least they went out as I enjoy acknowledging the wonderful cards we receive from family and friends.

I reminded Matthew as he was preparing to go to bed that he needed to set out a plate of cookies and a glass of milk for Santa and dishes of water for his reindeer. Matty was all excited as he eagerly awaited his visit like I used to do so many years ago. He was very generous with the amount of cookies and milk he left Santa and even left a note that he could have more if he was still hungry.

As Matthew went up to bed I told him to sleep and in the morning we would open up the presents. I then started bringing in all the presents and left them by the tree with all the wrapping utensils. I was not yet ready to start wrapping them as I was planning to go to midnight mass and wanted to relax a little bit watching the tv. It was peaceful and quiet and I find Christmas eve a special time and a very exciting time as it brings me back to the happy times of my childhood and reminds me of how wonderful my parents were to my sisters and I as they always made our Christmases so special. It was time to go to mass as I enjoy the midnight mass ceremony as the first mass of Christmas with the singing and the beauty of the pagentry. I always try to lead a proper and religious life and sometimes fall away from the church but I do believe and am always happy to be at church when I go, especially at Christmastime. I listen to the priest as he speaks of the baby Jesus and Mother Mary and Joseph the carpenter. It is a very joyous time celebrating the birth of our lord Jesus. This is the very true meaning of Christmas and this is what I want Matty to understand. I always enjoy singing Joy to the World at Christmas mass and seeing all the girls dressed for the occasion. It is a special day and a day we cherish. At Christmas mass when we extend our hands to one another we wish each other a Merry Christmas. As mass ended and the crowd was leaving I was admiring the church and the tree and the nativity scene. I wished all the priests a Merry Christmas and went home to wrap the presents.

As I arrived home I had the task of wrapping all of Matthew's presents first. We managed to buy him things he asked for and things we felt he would like. I knew he would love the train set and the racing car track. I also bought him lego sets and 500 piece puzzles and some of his favorite movies on dvd. He can never have enough board games so we bought him Monopoly and Scrabble and Yahtzee and his favorite game Sorry with a Sponge Bob theme. We also got him the Hess car. My wife bought him more practical things such as shirts and pants and shoes. I was lucky my mother in law awoke and helped me with wrapping the presents. It took us about 3 hours to wrap and we still had to wrap for some of the other nieces and nephews which I said we can do tomorrow.

As my mother in law turned in for bed I stayed up a little longer to watch a Christmas movie and then finally fell asleep around 4:30 am knowing that Matthew would want to open his presents early in the day. Before I drifted off to sleep I kissed my wife goodnight as she was asleep for several hours already having wrapped her presents early in the day. I dreamed of my son waiting for Santa to arrive and of Maria and I continuing his dream and belief in Santa as that is a precious gift. The gift of childhood innocence. As we slept we awaited Christmas day all together opening up our presents. This was still a few hours away so I slept peacefully and felt very content with my wife and son who I love so very much.

Merry Christmas!

Edward D. Iannielli III

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The voice of an Angel

It's not often we are touched by a song or a performance that brings us to tears so when it happens it truly is a remarkable thing. I often enjoy music and can listen to it with many people around me in a public place such as a concert or alone when I am driving in my car listening to the radio or a cd. To me music is a very important facet of life and it helps connect us to many times and moments in our life. I have a real connection to the music of Trans-Siberian Orchestra because it brings me back to the time of my son's birth. I also cherish the music of the 60's and 70's because it reminds me of my childhood and brings me back to those happy days.

Since I started driving a car at 18 years old I always enjoyed listening to the music as I would drive whether it was down the block to the store, on my way to work or on a long road trip down to Virginia, South Carolina or Florida or on the west coast in California. It's the music that makes the drive more enjoyable and makes the times more memorable.

My mother enjoyed singing and I have fond memories as a young child when my mom would sing me to sleep. Those were my most favorite times. My mom loved to sing and I always loved listening to her voice. I find it interesting that my wife Maria also likes to sing and loves Karaoke and her favorite music is country. I enjoy listening to her sing and remember when she too would sing Matthew to sleep as a baby. We always encourage Matthew to sing when he is in the mood because he has a nice voice and it is a wonderful thing to express yourself through song and if a child can feel comfortable singing in front of others it will help them with their shyness and help them with their self esteem also.

As the father of an autistic child I am always happy to see when other autistic children have developed talents that take them places and help them teach others. I am very impressed with the young girl Gina Marie Incandela, who also is autistic and is a very talented singer and is well known for performing at sporting events singing the National Anthem. She has such a beautiful voice and is such a pleasure to watch perform and I have shown my son videos of her performances and he is so very impressed and so proud of her achievements.

I was never blessed with the talent of singing or playing a musical instrument so when I listen to music from well known artists or amateurs I really enjoy listening and being touched by their work. I have grown to enjoy the concept of giving amateurs the chance to showcase their talent in a tv talent competition. You can see how serious these unknown performers are and how they welcome the opportunity. One of my favorite artists that went from unknown to overnight sensation was Kelly Clarkson who got noticed from her performance on American Idol and was the very first winner of the show. Since her win on American Idol the show has launched her career and the careers of many other talented performers and has provided a great deal of entertainment.

The popularity of American Idol has also launched the series in Europe with Britain's Got Talent and the most remarkable performance was that of a 47 year old woman who by appearance was considered a non serious candidate by the audience as they laughed as she spoke. Even the judges including Simon rolled their eyes and didn't know what to make of her. She seemed sweet as she introduced herself to the panel and the audience and she was very proud by the way she conducted herself. As the judges asked her a few questions and she politely replied it was now time for her to perform. Before she started to sing it was obvious she seemed to want the stage and to have this opportunity based on her behind stage interview.

The moment she gave the cue to start and started to sing it was like heaven and earth collided as she drew everyone in with that angelic voice she was blessed with and all her dreams from when she was a 12 year old girl were all of a sudden happening in that instant. She not only shined in that moment but brought tears to the eyes of so many people and in the process touched so many people from across the vast landscape of England and all of Europe to across the Atlantic to the States. She was so incredible in that performance and she really touched everyone in the audience and the panel of judges were in a state of shock. It was the most incredible performance I ever saw and I literally had tears in my eyes and no matter how many times I watch her performance I well up with tears in my eyes as her performance is so touching and her voice is such a pleasure to listen to. The woman who touched so many with her voice and her incredible talent is Susan Boyle and I am so very happy for her as she is so inspiring and has such a wonderful gift to share. She is truly amazing and I am so touched and inspired by her story. I made sure I picked up her debut cd for my wife as a Christmas present as I know how much my wife loves to sing and we both felt her story is so compelling.

It is not often that someone touches us as profoundly but Susan Boyle really did and I am so delighted to learn of her and to hear her music and that angelic voice as she really has touched us and we thank her very much for that and thank Britain's Got Talent for discovering her.

Edward D. Iannielli III

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Our beauty comes from within and our joy comes from our children

Life for many is a long road of discovery with many detours and alternate routes to choose from. It is about finding ourselves and how we relate with others. We are always learning and gaining insight and developing as our own person and our inner feelings and our experiences help in shaping who we are. We need to be loved, respected, heard and counted on so we can fully experience what is so wonderful about our lives and we need to share who we are and never run from it. Life is about living and sharing and reaching out to others and finding peace and happiness and tapping into the beauty of our selves that comes from within. When we open up and fully achieve the inner peace and happiness we are seeking we will find the true meaning of life and will realize how special we are and how important it is to be true and honest and to reach out to others and share a part of ourselves. We will find that when we relate to others we are able to share ourselves and we can then help touch others and also be touched by the actions and commitment of others and also seek the answers to the questions we are faced with throughout our travels on the roads and superhighways of life.

In seeing my son, Matthew on the very first day of his life when I was with Maria and she delivered him with all the doctors and nurses there and all the commotion in the delivery area I was truly amazed and had tears streaming down my cheeks for I was now a dad and I was so overcome with joy. I suddenly realized I had so much to learn in raising a baby with my wife and also felt this emotional bond with Maria and Matthew, our newborn little boy which was and is the most wonderful, incredible, spiritual, happiest and most joyous time of my life and I will forever be grateful for this most incredible opportunity. Words can not always express how we feel and when I was going through the wonders of our son's birth I just felt so at peace and in a wonderful place and moment in my life. I felt something I never felt before and it will always remain with me because that is without question the happiest day in my life. It is a day I enjoy reliving and thinking back to and it always brings a smile to my face and makes me realize the most important things in life.

Our son Matthew is so beautiful in every way and I remember placing his hand in my hand when he was an infant and I was just so amazed at how tiny and how perfect he was. It is just so enlightening to see a baby and to realize they are part of us and we are part of him or her and our hearts grow with all the love we hold for our baby. The love of our baby is the most precious gift we can ever receive and share because it is a wonderful time and before you know it that time is past in the blink of an eye given the hectic nature of our lives. We derive such joy and happiness in raising a child and it by far is the most interesting and exciting time we will ever experience and we will most certainly miss it when the time passes by. That is why it is so very important to fulfill all your dreams and desires in raising your child and always give them your full undivided attention and all the love you hold for them. It is so special to have those times together as a family and it is all worth it. I am by far a more caring and loving person and I approach my life with more purpose and happiness as the proud father I am of our son Matthew (Matty).

I would say my intentions as Matthew's father are always good and I am realizing the importance of spending as much time with him as I can. We all have responsibilities and pressures in our lives but must also remember that our children are the most special and most important part of our lives and no matter what happens we must always remember that and do all we can to protect and nurture our children. Our children are our gift that helps us become better as human beings and help us to learn the special things and most important things in life.

My parents were my connection to this place we live in and they were wonderful and truly committed in raising my sisters and I and I firmly promise to do my best with Maria for our son, Matthew because we love him and are so happy to have him in our lives. We are truly blessed and I am always very emotional whenever I have the opportunity to talk of my wife and son for they are what makes my life so wonderful and purposeful. In the Christmas season we all try to be better as people and reach out and go that extra step and I feel since Matthew's birth I always felt this way. May we all be so blessed! Peace and Joy to all!

Edward D. Iannielli III

Monday, December 21, 2009

Matty's Christmas List

Tis the season to share and to celebrate as family the joys of togetherness and our love and devotion to our children. It is the time of Christ's birth which is a very spiritual time of the year and a time where we enjoy being together and exchanging presents with our loved ones. It is a time when we prepare our children for Santa Claus's arrival and make them aware that if they are to be visited by Santa they have to be good for the year.

Since my son is autistic he has occupied his time with creating lists of just about anything you can think of. He has found great joy in creating lists so when I asked him to make a list for this Christmas that we would mail to Santa I thought it would take him no time and that he would be so into creating it. So when I asked him to write his list I was quite surprised he still had not started it. When I asked him why he said he felt that Santa should be helping the less fortunate and that he did not want to receive a gift because he felt that there are too many poor children who have very little food and clothes and they should be the first on Santa's list. I was so impressed with my son's compassion and yearning to see the less fortunate helped that I was deeply touched.

I told him that God is trying to help all the people in the world and he wants us all to feel special in his eyes and that we should still write Santa because we are all children of God and we all deserve to be noticed for the good we do. As children we all look forward to the holidays when we are with our family and we get to open presents that are given to us as gifts and celebrate the true meaning and spirit of the holidays especially Christmas. Our son was born in the month of December so he receives gifts for his birthday and for Christmas. He is a great kid and is like most kids yet he seems very mature for his age and has such a sense about himself in that he wants to help people and make the world a better place to live. He gets very upset when he sees pictures of children malnourished and dying and wishes that he could help them to get the food and basic nutrition they need.

Matthew said he would make two lists for Christmas 2009. One was a list for the needy and the other list was for him as I asked him to write. In his list for the needy he really expressed his wishes and dreams that all the families who are struggling receive the love and support they need to keep their homes and provide for their families. Matthew said that we all should share in providing one thing to help others in need. He said something very profound and I am quite impressed with his dreams and his vision in helping to make things better for the less fortunate. He envisions that if we all could do one deed to help someone and we provide them with the love, support and friendship they need and we multiplied that one act of human kindness by the actions of others who feel the same way we would certainly have accomplished something very positive and would see how this would certainly help others.

I feel Matthew has grown and matured a great deal despite his autism and his personality really shines because he really is very caring and always wants to help others. For this reason alone I told Matthew that this is why Santa needs his Christmas list so he can recognize his kindness and his good deeds and reward him for it.

Matthew's Christmas list was written with the innocence and the sincerity of a child who truly believes and it is precious and I will fulfill some of his wishes by seeing that he gets money, rolls of paper, pencils, dominoes, books and family board games. He certainly deserves the items he requested and we are so proud of him because he is a terrific kid and he makes Christmas for us so special!

Merry Christmas to all, especially Matthew, our wonderful son!

Edward D. Iannielli III

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The importance of fitting in

As a father I always try to teach my son the important things in life and support him in all he does. I am always trying to instill in him the proper values and proper behaviors he should follow and that he should always accept others and try never to lose his patience and that he should always have heart in all he tries and to never give up. I also wish to teach my son the importance of fitting in and being committed to finding things of interest so he can develop and establish skills and confidence which will enable him to make friends.

When you find something that interests you and that can help make you a better person and help you in developing and maturing and establishing friendships you should stick to it because that is so very important and should always be a priority. I certainly can relate things in my life as a young boy that helped me acquire self confidence and also made me a better person and I try to relate these experiences to my son so he can learn and make choices. I also try to tell my son that at times we also appreciate our alone time and we do cherish our privacy as well. It is important to know how to balance both because we should have times where we can be alone but most importantly should have times where we are participating and enjoying the company of others.

When you develop self confidence and feel good about yourself you can then find joy in participating in activities that interest you and provide you with positive experiences and enable you to make friends and learn important things such as competition, teamwork, friendship and most of all the fun and excitement in participating with others and fitting in as a member of a group.

The joys of childhood are a very meaningful time in our life and help form us as individuals. What we learn in our childhood stays with us for the rest of our lives and are what help shape us and teach us about ourselves and how we interact with others. My earliest childhood experiences have been a major factor in my life and have shaped me as a person and I know my son has made choices in his young life based on his feelings and experiences as a young child like I have.
If I could teach my son one thing that would make a difference in his life it would be to have trust in his abilities and himself as a person and to know that he has so much to be proud of. My parents always made me realize how important it is to believe in yourself and to never give up. This is what I learned as a child from my parents and this is what I want my son to learn in his youth as well which he will apply in his adulthood which will make him grow and mature and give him a sense of accomplishment. After all this is what we all seek in our lives is a sense of accomplishment.

It is so very important to realize that everything we accomplish and achieve is based on all we learn as children. It is so crucial to tap into our inner being as a child and nurture it for it is our way of expressing who we are and our way of learning who we are and how we relate to others. Our childhood is the most important aspect of our life and that is why it is so important to teach our children and always be there to help them and most importantly to listen to them for this is how they learn by interacting first with us and then with their teachers and their peers.

Edward D. Iannielli III

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Let it snow, Let it snow, Let it snow!

As I look out our door from the inside where it is cozy and warm and I see the snow quietly falling at a pretty rapid clip and feel the cold air on my cheeks I can't help but feel an excitement and joy I felt as a child when I would love to peer outside the door and watch the snow fall. It brings me back to the day when I was a young kid and my parents were my source of protection and comfort. They were truly wonderful and made me always feel safe. As we prepare for a major snow blizzard where the current forecast predicts accumulations of up to 24 inches I am feeling like a kid again and will make sure I take Matthew outside to play in it and take pictures of our first snow of the season which happens to be occurring 2 days before the official start of winter season.

These are the moments that stand out in our lives and we will remember them throughout our lifetime. We will be talking of this storm for many years and my son will be able to tell his children of this unexpected snowstorm when we were hit with a major blizzard a week before Christmas in 2009.

I first learned of this storm only yesterday not even realizing the magnitude of it. I am feeling the excitement and anticipation of a major weather event and looking forward to the next day when we can go outside and see the beauty and splendor of nature's snow across the landscape. I look forward to walking with my son outside in the street and taking it all in. I remember a major blizzard we had back in 1978 when I was in high school and in 1994 when I was working in Brooklyn's Starrett City and we had 3 snow days missing work. I remember walking on Merrick Road, a major roadway with a friend with virtually no cars on the road in 1994. It was completely buried in snow and I just was amazed being able to experience this as it is very rare.

These are the times we cherish with our children and the snow makes it extra special and gives us the feeling of joy and happiness but we must always remember that as beautiful the snow is it can be very dangerous because of the cold temperatures and the icing conditions. We also need to take care in shovelling the snow because many people are susceptible to health concerns because of the physical activity exerted in moving the snow.

As I see the snow falling at a rapid clip from our door and I listen to the forecast on the weather channel and I am at home enjoying spending the time with my son in the living room I am so very happy as this is what the beauty of life and family is all about. I will have a mental image of this forever etched in my mind and will love looking at the photographs and seeing my son when he was just a kid enjoying the snow with his mom and dad on a day off and just playing and being a kid. It is a wonderful feeling and one that will forever be remembered and enjoyed for years and decades to come. As I tell my son as we look out the door realizing Christmas is a week a way and seeing the snow fall that we should enjoy this moment and that this is so exciting and we surely will enjoy tomorrow and for the night all we can say and think is "Let it snow, Let it snow. Let it snow!" This is a day to remember and a day to share with others. Enjoy the snow with your kids and be safe!

Edward D. Iannielli III

Thursday, December 17, 2009

For Matthew, my son

Matthew my son, you are my light, my shining beacon. You are my inner strength. I can have a hard day but when I see your smile my heart just beats stronger and my love grows with no boundaries as I forget what seemed difficult earlier. You teach me through your own wisdom and childlike innocence. It is with great pride and joy I speak of you and tell the world how much you and Maria mean to me. I am so very grateful for your smile, your insatiable desire to learn and for all your wonderful questions.

The love you hold within your heart is just as powerful as the love I hold within my heart for you and your mommy. You are what is right with the world. You are what is right with my life. You are what is right with me. You are the gift that makes my heart light shine.

My early memories of you are when your mom so proudly held you in her arms at the hospital to nurture and love you and to show you off to all.

I know you have your difficulties as we all do and I realize we don't see the world quite the same, as you have to adjust to the limitations that autism imposes on you. I do however know within my heart that we all have a purpose and a reason for our lives and so I say to you with a father's love that you should always follow your dreams and never be afraid. You are special in every way and you should never be discouraged and should always build upon your failures. Your life is just as important as any one else's and you should always remember that.

No matter how many times you are tested in your life always remember that you have something so very powerful. You have a lot of love in your heart and an inner beauty that always comes through and that will help guide you in your life.

You are my son. You are my love. You are my life.

God Bless you Matthew!

Love always and forever.

Mommy and Daddy

Edward D. Iannielli III

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The magic of Transiberian Orchestra and a special evening with my son and niece

It was another Friday and I was looking forward to the weekend like always and especially this Friday evening as I had three tickets to see Transiberian Orchestra with my son and niece at the Nassau Coliseum. I've been looking forward to seeing them all year long since I saw them last year in New Jersey with my son. We had such a great time then that we naturally wanted to see them again and I thought it would be nice to treat Kathryn too. It was exciting driving to the coliseum and as we were near the big event at the coliseum we hit a patch of traffic as it seemed everyone was heading there to see them perform. We were anticipating a fun time and we all were looking forward to the concert.

As we took our seats I was getting all excited for I remember their performance last year at the Izod center in New Jersey was tremendous and Matthew and I had such a wonderful time then. I ran out quickly to the concessions to get snacks before the concert started and we sat patiently for the next 20 minutes waiting and eagerly looking forward to the big event to start. Matthew was talking with Kathryn and holding on to his Sponge Bob doll and introducing him to all the patrons walking by us as they took their seats. They all got a kick out of it and greeted Matthew with a smile.

For me Transiberian Orchestra's music is very special because it reminds me of the time when I was travelling back and forth to Mercy Hospital where my wife and newborn son were. It was wonderful seeing Maria and our baby boy Matthew at the hospital during my visits and spending as much time with them as I could. As I would drive there and back home I would listen to the powerful and beautiful Christmas music of Transiberian Orchestra and feel an overwhelming peace and joy and state of wonderful happiness realizing I had a wife and now baby boy in my life. So when I took Matthew to the concert last year to see them I was immediately transported back to that very special time in my life and I could not help but cry at times as I listened to the very powerful and emotional music and started thinking back to when I would see Maria and our newborn son at the hospital. It was so very touching and truly one of the most special times I shared with Matthew as I held his hand at the concert and saw the joy on his face as we watched them perform and just get caught up in the moment.

This year's concert was also very special and it was much closer which was nice and convenient. We were amazed at how the group performed so intensely last year and we had so much fun just watching them and listening to their beautiful music and seeing the light and picture shows they presented. As soon as the concert started this year we knew we were in for a night of excitement and tremendous music. The concert started off with the presentation of a check donated by the group to a local Long Island charity which the group does every year and at every venue. They opened up with one of their popular Christmas songs and we were drawn in immediately. I just sat back and relaxed with my son and niece by my side and listened to the music as it brought me back in time again to the wonderful day my son was born. I just love Transiberian Orchestra and I have so much joy watching my son and niece having a fun time and taking in the music and the artistic light and picture shows. When you find a connection to a band and their music it makes the experience so much more meaningful and special. For the next 3 hours we were just so caught up in the group's performance and enjoyed every song and every moment. I am such a big fan of Transiberian Orchestra and see that Matthew is also. It is a wonderful thing to share an evening like this with your child and get caught up in the moment and just enjoy every song performed by the group.

As the concert reached its midpoint Matthew wanted to take a walk and use the facilities. We walked around while Kathryn stayed back at the seats and we walked the full length of the coliseum and purchased the group's first Christmas CD which was the one I listened to when Matthew was born. We headed back to our seats and had to walk carefully as it was dark. As we sat to watch the second half of the show I just had such a great feeling and thoroughly enjoyed watching the performances of such talented musicians. The unique quality of Transiberian Orchestra is they have a narrator telling us a story with each song the group performs and it really is an integral part of the show and makes it extra special. The group seemed they were just warming up and played one great song after another. It was truly amazing listening to such great songs and seeing the band playing one great song after another and feeling the Christmas joy and holiday spirit. I am now a big fan of Transiberian Orchestra and will plan to take my son every year at this time to see them perform as they put on such a tremendous performance and their music is so uplifting and incredibly beautiful to listen to.

As the band took time out to introduce each of their members we made sure we clapped as hard as we could to give them the recognition they deserve for performing so beautifully. We were enjoying every moment of the show and as they performed the last song of the night we stood up and clapped so hard as did everyone else and I just felt so lucky to have my son and niece at the show with me and all of us having such a joyous time. As we were leaving I asked Matthew and Kathryn how they enjoyed the show and they said they loved it. I asked them if they would like to go again next year and they both said they would with a resounding yes. As we were in the parking lot looking for our car Matthew started to sing one of their songs and said he loves their music and thanked me for a wonderful night. I hugged him tightly and gave him a kiss and said I love him very much and also told Kathryn we were happy she came too and she said she was very appreciative for the invitation to the show and would like to go again next year.

We learned the importance of togetherness and appreciation of talent as we were at the concert and found the experience a lot of fun and very memorable and all look forward to seeing them next Christmas and every year following that. They are the best musical show I have ever seen and will always welcome seeing them with my son and whoever else accompanies us.

Merry Christmas!

Edward D. Iannielli III

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Childhood is precious and magical

For most of us our childhood is a special time in our lives and when we think back to it and remember the happy occasions we shared with our parents and our family we are reminded how wonderful it is to be young and a kid again. That is why I am sad in a way knowing that our children seem to have to grow up sooner than we did as they are exposed to a lot more than we were as kids. It is much nicer being a kid, free of major responsibility and pressures that we typically encounter when we grow up. I am reminded of the times when it seemed my childhood passed in a flash and before I knew it I was caught up in the school years. It seemed school was our first experience outside of our safe surroundings of home and the introduction to responsibility and growing up. Once our formal education was complete we would then go off to college and then the working world. It seems the time we were kids went by too fast and in a way I feel my son is now at that stage in his life as a student in middle school with a more demanding schedule and a longer day in the class room. He is now 11 years old and is growing up in front of my very own eyes. I know it is important to start school early and be responsible and we teach Matthew that he should be dedicated to his school work and be very responsible. For the most part going to school is fun and it is one of the best times in our lives. School shields us from the outside world and provides us with the knowledge and the confidence to eventually take on the challenges we will encounter.

We want our son to enjoy his childhood for as long as he can and to enjoy doing kid things. We know he loves to play on the computer and to surf the internet. We need to always monitor his time on the internet and make sure he is protected. Matthew loves to watch his movie dvds and some of his favorite movies are the Disney movies like Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Lilo and Stitch and some of the classics like 101 Dalmatians, The Lion King and Snow White. It is nice to watch the movies together and spend time and just enjoy each others company and be kids. Matthew has a sensitive side with a caring disposition and he is a very good boy who has such a great personality. I love to see Matthew's drawings and his writings and am very happy to see he is progressing well in school and getting good grades. I feel it is important to enjoy school for what it is and not to get hung up on grades. It is the learning that is most important.

The beauty of childhood is the innocence and the magic. For when we are children we are visited by the tooth fairy when we lose a tooth. We are easily pleased as children as we don't ask for much. The joy of riding a bicycle for the first time is purely magical to a child. Birthday celebrations are so much more fun when we are children and the holidays are truly wonderful times as we are all together as family and at Christmas we are all so excited to open our presents that Santa had brought us. We delight in a day off from school when we get a snow day and enjoy frolicking in the snow making snow angels and going sleigh riding. It is the magical moments such as these that make our childhood so special and bring a smile to our face when we think back to them.

I believe we are blessed as adults with children because it is our way of experiencing childhood again through the eyes of our children and that is so very special to be able to connect with them and also see what it was like for our parents when we were children. It is such a wonderful gift to have children of your own to take care of and to share your life with. I feel so much more content in life with a child. Our son truly gives our lives so much more meaning and we are so in love with him. Each day with our son is a learning experience and we wish to find activities beyond the classroom that would be suitable for him. It is so enjoyable to see pictures of us when we were babies and young children and the more exciting part is showing our children those pictures and asking them to guess who are in the pictures. Matthew always knows the pictures are of me when I was a baby. He likes to see them and I like to share them with him and show pictures of my parents and sisters also.

This is what makes life so wonderful. The times we share with our kids and the joy in seeing them as kids enjoying life and just being kids. If we could teach Matthew to just enjoy these times and make the most of them then we will have done a very good thing because once our childhood comes to an end it is a very sad day because that means we have to grow up and sometimes it is better just being a kid!

Edward D. Iannielli III

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Autism - My cause to help our son and other autistic children

We all have good intentions and wish to do our best to help out a cause but until you are personally affected by something it is very difficult to support a particular cause. For me I had no idea about the increasing rise in Autism until my son was near three years old and I really didn't know much about it other than a book I read when I was in my early 20s about a woman who was autistic and had a very difficult and painful road in her life but with therapy, the love of her family and her own inner strength and determination did she manage to break through. She chronicled her experiences through her writings which became published and made available to the public in two titled books, Nobody Nowhere which was her first book mainly dealing with her life as an autistic child and her confusion and madness she experienced and feeling very lost while growing into a young woman and Somebody Somewhere, her second book which focused more on how she championed her autism in her life into a positive thing that enabled her to grow and become somebody. I was quite amazed how courageous and how difficult a life she had and encouraged that she found the inner strength to turn her life around and make it and go on to college and help so many others.

For me I have learned through my experiences in raising Matthew that we really don't always know all the right things to do but we have his interests at heart and are trying our best to help him. I have cried many times to myself knowing my son has difficulties and I have always maintained a promise to him that we will always be there for him to support and guide him and get him the help he needs because this is our responsibility as his parents and we wish to see him making continual progress. He will most likely have to adapt and make tough choices but with our love and commitment hopefully he will find an inner peace and strength to help him throughout his life. I know also when he grows and develops friendships this will help him and give him the opportunity to experience more and mature and develop a sense of himself. The more we relate with others the more we learn about ourselves.

I have learned that when we are connected to something through personal experience we can relate it to others and draw strength from it. I have been urged by my wife many times to go to support group meetings with her to work through my personal feelings and struggles dealing with the difficulties our son is faced with and I have had a voice to share our experience in raising an autistic child and I have expressed my feelings and had felt good in sharing how I try to deal with helping our son. I also have benefited from listening to others who have shared their experiences and felt welcome and realized that there are others going through similar experiences.

I am relatively shy but find if I have passion about something I can get up in front of a large assembly and talk from my heart. I lose my shyness because I am looking at the situation from a different perspective. Imagine you are given this tremendous responsibility to help your child find confidence and a sense of themselves so they can achieve success and you know they have limitations and you also know how much you love them and how much you will be committed to helping them. It now becomes a mission for you to help your child and do everything available to help them. You are their support system and you will do whatever it takes. If that means getting up in front of a large crowd of people and talking about your experiences with raising you child who is autistic then you will do it with no fear because when you relate your experiences you learn from it and you also help others. My commitment to my son is for as long as I am alive and I will live to stand by him because I love him and I know Maria does too. We live for him and we will do everything within our power to help him.
I have made it my life's mission to continue writing this blog about my son and Autism because I need to voice my feelings and address my son's needs and by writing I am not only helping myself but I am leaving a diary of my thoughts, ideas, feelings, emotions and love for my wife and our son with the intentions of giving this to him as my gift and expression of love and hope.

I am not a writer by any stretch of the imagination but when I feel inspired and know I am doing something with my firm commitment to him and my strong conviction that this is the right thing to do then it seems as soon as a good idea surfaces related to our experiences with autism and our son then the ideas I have are then more easier to be translated into words and the writings are my expressions of love and devotion to him and my purpose is to write to help him and others who can relate to us.

I am also interested in developing a way to help through establishing a trust for my son and possibly a charitable foundation to help him and other autistic children. This will be my mission in life because it is always a positive and noble thing to reach out to others who are in need and by helping others you are giving back and making the world a better place. Life is about making change, making personal sacrifices and commitments and helping others, especially the ones you love and my son is my mission in life because he is an autistic child and he is special to Maria and I and we love him and fully support and respect him and are his biggest advocates. God Bless you Matthew. We love and cherish you and will always be there for you as you inspire us and teach us what love truly means and we are so very appreciative.


Edward D. Iannielli III

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Matty, Our little boy so special in every way!

If I could tell you how I felt on the days I was away at work and not able to see you because it was another late night or when I am driving in my car and I hear the Harry Chapin song Cat's in the cradle or when I am in the city near a client's office and I walk by the Empire State Building and you are not by my side looking in awe I would tell you that there isn't a day that goes by when I'm not thinking of you and your mom. You are always on my mind and I just think I am the luckiest man in the world to have you both in my life. I am always hoping you are having a great day at school and you are learning and enjoying yourself and talking and letting your classmates get to know you. It seems we all have to experience our individual lives and yet also experience togetherness as a family and eventually friendship, responsibility and so many things that shape our personality and make us who we are.

As my son celebrates another birthday I made sure I left work early enough so we could go out to Friendly's and celebrate his special day and enjoy each others company and have a nice dinner and ice cream. It is nice to spend time together as a family and as Matthew grows he will realize it is equally important spending time with friends as he needs to learn to socialize and find fun things to do with kids his age. After dinner Maria, Matthew and Grandma went home while I stopped to buy Matthew his birthday presents and do a little Christmas shopping. Since Matthew enjoys writing and drawing I bought him some large drawing pads and crayola twistable pencils which will surely provide him hours of fun and I also bought him some nice clothes for the winter.

I still remember when I was a kid and when my parents would take us out to celebrate our birthdays and we would go for pizza and italian ices or go to Mc Donalds. It was fun and we always cherished those days and I can still remember them as if they were yesterday. We don't realize how important it is to savor the moments when we are young and together with our family and enjoying each others company because time just flies by and before you know it we are adults and have lives of our own and we don't have the time we wished we had since we are so wrapped up in our lives with our work and our families like the great Harry Chapin song so eloquently states. It is so important to spend time with our kids and teach them and show them the way like we were shown by our parents. We need to learn how to manage our time more efficiently so we can devote the time just as much to those who are so important to us.

To me the joy of family is the unity we feel even when we are apart during the day and the unconditional love we have for our children. This is so powerful and such a major influence in our lives. For when we have family we have so much to be grateful for as this is what keeps us together and makes us strong and very happy. The happy times I remember as a kid are my inspiration in providing my son with happy times too. Matthew and I enjoy music and since it is Christmastime we are going to see a concert that will give us both joy because we are going to see a concert performed by Transiberian Orchestra and when we went last year we had such a great time. The music was beautiful and full of Christmas cheer. Transiberian Orchestra's music has special meaning to me because that is what I was listening to in my car when I was driving back and forth to the hospital when our son Matthew was born back in 1998 in December.

So I am just so happy to see Matthew growing and becoming a young man. He is a handsome little boy who keeps reminding us that he is no longer a little boy. Now that he has celebrated another birthday he is starting to really mature and we are now starting to realize that he is no longer that little boy. He is absolutely right but we still know that he is our little boy and he is truly special in every way.

Happy Birthday Matthew! Mommy and Daddy love you so very much!

Edward D. Iannielli III

Monday, December 7, 2009

Matty's Birthday

Another measure of a year gone by is the happy occasion of our son's birthday. He will be 11 years old tomorrow, December 8th. I remember this time 11 years ago and I know my wife certainly does as she was in labor the whole night and was in pain but as soon as Matthew was born and placed in her arms it was a very special time for both of us and all the pain subsided in that glorious moment for her when we became a family of three. It was a time of great joy and we were all so delighted and excited. I remember thinking how tiny he was as he weighed 6 lbs 13 oz and was born with a cone head. The nurses put a knit cap on his head after they cleaned him and put him in his bassinet. He looked so cute and it was the most incredible feeling I ever felt and Maria looked warn out from the experience but also was very happy.

It seems the years have flown by as we have gone through the stages of infancy, toddler, young child and now preteen with our son. It seems like only yesterday we were changing diapers and now we are making sure he is up by 6:15 am so he can have breakfast before his school bus arrives to take him to middle school. I am just amazed how fast 11 years have gone by. I remember it vividly when Matthew was born. It was around 5:00 am when he was born and I can picture the room Maria and I were in and all the medical team and the nurse who held our baby for me to see before she rested him in Maria's arms. I just get such a feeling of happiness and joy when I think back to that time.

I don't know if it is Autism related but Matthew insists that his birthday is in March even though we know he was born in December. Even when we buy him presents and birthday cake he insists it is not his birthday and he refuses to open his presents and will not accept his birthday cake. It is quite puzzling to us and we wonder when he will grow out of this as it does get frustrating and a bit upsetting. Initially we went along with him but now we feel it is not proper because he's been denying his true birthday now since he was 5 years old and we just don't get it.

For us as a family we feel it is important to commemorate his birthday and I feel very upset when we can not share his birthday with others. Even at school he does not want a celebration on his real birthday and we find ourselves explaining this to his teacher. It just makes me scratch my head and wonder why. Sometimes I don't understand the mindset of an autistic child and find myself wondering how best to handle this type of situation. I know when I was a kid I always looked forward to celebrating my birthday. Now I want to forget my birthday and keep a low profile on my special day. I do however recognize the day and try to visit my parents at the cemetery on that day because they gave me life and I am very grateful.

We remember when Matthew was a baby and how life was so different as we were focused on him and concerned with his development. We have learned a lot through the years and still are learning and he is very special to us. We feel we are on a roller coaster sometimes with the ups and downs we have experienced and we know the ups are more than the downs but we are trying to minimize the downs and feel we have no control over the situation so we just have to ride it out and hope for the best and always be there to protect him which we have done since day one and will for our lifetime.

I delight in going shopping for birthday presents for Matthew and love to surprise him with things he likes such as puzzles, cars, drawing pads and rolls of paper. It is a joy to see him eagerly open his presents even if he insists that they not be opened until Christmas with the presents he receives from Santa.

So as another year goes by and we get to experience that special day that Maria gave birth to our son we are just so thrilled and overjoyed and reminded of that special day 11 years ago and I am so grateful to be given such a precious gift and am happy for Maria that she is a mother of a very special boy and I am the lucky father. This is what makes life so wonderful.

Happy Birthday Matthew!
Congratulations Maria on giving birth to our special little boy!

Edward D. Iannielli III

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Autism - Youth and innocence

The beauty of childhood are the precious gifts of youth and innocence. We all start out as babies and grow into childhood and hopefully experience all the wonders and joys associated with it if we are so blessed. Childhood is a time of remarkable growth, curiosity and wonder. It is a time when we can dream and be kids and not have the worries if we are privileged and lucky enough for there unfortunately is a lot of suffering in the world with hunger and starvation rampant in many places in the world. Children are the future and their wisdom is always welcome and refreshing. Children say what they feel and are completely honest and make us as parents realize what is most important in life.

When I see my son and I talk with him at this time of the year I realize how precious it is to be a kid as I see my son get all excited in anticipation of the holidays and the Christmas season. We always ask him to write out his list for Santa Claus and to make sure he doesn't ask for too much because Santa has so many kids to get presents for. He is still at the age where he has that magical and wonderful belief that we all remember as young children and it is wonderful to know that, as it makes the holidays so special and when we see our son delight in opening his presents and saying Santa brought him what he wished for it brings a smile not only to his face but to ours as well.

I feel since Matthew is autistic he seems to have a level of sensitivity and innocence that most kids outgrow sooner. Our son is very caring and reaches out and does have empathy for other children which kind of goes against the notion of autism and the ability to relate to others because Matthew is very good at understanding when someone is upset and his initial reaction is to calm them and reassure them that everything will be ok.

I enjoy taking Matthew to the movies and seeing his expressions as he watches the big screen. The last major movie we saw together was Michael Jackson's This is It and we really enjoyed it and Matthew was quite amazed at Michael's dance moves and his personality. He really got to see Michael at his best and after the movie was over we talked about him and Matthew said Michael is and will always be the best musical entertainer he has seen and appreciated seeing his show. We both enjoyed it very much and Matthew was sad knowing that Michael was gone but he felt that Michael left us all such wonderful music and a special gift of his work and his compassion to help others to make the world a better place.

I explained to Matthew that Michael had a childlike innocence too and that was what made him truly special and we all could learn from him in his dedication to his music and his reaching out to others. The innocence of youth is a precious gift and we try to hold on to that innocence for as long as we can because that is what makes us young and free spirited and without prejudices. We are completely accepting and completely honest in our feelings and we have dreams and hopes that stay with us for as long as we hold them close to our heart.

I always tell Matthew to dream and hope for all the things he would like to accomplish and never lose sight of them for that is what keeps us young and allows us to develop into our own and gives us the drive and ambition in our lives.

I appreciate the simple things that make my son happy and I try to participate with him in those activities and show him my approval and enthusiasm. Matthew loves to save pictures from the internet of cars of many types and styles from sporty to fuel efficient to environmentally conscious and it's great to see his interest and desire to learn of the many kinds of cars and to set up a folder where he saves them according to type and year. He derives joy from this and can spend at least an hour doing this. He was upset when he informed me that the VW Beatle, the car he loves is going to be discontinued. I was surprised when he told me this and asked him how he knew and he simply said, "the internet" and I said I should have known. He also loves music and his favorite artist of all time is Elvis Presley and he loves to play music from the internet selecting different artists and different songs and pretends he is a dj and he says the call letters and the name of the artist and song before he plays it. I really get a kick out of this. He also loves doing music blocks and his favorite artist for this obviously is Elvis, "The King" as Matthew says.
I think these activities are great for him but I do wish he had more interaction with kids his own age.

So it is a pleasure to see Matthew growing and enjoying his activities and I enjoy experiencing seeing him during his youth and I cherish his innocence and I always hope that he will hold on to this for as long as possible because it is such a wonderful thing and even though he has autism he has a lot of wonderful qualities that truly make him a special kid and I am so happy he is my son.

Edward D. Iannielli III

Touched by Jake Olson

As I see my son learn to adapt to his situation with Autism and how everyday is a new and challenging experience for him I can't help but notice an inner strength and courage he shows and I am so touched and inspired. My son makes me feel very proud for all he accomplishes and the approach and dedication he shows in his life. When I was trying to understand his situation and feelings he may be experiencing I've tried to draw inspiration from others to try and gain insight in learning about autism or other cases of childhood illness and dealing with the challenges posed. I have been touched by others and have come across a recent story of a young boy by the name of Jake Olson who is 12 years old and has experienced so much in his young life it will make you feel very inspired by his courage and his boyish charm and it will make you feel very sad that he has experienced so much pain and suffering. The one thing I will take out of learning of Jake's story is that he is a kid just like any other kid and though his life is taking such a dramatic turn he still has a love of his college football team, USC and he is a truly amazing fan and truly an amazing kid.

I learned of Jake Olson's story on an AOL headline which peaked my curiosity as it showed a picture of a young boy who looked like any other boy in America but his story is like no other. In the headline it indicates that Jake has one final request and I felt an initial sadness when I saw that and was curious so I decided to click in on the story and when I did I was immediately drawn to his story which also included a video. I decided to view the video and boy was I touched by his story. I had tears rolling down my cheeks as I saw the video and read his story. You see Jake had been born as a twin with a sister who by all means is healthy but poor Jake had a rare form of cancer that was diagnosed at a very young age that affected his eyes and his vision. When Jake was a young toddler he had to have one of his eyes removed due to the cancer and had only sight from his other eye. He had numerous surgeries subsequent to losing his first eye and they were to his parents and sister's delight successful. As his cancer came back he was in need of surgery again and the problem was that this surgery was not successful and their was nothing else the doctors could do to save his remaining eye.

After meeting with the doctors the family realized Jake would require another surgery that would require removal of his remaining eye and Jake said there was one more thing he wanted to experience with his last precious moments of having his eyesight. Jake and his family are very loyal USC college football fans and Jake always enjoyed going to some of their games and cheering them on with his dad. He told his mom that the one last request he would like aside from memorizing his family's faces was to see a USC football game and his mom had reached out to see if this could happen. When USC learned of Jake Olson and his story they were so touched and inspired that they wanted to make Jake's experience one he would never forget so they planned a day especially for him where he would be given the opportunity to meet with all the players and coaching staff during a practice session and get to talk with his favorite player, Kristofer O' Dowd. It was very special for Jake and his family and for the big day of the game. Jake and his family were given the best seats in the stadium to get to see USC football. The players played to win the game for Jake and give him the opportunity to be a part of the team's first huddle of the game where Jake got to give his encouraging words and he really had an emotional effect on all the guys as they played in his honor.

It was such a compelling story as the team rallied around Jake and won the game for him and gave him his request and they had a special request of Jake that he would be around to still cheer his team on with his family. I was very touched by this and felt very proud of Jake, his family and USC football. After Jake's surgery he no longer had sight and had to learn to now adapt to his new situation and was very courageous and had many supporters including the USC football team. They had managed to visit Jake after the surgery and his favorite player was at the hospital with Jake's family and was expressing his and the team's support and were looking forward to his next visit at their practice.

Jake has written a book about his experience before he lost total sight and is planning on writing another book now without vision and it will be in braille also. I have been touched by others in reading their stories but Jake's story really stands out and I admire his courage as well as his family's and the kindness extended by the USC football team. It is such a touching story and I wish Jake all the best in his life and a chance to live out all his dreams. I wish his family the strength and courage to be their for their wonderful son and I have become a big fan of USC football because of their true character and support of their number 1 fan Jake Olson.

I will tell my son of this truly brave kid and I'm sure he will be inspired by his story as I was.
When Matty found out about Jake he felt very sad and he expressed his feelings and wanted to write a letter to him which he will first write as his next blog post and the title will be "A Letter to Jake Olson".

Edward D. Iannielli III
Helped by Matty Iannielli (my son)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Autism - Flashes of Genius

As a child growing up it is very crucial to study and do your homework and always be prepared for tests and to always try your best. When given a paper or book report or reading assignment it is very important to complete it on time and to put forth your best effort. All kids develop at different levels and they all try to live up to their true potential. Knowing how capable you are is something you have to find out for yourself. As a student in school there are many standardized tests we take to measure our level of intelligence and we really have no way of preparing for these examinations. They are meant to determine our level of intelligence and help the school administrators and teachers determine the course of study that is appropriate for their students.

For autistic children it is a bit trickier trying to place them in a suitable classroom setting because for the most part autistic students, primarily asperger's children are highly intelligent but struggle with how they relate to others and how they conduct themselves. It is well established that autistic children who are high functioning should be placed in a challenging class room environment where they won't get bored but usually are not mainstreamed right away because of their social difficulties so there is a fine line teachers, school administrators and parents have to walk when trying to determine what is best for their child. We have experienced this all throughout Matthew's schooling as he was always considered intelligent but had difficulties with relating to others so he was always placed in self contained classroom settings with one on one instruction regularly. He has a difficult time with independence in doing his assignments even though he is very capable of doing the assignment. He has to always be pushed to do his homework and once he gets going with it he has no difficulty and usually breezes through it.

There is definitely a higher incidence of genius among autistic children as they usually have acquired such a capacity for learning and are very focused in what they like. If an autistc child has an interest in mathematics then there is a great possibility that they will excel in the subject and can aspire to be an engineer, math professor, scientist or an actuary. Autistic children can get very absorbed in their studies if they have the interest and desire. If you find something that an autistic child likes such as art, music, science, english or math and give them the opportunity to channel their energies and interest in those subjects they will most certainly excel and showcase their talents. It is a wonderful thing to see an autistic child move beyond their self imposed confinement and grow like a flower if you provide them with the opportunity and allow them to come into their own.

I am amazed how far our son has come in school. He is still in a self contained classroom setting because he still has difficulty relating but is introduced to some mainstreamed classes and he is certainly making progress. He is very bright and has a lot of interest in school and is becoming more independent and responsible with his homework which is great to see. We realize schooling is a process and our son is starting to come into his own and has shown his constant improvement which we are delighted with. We are very supportive of his development and growth and realize that he will have some trying times and periods of adjustment but overall know he will do fine because he has the capability and he realizes the importance of school. He is starting to relate better with his classmates and his teachers only have good things to say about him.

We are very encouraged with Matthew's interest in reading. He enjoys reading stories and even reads books outside of his classroom which is tremendous. He enjoys going on the computer too and the internet and he also likes maintaining a blog that he writes in his own words about his experiences which I think is good for him because it gives him a way of expressing himself and that is so very important for an autistic child to do. I know when I was a student in school I had to study hard and apply myself and I had my mom sitting with me helping me with my assignments like Maria does with Matthew. It is a parent's love that inspires them to have patience with their child and to help them with their schoolwork because parents realize how important it is to learn discipline and focus and to be responsible. If you can teach your child to be responsible with their schoolwork and their homework then you are helping them get off to the right start and teaching them important values that they will know for the rest of their life.

I always remember hearing stories as a kid that Albert Einstein one of the most renowned physicists that we learn about had difficulties with math as a child and was most likely autistic. Albert Einstein was considered one of the most influential scientists of our era having developed the theory of relativity that played such a vital role in science and physics as we know it. He theorized the laws of motion and bodies or objects in relative motion of each other. He was the one who developed the widely used formula that all physicists know and that we all learn in science class. When I see my son get frustrated I always tell him about Albert Einstein and he usually replies that he has learned of Albert Einstein and his theory of relativity. He learned about him at a much earlier age then I did. He says that Albert Einstein is special because he devoted himself to science and taught the world something very important and that he is considered a genius. Upon hearing my son talk of Albert Einstein and speaking so eloquently I realize my son also has flashes of genius and knowing that he is autistic just makes me realize how much heart he has because I know it is not easy for him but he takes it in stride and he has a wonderful disposition and I am so very proud of him.

Edward D. Iannielli III

Count your blessings

I am often reminded when I am feeling a bit sorry for myself how lucky I am. I have a wonderful and supportive wife and a wonderful son who has some struggles but an internal strength that will help him in his life. We all want perfection in our lives but that is far from reality. We also wish to have certainty and the ability to stay healthy so we can take care of our family. I have been helped a lot in my life and have been very fortunate and very appreciative for all the wonderful people who helped and guided me, especially my parents. I realize that we are on our life's path where we have many things we wish to accomplish and many people who will touch us and who we will touch. In life unfortunately we all have to age and go through periods of stress and difficulty and personal sorrow. We all try to live life to the fullest knowing in the back of our mind that one day we will not wake to see all those who are so special to us or we will wake but will lose some of those who are special to us and this sometimes is hard to come to terms with.

I am very concerned for my son and my wife and want Matthew to have a full and happy life with promise of a bright future. I will see that he goes to college and finds a suitable program of study that will benefit him and provide him with opportunity. It seems the world we live in is getting so much more complicated and there is a lot of suffering in our current day. There are so many people facing financial stresses and many who are faced with the prospect of losing there homes because they lost their jobs and have no income coming in. These people are everyday hard working people who used to be considered middle class. They have had everything pulled out from under them and are trying their best to get back up and start again. These people need incredible strength and heart and I just feel so sad how this can happen. It is very scary especially if you have a family with young children It just doesn't seem fair.

We who are doing our best to provide and take care of our families and are working need to be thankful for the opportunity we have and do our best for our employer and our family. I am grateful for the opportunity I have and I am always trying my best and am very respectful and very hopeful. As a father we need to set a good example for our children and be a positive influence in their life and help guide them and be there for them and to help answer their questions and calm their fears and ease their burdens for kids today are faced with so much more so sooner and are dealing with growing up at a much quicker pace.

Raising a special needs child today is a challenge but is a very rewarding experience too because it is so precious to bond with your child and allow them to grow and become their own person and when you see your child making strides and starting to mature and grow and find comfort and happiness in their childhood it makes our lives so much more purposeful and we feel the joy they feel. In raising an autistic child it is quite a learning experience because you need to establish ways of effectively communicating with your child knowing that they have a disconnect and do not always understand or see thing as we do. Therefore it requires real patience, perseverance and a tremendous dedication to your child in providing them ways of learning to express themselves and establish confidence and a bond with us and with teachers and classmates.

I know it takes time to see progress and feel things are coming into place but as I see my son now about to turn 11 years old I just feel so much love for him and want to make everything for him the best I can. I love when I have time to spend with him and I cherish that time always. I enjoy when we have plans to spend the day together and to see a movie or a concert. It is special to bond with your child and I count my blessings each and every day I have with my wife and son and I just have such a sense of joy and feeling of completeness. I am here for a reason and that is to provide for and take care of my family like my dad did in his wonderful life. I learned from the best and I count my blessings for having such wonderful parents, wonderful sisters and my own wonderful family. Life is good when you share it with the ones you love.

Edward D. Iannielli III

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Words of Encouragement

At times in life we all feel a little down and seem to feel sadness and despair and we wonder when we will find happiness and joy. It seems that we all have moods and we have to learn to control our feelings and emotions because life is a long and winding road and we have to learn to adjust to the different conditions. It is not easy and sometimes we try to manage and just find that inner peace we need to go on in our life. We have to be strong and have faith and trust in our self that things will be ok and most of all we need words of encouragement and to know we are supported and cared for. I always knew in life that before we could love someone else we had to love our self first and take comfort in who we are and have an identity that connects us to who we are and help us to fit in and get along with others.

I always wondered so many things about our life and our mission and what it is we are to do with this wonderful gift of life we have been given. I scratch my head on occasion just wondering about destiny and fate and what it is all about with our lives and our relationships. If you think to much about it you will just go in a full circle and never know why. It's all a mystery and no one has the answer.

My son is getting to an age now where he asks me many questions and is very curious and very bright. As he is autistic by a diagnosis from doctors we try to instill in him that it is ok to be autistic or blind or deaf. This just makes us have to work a little harder to do what we wish but there is nothing wrong with that. It just makes us stronger and gives us insight into our life and makes us more special.

It also is quite amazing that we were children at one time and we depended on our parents. One time our parents were children and they depended on their parents. And now that we are parents we now have children depending on us and in time our children will be parents. This is the cycle of life and generations of family. We all are interconnected and rely on each other in some way.

As I see my son growing and becoming his own person it is quite a learning experience because as he grows I feel the time is just flying by and I am trying to adjust and help him as his curiosity and his questions are outpacing my ability to answer them as they are becoming more and more complicated. I am now preparing for the time when he starts to notice the girls but right now he is still at the stage where he thinks "girl kisses are gross" so I still have some time to prepare for that. I also know with my son that it is very important to talk to him and also to listen to him. He feels sadness and has his bad days like we all do and that is the time when I need to give him encouragement and allow him to talk about what is bothering him. I feel it is very important for him to talk it out and express himself because that is one of the things autistic children have trouble with.

By offering my son encouraging words and listening to him I feel he will benefit and realize it is part of life to feel sad and by talking it out with me he will find that he will feel better because it is not good to keep it inside. I know from personal experience and that is why I recognize why it is so important to talk about what's on your mind. I will always give my son the time and offer encouraging words and words of praise.

Edward D. Iannielli III

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Autism - Trying to understand and gain insight

I try to always relate to others and to be a good listener and to be kind and considerate and always understanding. It is essential that we reach out and be supportive so we can help those who need us. My son is very special to me and I know he has some challenges that require an effort in understanding and a considerable amount of patience. In learning and properly dealing with the condition I have done a lot of reading and research in the area. It is very emotional when you are trying to find answers to questions you have concerning your own child and their medical condition.

Autism is something of an enigma because it has become so widespread and no one really knows why. There is a lot of conjecture and theories posed and many in the medical community have differing opinions as to some of the causes or reasons but nothing is definitive. The only thing I know is my son does exhibit signs that would suggest Autism and when you can get past the suddenness of learning about it you have to move forward and learn as much as you can and gain the insight you need so you can be effective in helping your child get the proper medical treatment and the proper schooling they need so they can grow and develop and learn to explore beyond themselves and reach out to others and find friendships which are very important.

As I did my research and reading I started to look at a way to encapsulate my feelings and what I know is important in dealing with Autism. If you spell out the word autism and highlight the letters as capital letters as follows A-U-T-I-S-M you can derive key words which are Accept, Understand, Teach, Initiate, School and Manage. These words are part of the process in healing and moving forward and I will relate their significance here.

The first thing as a parent of an autistic child you need to do before you can help is to come to terms with the diagnosis so you can gain acceptance. Acceptance is very important because when you come to terms with the diagnosis you can move on and do what is necessary to help your child get well. It is not easy but it is necessary and only then can you be effective in helping.

The next key word that I consider is part of the healing process is finding understanding in the situation. When you can understand your child you will gain their trust and you will then learn tolerance and patience which goes a long way in helping your child and getting them on the right track. It all starts with understanding and the sooner you realize this the better off you will be in working with your child to get on track.

Once you learn to accept and gain understanding the next thing you need to do is to properly teach your child how to react and express themselves. Teaching is crucial and a child must be encouraged by his teachers and be given every opportunity they deserve so they can explore and learn and grow beyond their boundaries. To teach a child is the greatest gift we can give and we must take it very seriously especially autistic children.

In teaching an autistic child you must always initiate as they tend to have difficulty in self expression and reaching others. It is imperative that you initiate them in conversation and in getting them involved with others so they can experience life and grow and develop as young people.

We all need proper schooling to be taught and to learn and gain understanding and when we have the right school and the right teachers we then will find happiness and look upon our schooling with pleasure and eagerness. It is school that helps develop our talents and allows us to expand and flourish as individuals.

Another necessary part of the healing process is manage for we must learn to manage our emotions and our feelings and our ideas and goals. We must also learn to manage our attitudes and our opinions and learn to manage our behaviors and learn from our experiences. As students we must also learn to manage our homework and our behavior in the classroom.

As we learn and go through these processes we will be more effective in raising our autistic children and guiding them and teaching them what they need to go forward in their lives. This is our vision for our son.

Edward D. Iannielli III