Monday, August 31, 2009

A little history into the initial discoveries of Autism

I've read a lot of material about autism and the varying degrees of autism and there is certainly a lot of studies and research done today due to the extreme rise and alarming rates. Autism was on the scene and doctors have studied it since the 1940s. The 2 primary doctors that led to the discovery of Autism were from Austria who developed early theories about it.

Dr Leo Kanner was born in 1894 in a small Austrian village and received his medical degree in 1921 after spending time in the Austrian Army during WWI. He was educated at the University of Berlin and emigrated to the United States in 1924 where he began his medical career. He is credited in the academic world as the first child psychiatrist and was the founder of the first academic child psychiaty department established at Johns Hopkins University Hospital and published his first book on the subject, Child Psychiatry in 1935. He wrote his first paper after extensive research on the early evidence of Autism in children in 1943 around the same time a fellow colleague was doing his own research in Austria, Hans Asperger. Dr Leo Kanner led a distinguished medical career and was a pioneer in the early studies of autism and did a lot of work for the field of child psychiatry which has led to a whole field of study which is crucial to continuing studies of autism. He died in 1981.

Hans Asperger was born in 1906 and was educated in Vienna and began his medical career at the University Children's Hospital in Vienna. He also served during wartime during WWII as a medical officer in Croatia. He married in 1935 and had five children. He lost his younger brother in the war. He started his research on Autism in the early 1940s and published a paper of his findings in 1944 on symptoms of autism. He had various positions as lead medical director and was appointed chair of Pediatrics at the University of Vienna which he held for 20 years.

Dr Asperger conducted investigations on hundreds of children and studied their behaviors and their abilities to talk. He narrowed his focus on a smaller population for his study to check for patterns of forming friendships, the ability to conduct conversations, a preoccupation with repetitive interests, lack of empathy and self esteem issues. Based on his testing and research he was convinced these children had autistic symptoms and was convinced they could use these "special talents" into their adulthood and experience success. Dr Asperger championed the cause for these children affected and felt no matter how bad their struggles were to them and their caregivers in their childhood they were able to translate their experiences to great achievements into their adulthood. It was theorized that Dr Hans Asperger could also have been autistic as a child as he exhibited the same patterns he theorized about. Dr Hans Asperger dedicated his life to his studies relating to Autism and was a significant contributor to the field and to understanding children and adults affected by this condition. He also was a pioneer in the study of autism and made so many important contributions that are well recognized today.

Lorna Wing, a British researcher actually popularized the term "Asperger's syndrome" in her writings in the early 1980s and a lot of Dr Asperger's work was tranlated to English and widely adopted in the early 1990s when Asperger's syndrome was recognized as a formal diagnosis throughout the world. This all happened after Dr Hans Asperger died in 1980.

These doctors were so important in the studies of autism and the doctors of today study their findings and use their conclusions in their own research. Since Autism and Asperger's Syndrome is becoming more common today there is a big demand for medical doctors specializing in this field of study because it effects so many children.

It seems we only scratched the surface of autism and a simple phrase that was developed by Dr Leo Kanner based on a paper he wrote states it simply as "Aloness and sameness" which can describe many children affected by it.

As a parent of an autistic child we are always challenging the doctors for answers and trying to determine how we can help our children grow and develop and get thru these symptoms that so effect them in every phase of their life so they can grow and lead happy and productive lives and establish healthy relationships and develop positive self esteem and use their condition to positive use so they can achieve success and happiness.

Edward D. Iannielli III

Family vacations are fun!

I promised my son we would go on a family vacation before he started school and I can't let him down as I always keep my word. My wife was not able to get the weekends off from her job so we are going for 2 days but 2 days is better than no trip at all. We decided on New England because it's a nice trip and Great adventure because Matthew loves the park though he's only been to the one in New Jersey so this is exciting because it requires more driving and this will be his first time in Massachusetts. He always enjoys our family trips and it's a nice break before school starts. We plan on the amusement park one day and the waterpark the next day depending on the weather. I have my Tom Tom so I'm already to go and it will be the longest trip I am making with the new car. I've only had it for 3-4 months and I already have 6,000 miles on the car. I guess I am breaking it in. I understand Nissan's last a while so I'm not worried.

The best part of the trip is the ride and anticipation. We will be driving thru Connecticut to I-95 North and probabaly stop for a few restroom breaks and a bite to eat. It's always fun going on a road trip and Matthew always keeps himself buzy and I bring some of his cds to listen to. Unfortunately I don't have the entertainment center where you can pop in a dvd but I guess we won't be on the road that long. Maria also likes to share the driving if I need a break. My mother-in-law was invited to go with us but she will be babysitting the cutest little filipinas girl and her brother at home so she will have to stay home. She is part of the family and is always invited but this was kind of spur of the moment. I would like to go on a real vacation but will have to save that for another time as we do have to live on a budget and we are not quite ready for the Walt Disney World vacation yet. I have my camera so I plan to take some pictures and will try to relax a little bit. It's nice to get away sometimes as we all need to recharge our batteries and spend quality time with our family. Matthew realizes this is important and he always enjoys these times. We usually like to drive down to Williamsburg, Virginia and Virginia Beach as that is a great family destination and it isn't that far a drive. It is 8 hours and just about long enough for me. When I was younger and single I used to drive down to Florida in 22 hours but with a family I believe we would have to do it in 2 days and I'm not quite ready for a trip like that and if we were going to Disney we would probabaly want to fly.

I am all packed and ready to go and just waiting for our darling son to wake up and for Maria to get him ready and fix him a breakfast before we head out. I also have to run a few errands before we leave. I believe Matthew is now at an age where he will remember these trips which is good as memories of times with family on trips are very important and I believe autistic children have the same emotions and feelings that other children have. We just need to help Matthew in instances where he feels overwhelmed as he can not usually tolerate large crowds and loud noises so we must always be careful when we encounter those types of situations as it is one of the worst places to have a meltdown. It's happened before and I have been discouraged taking him to crowded places but it seems we would always have to go offseason to avoid the crowds and that is not possible as it means we would have to arrange for Matthew to be out of school and we would never do that. So we sometimes just have to bite the bullet and hope that he can tolerate the crowds for the day. We also have to keep a firm grip on him as he loves to run and we need to always keep him in our reach. The sad part of these trips means the summer is coming to an end and before you know it the colder weather is upon us. The month of September now means 3 things to me. The first is Matthew goes back to school, The second is our wedding anniversary and the third is that horrible fateful day of September 11th 2001 which is one of the worst days we have witnessed as a country and a world. As we are going on a family trip I will only think of the positives and having a fun time with my wife and son before he starts his school year again. Our son is now moving on to middle school! Let's enjoy our trip! As I plan to leave I am preparing for my son's obvious question, "Are we there yet?" and my response, "We haven't even started yet, Everyone ready, Let's go! Oh I have to fill up first at the nearest station. Anyone need a drink for the road or a snack" We heard it all before. See you when we get back!

Edward D. Iannielli III

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Preparing Matthew for a new school year 2009-2010

As September approaches we are set for a new school year for our son. Matthew will be starting a new school at Salk Middle school after spending 4 years at his previous school of Summit Lane. It will be a new change for him and we will have to transition him into the new school with lots of assistance. You really don't realize how many people are involved in your child's education until you attend a board meeting and see all the attendees. As Hillary Rodham Clinton has said profoundly in her writings "It takes a Village to raise a child." It is true that there are so many people involved in the educational process of your child. We are eagerly awaiting Matthew's transition and hope that it will be a smooth one as we know he resists change and this will be very new to him.

We are hopeful and we know our son will be fine as we have to believe that and also let him know that he should believe that as well. Matthew is very bright and he is aware and knows that he is starting a new school. He has expressed sadness in that he will miss his classmates but it should be a step up for him and hopefully it will be more challenging to him so he will be more involved and interested. In his former school he felt like he was held back and that would explain his regression and poor behavior. Matthew needs a support system and structure and a one on one aide to help him. He will not have the benefit of being mainstreamed as he still needs individualized attention and I'm in no rush to push him. I want him to gradually be exposed to a larger class setting and personally I feel the more intimate the class size the better it is for him. In time hopefully he will be mainstreamed but for now we want him to feel comfortable.

I know when I attended school I had 50 kids in my class and I was shy but it was a different time and I had to manage. I was also lucky because I had devoted teachers that recognized my weaknesses and they worked together with my mom to help me. This is what we want for Matthew. We want dedicated teachers who will recognize Matthew's strengths and weaknesses and advise us so we can develop a plan to help him and address the weaknesses and reinforce his strengths. We want Matthew to attain his grade level and exceed it if possible. As parents we always want to see our children excel and do their best and we want them to also have an active social life and benefit from full participation. School is a setting where sometimes we have difficult days or anxiety and we want Matthew to feel relaxed and not be burdened with worries or fears. Sometimes I wish I could be there with him in spitit and help guide him through the difficult moments but that is why they have teachers and we have to rely on them and trust them because they play a significant role in our son's education. We are encouraged with the new school Matthew is starting and will maintain regular communication with the staff to make sure Matthew is transitioning well and we will take one day at a time and always talk to our son and make him aware that he should not be afraid to share his feelings as we need him to express how he is doing and how his classroom experiences are. We hope he will have classmates that are on his level and will bring out the best in him. We want Matthew to try to grasp the concept of learning to work independently and also cooperatively and to try to learn to take initiative and not be passive.

We also want Matthew to make progress and to feel confident and develop his self esteem. We don't want to see poor behavior and we don't want to see any suspensions. That was my biggest complaint about Summit Lane was that the principal of the school, Dr. Sally Evans treatment of Matthew knowing he is autistic was incomprehensible and very frustrating as she suspended my son from school and the bus at least a dozen times which to me makes me feel she is inept in her treatment of special needs children and she should be disciplined for her poor treatment of a special needs child who needs to have his self esteem built up rather than torn apart. I am very optimistic for Matthew now that he is no longer in her school. She was not understanding and she exhibited a mean disposition.

Maria and I welcome the new school year and we anticipate positive growth and development from our son and I will chronicle his experiences on the blog and allow him to write as well so you can get to know Matthew as he is very special and you all will grow to enjoy getting to know him. He loves to write as much as I do and probabaly more so as writing for me is relatively new. I was never much for writing in the past but as I said before I am writing for my son because he means the world to me!

Good Luck Matthew in the new school year! We are behind you and will support you every step of the way! Just remember to have patience and as my dad would always say to me Be Cool, Calm and Collected and always bloom where you are planted. This was always sound advice from my dad.

Love You always!

Edward D. Iannielli III
Maria Jesusa Gonzales Iannielli

Drawing upon my experiences so I can help my son.

I try to think back to my early days as a young kid and my memories are tested and I can sometimes remember a little bit and the earliest memories I have is of a 5 year old boy feeling sometimes alone but loved and treated well as I had wonderful parents and at that time 1 younger sister, Kathy; as my baby sister, Joan was not yet born. I enjoyed watching baseball with my mom as I enjoyed viewing the games and hearing the broadcasts on the tv. I also enjoyed playing with my etch a sketch and lite brite games. I was also fond of the color by number sets that my dad would help me with as my dad was quite an artist. I loved riding my bicycle and buying packs of baseball cards. I enjoyed when mom would sing songs to me and I enjoyed watching the vatrolla spin as we listened to fun music of the 60s. I really enjoyed listening to music. I was quite a natural at baseball also and played shortstop and occasionally second base.

The one thing that sticks out however which really affected me all throughout my life was my feelings of insecurity and inability to overcome my shyness as a child. I tended to withdraw quite a bit and as I think about it I exhibited similar characteristics to children on the autistic spectrum. I felt safer when I avoided others and withdrew a lot into my own world. I was never diagnosed as autistic so I can not make that conclusion but I do see the many similarities with autism and shyness. I don't really know why I suffered so much from it but as I matured and started to feel more comforatable I somehow found a way to manage with my shyness and I am encouraged for my son to be able to do the same when he grows making the transition from childhood to early adulthood.

I had terrible feelings of guilt when I found out my dad committed suicide and this was very traumatic to me and I found myself retreating back to those ways I did as a child and feeling as insecure and shy as I did back when I was a kid. My dad was a strong man who worked very hard in his life and I feel very sad that his life came to such a tragic, violent and sad end. I have felt an incredible pain and sadness about his suicide. I also felt a terrible guilt that I could never really overcome my shyness and insecurities. I always knew I was kind, caring, compassionate and sensitive in my approach to life. My parents provided me with all the love and support I could ever ask for and they were always there for my sisters and I and I feel very blessed for that as I was very fortunate. I only share the pain of being shy here so I can liberate myself from this self imposed isolation I created for myself and remove the burden that weighs on my mind so I can truly heal and reach out to others who live in isolation as I feel we are all human and have frailties and hopefully by my reaching out I can help someone who is going through the same pain and isolation I have.

I am a very introverted person who has a drive to do my best and I feel we are all here to do our best and make the world a little better place with how we touch one another. Life is only temporary and it seems like a big mystery and we are all doing our own things in hope that we accomplish what we had hoped and shared our lives with the special people we care for in hopes of being blessed with the joy of sharing new life and if we are blessed to live long enough and experience all we had hoped then we can appreciate all the memories and special moments of our life before we go to our next journey.

I've done some research to see if there is a link between autism and shyness and I have found some major similarities between the two. With shyness it is a condition that causes withdrawal and isolation that becomes an integral part of your life. As a result of our shyness withdrawing provides a safe haven as it is something that is familiar and allows us to not feel overwhelmed. There is no cure for shyness and you can go for all the psychotherapy and prescribed medication to no avail. Shyness is something that we live with for the rest of our life and we hope to accomodate and adapt so we can function and make a life for ourself.

So I can relate my experiences of being shy and know that it is somewhat common and probabaly one of the most crippling of emotional conditions so that is why most who are affected by it live with humility and never really talk or open up. I certainly don't want to elaborate about what it is like to be painfully shy but I wish to understand the connection between my mind's hardwiring and my son's mind's hardwiring.

My son who is autistic also has issues that he deals with on a daily basis and we are always trying our best to help him and to encourage him. Matthew has difficulty with change and seeks a similar and familiar routine every day. If any one thing is changed he will have a very difficult time and will experience a complete meltdown which can really test your patience and make the day start off on the wrong note. We try to make sure we have a list that Matty follows in the morning that he can feel comfortable with and follow with ease. Once we go through everything on the list and he finishes his breakfast and takes his medicine we make sure he gets on the bus and gets a good start to his day. When he is in school we are always concerned that he will cope well and manage to follow the rules and listen intently in the class and have a good relationship with his teacher and his classmates.

After Matthew completes his school day Maria makes sure he spends the appropriate time to complete his homework assignment and she reads through the teacher's comments to make sure Matthew managed well in the day. If there were reported incidents of trouble or inappropriate behavior we then make sure we discuss it with him and make him understand that he must follow the teacher's instruction and make sure he does not repeat the inappropriate behavior or he will be punished and have his priviledges taken away.

After Matthew completes his assignment and if he had a good day in the classroom and was cooperative with doing his assignment then he is rewarded by being given the opportunity of doing what he likes. If it is nice weather and the sun is still out then Maria will take Matthew for a bike ride in the neighborhood or they will go to Eisenhower Park to ride for a while. Matthew loves to ride his bike and it is a great form of exercise for him. When Maria and Matthew return then they sit down to dinner. If I am home from work then we all sit to dinner as a family. If I am working late then Maria will make me a hot plate. The main thing is that Matthew eats a nourishing meal. Matthew does test Maria's patience though with his fussy eating habits because he tends to eat more frozen foods or fast foods then home cooked meals. This is something we are trying to work on as we are having a hard time getting him to eat well balanced meals and we feel we need to seek the aid of a child nutritionist who can guide us and not just give general advice because we've been there and it has not helped.

Once Matthew has finished his dinner he then has some fruit and then is granted computer or tv time. He tends to like going on the computer and he does pretty much the same routine of creating lists and favoriting road signs or cartoon clips. He loves to use word to create his lists and excel to create spreadsheets of his calculations. He also likes to play Rhapsody and create music lists. Another activity he enjoys is putting his lego blocks together and create towers like he used to do with Pop but he senses the loss and really has not done it in a while as it makes him feel sad that Pop is not here to help him. He also likes to work on his puzzle. He keeps himself busy and tends to follow this same regimen day in and day out as this is familiar to him and within his comfort zone.

We then make sure Matthew gets to bed at a reasonable hour so he can wake up early to start the school day. Matthew does have a difficult time in getting ready to sleep as it is quite a struggle to get him to sleep by 9:00 pm which is the desired time as we wish for him to get a good 8-10 hours of restful sleep. He will usually not get to sleep until about 10:30 which is quite late so we have to change our clocks to trick him and make sure the tv is off. This has only worked once or twice as he is too smart for that trick.

I certainly can see Matthew making progress but he is isolated as I was because he is usually by himself and we want him to have friends and get involved in group activities. That is why we are happy he attends day camp because at least there he does get social integration which is so very important. I want Matthew to have more experiences with other kids and hopefully as he matures he will desire to participate more in outside activities but I have my concerns and worries as naturally a dad would for his son. I am a proud father and my wife and I want the best for our son and we want him to be happy and have social connections as that is very important in his development. I wonder if I got him a dog as a companion if that would help him. I certainly wish we could have another child but the age gap is getting wider and my wife and I are not kids anymore.

All I know is our son is a wonderful child and he has his struggles and moments where our patience are tested but we love our son and wish for him to have many wonderful experiences and joys and hopefully meets many friends in his life and enjoys much success. We are preparing him for a new school year and a new school and a new teacher so we have our work cut out for us. I have a couple of vacation days left so we will treat him to a nice couple of days at an amusement park and waterpark and I will certainly make sure we keep him in close range and have a fun time.

Matthew is living his life and he is the center of our lives and we are aware of his situation and we are working with trained professionals to help us so we can help him grow and have wonderful opportunities that he so much deserves.

Edward D. Iannielli III

Life's unexpected moments.

It seems like the summer season only just started as I had such plans and wishes to accomplish this season but there was an unexpected tragedy in our family that just made all those plans and wishes seem so insignificant. It seems that emergency plans had come about also to put the anticipated plans on hold. I was hoping to do aluminum siding and have a shed built but those plans fell through. I also had hoped to see my dad more this summer and involve him in family outings but that was not to be as we lost him and things were forever changed. I still felt we had to resume with some of our summer plans to try to have some normalcy. Most importantly I knew we had to keep Matthew busy and send him to Camp Kehilla as he loves going there and he has full days and is kept very busy and he enjoys it.

When I lost my dad I was devastated and I wanted to keep a part of him with me so I was fortunate to have the Subaru he had given to me as a gift 3 years earlier and it was running well but I started having to put money into the car as I had to replace the engine and have a rebuilt transmission. I figured I put all that money into the car and it was running well so I wanted to keep it as it was a memory of my dad. I did not realize my wife's car, a Saturn which was 7 years old was going to die on her so we had to make a choice. I wanted to keep my dad's car for the sentimental value and I decided we would buy her a new car. We had to finance it and wanted to find an affordable car that was safe and reliable since I was the one responsible for making the payments.

We checked out the cars at the Toyota dealership and looked at the Corolla and the Camry but they were a bit out of our price range so we happened upon the Scion section where we fell in love with a bright red Scion XD and I immediately told Maria that this would be perfect for her. It is such a cute car and I just fell in love with the color. She also liked it but was willing to take my Subaru and I take the Scion. I told her I wanted my dad's car for the sentimental value and she have the Scion. It was my gift to her and it was right around Mother's day so it was perfect timing and I joked with her and said "Well I guess you're not getting flowers this year!" We wound up buying the car that very day and she was excited and I was happy for her. So all was well as she had a brand new car and I was driving my dad's Subaru.

I sometimes think things happen for a reason and I am not sure why but it just seems that way to me. A few weeks later my boss, Russel dropped me off at the office after a long day's work and I started up my car and put the Met game on as I started my drive home and for some reason I actually convinced myself to take a different ride home then the one I was used to going. Why, I'm not sure but this night I decided to. As I exited the Seaford Oyster Bay and entered Hempstead Turnpike west I was coming upon a traffic light that was green about 3 minutes from my house so I continued driving and suddenly the car in front of me must have been cutoff because he stopped abruptly and I reacted quick enough to stop in time and felt sudden relief until I heard this loud crash in the back and all of a sudden I had no control of my car as I felt it moving straight into the SUV in front of me and there was nothing I could do. I was fortunate I had my seatbelt on because my whole body jerked forward and everything loose in my car went flying into the windshield. I was in shock as I did not expect this and I was sandwiched from the front and the back and a bit dazed. I did not feel pain but I was momentarily confused but was feeling ok. I felt bad about the car as it was totaled from the back and the front and I felt lucky I was not hurt nor were the other drivers or passengers. The car behind me was totaled in the front and the SUV in front of me had minor damage. My car however was a total wreck. I was lucky I was able to walk away from it. I felt that my dad was there to protect me and this was his way of telling me to move on.

After I composed myself I called 911 to report the accident and we all waited for the police to arrive to fill out the police report. I called my wife and sister to tell them I was in a car accident and was ok but the car was totaled. I felt really awful about it but I believe it was God's will and my dad acting in a way to keep me protected and telling me to move on and seek a new car. I truly believe this. I always wish I had my dad around still but he protected us like he always had and we each inherited a 1/3 of his life insurance so I had a good amount of money in the bank. My car was impounded and I called my insurance company to report the accident. They arranged to send a claims adjustor out to see the extent of the damage. Within a week I got a call that they totaled out the car and were issuing me a check for 6k. I was quite happy and once again knew that was my dad helping me again. I had enough money to buy a car in cash and I decided on the Nissan Sentra and feel that dad would like my choice. So now Maria and I now had brand new cars and I owed it to my dad.

I know a car is a material thing and a necessity which is what I felt about my new Nissan which is a beautiful car. The Subaru however became sentimental to me but I realized you can't keep memories from material things either. It's the memories we hold on to that makes us reconnect to our loved ones we lost and we all know that when we die we don't bring anything with us other than the clothes we are dressed in. I learned an important lesson and I will cherish all my happy memories of dad and thank him for keeping me safe that night I decided to drive home a different way. Life is funny that way. I did manage to keep my dad's religious medalion that he kept in the Subaru and I keep that in my Nissan. I know my dad is my copilot and is watching over me and my family and I feel protected.

It's all about helping Matty!

I consider myself a very sentimental guy with a soft interior and a tough exterior and have been in touch with my feminine side on occasion dealing with all the recent events in my life and my son's ongoing problems with autism and behavior problems. It's enough to make me cry and wonder why we have so much to deal with. If I did not get in touch with my feminine side I might react violently and put a hole in the wall with the frustration and anger I feel sometimes so I must control how I feel and temper my emotions.

It is a balancing act and one I deal with every day. I have been to a doctor for treatment of my depression and I have to make sure I am ok so I can help my son. I am sometimes unsure how to deal with situations I have no control over. I feel totally helpless in my dad's unfortunate choice to take his life and if I knew he was at that breaking point I'm not sure I could have made the difference anyway. This is something I will wonder about for the rest of my life and feel haunted by it. My dad never intended this but it is human emotion and I feel guilty that I wasn't there to help him in his time of need. He was always there for me and my family. I also feel helpless with regard to my son's situation. I am always worried that he could have a seizure and I'm not there to protect him. He also is prone to having meltdowns and I am concerned that either I'm not there to help him through it or I am there and I can't help him through it and I lose it and get frustrated and use force rather than gentle understanding. This is why when you raise an autistic child you need to balance both your masculine and feminine sides so your reaction is proper to the situation.

I am no expert at this but I have learned thru the years that it is ok to express your feminine side from time to time because it helps in being more understanding and sympathetic to your child and reaching out to help and not being ashamed to ask for help. To me it seems women know more about dealing with their emotion and they are not threatened by asking for help when it is necessary where as men sometimes seem to proud to ask for help. I have learned that it is most important to ask for support and help as I now take more cues from my wife in this regard. She has taught me a lot and made me a better person for it.

My son is my priority #1 and I have to be there for him and be both strong and sensitive for him as he exhibits sensitivity and easily gets upset and has tantrums. It is very hard to calm a child going through a tantrum and it requires a lot of patience, understanding and sensitivity. I am learning all the time and I listen to women at our support group meetings to gain insight into how they deal with such tantrums with their children.

Sometimes I am overwhelmed and cry as I feel things are out of control and I like things to be in order and perfect but there is no such thing as perfection when you come from a dysfunctional background. Our upbringing was fine and we were loved and taken care of and nurtured and provided all the comforts but our family had its struggles with mental illness and depression and isolation. We all deal with our feelings in our own ways and try our best to deal with the pain we feel. In my son's case I get frustrated because I want him to grow and have a life full of joy, happiness and promise for a bright future but I see how he struggles and how isolated he is similar to my isolation but for much different reasons. I want my son to have many friends and to be happy and to enjoy success. I want to be there for him and help him but realistically I can not always be there for him. I will always encourage him and provide him support like my wife does as she has a more sensitive and compassionate relationship with him and I am learning also by addressing the feminine side more so because I don't enjoy when my son says he hates me because I lose it and flip out. I need to be more understanding and compassionate.

I even have to control when I get so upset I want to say a bad word. This really gets my son so upset and he tells me he hates me and doesn't want me around so I have learned I can not say bad words which sometimes are involuntary but this is the whole theory of getting in touch with your feminine side. I don't want to offend my son so I'd much rather be in touch with my feminine side and have him much happier with me than a madman shouting bad words and making the situation worse. I have learned a lot with raising an autistic child and I am still learning everyday.

My wife and son are my life and I need to be there for them and whatever it takes to help my son I will do it. I have learned that taking the calm and sensitive approach is the way to go with autistic children and it is better for me because it keeps my bloodpressure lower and adds more years to my life. Women always seem to have the answers and that is why they are the ones to give birth because they are both very sensitive and very strong at the same time and they can tolerate a lot of pain. I have learned a lot from women and am glad to admit it. I love my wife and son very much and feel it is ok to be in touch with your feminine side especially if it will keep your children safe and protected and help them with their self esteem.

Edward D. Iannielli III

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Spending time with Matty

Given the demands of a busy work schedule and the pressures of work I generally only have the weekends to spend with my son and I try to plan a day where we can have an active and fun day and spend quality time together because we never get back that precious time. I am always haunted by the Harry Chapin song Cats in the Cradle which is very poignant and sad. I do wish Matthew would have planned activities with kids his age on the weekends also and we have tried to provide him with such opportunities but he either fights going or just complains of boredom and he has no desire to participate in any type of sports programs. Therefore we have to arrange for activities for him and I try to give him flexibility but I still feel it will be necessary to eventually get him involved in organized activities. The main problem with organized activities is that they do come with a heavy price tag and the camp program we send him to in the summertime is very beneficial for him but we have to save for that and it leaves us little money for anything else.

Our school district has not been all that helpful in providing activities for our son for the summertime and Matthew really does enjoy his camp program. After school activities are also difficult because at Summit Lane they were not equipped to accomodate him due to his special needs. When I complete my errands on the weekend I usually take Matthew out for a ride and we go out to lunch and take a walk at the park. On a nice summer day we will spend a couple of hours at the pool and then go see a movie.

One of Matthew's favorite foods is pizza so sometimes we'll take a ride out to Mama's Pizza in Oakdale where he likes to go as he really enjoys the ride and the pizza. Since we have driven such a distance we usually ride to Robert Moses Beach and walk along the shore and if we're there early enough we go swimming if we planned bringing our bathing suits and towels.

Matthew also likes to ride his bicycle at the park and he can spend a full hour before getting tired. He has a lot of energy and he feels good after a long bike ride. Usually he gets all excited when he sees the ice cream man and always asks me to get him his favorite ice cream snack. I remember as a kid growing up in Brooklyn, NY when the good humor ice cream man, Uncle Lee would stop by and how excited we were to get our favorite ice cream bar. It seems like only yesterday.

I also try to have Matthew invite his cousin Kathryn to join us for the day as they get along very well together and she is like a big sister to him. There will come a time when she will be into her own things but for now she does enjoy spending the day with us and she is a very sweet young lady and they enjoy each others company. We recently went to a concert at Jones Beach where we saw some really cool bands. The main attraction was Blink 182 and the other bands performing were Fallout boy, Panic at the Disco and Chester French. It was a fun night out and we all enjoyed it. Since my wife was working and I had an extra ticket I invited my coworker and friend, Lisa Gode and I introduced her to my son and niece and she had a good time as she is a big Blink 182 fan.

Sometimes we do repetitive things on the weekends but I feel it is important that we spend time together and I allow him to have a day out and try to involve him in things he likes. I still have to work on getting him more involved in group activities so he can make friends and grow and have positive experiences as that was what my childhood was like. I was involved in sports and made friends and this is my hope for my son.
Edward D. Iannielli III
(with help from Matty Iannielli)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Matthew meets a special friend, Gina Marie Incandela

I had just started registering on Myspace and was pretty new to the process of making friends and I provided a brief background of myself and my family and my main focus in my description was raising an autistic son and how devoted I am to being there for him and helping him and being his biggest supporter. So I dedicated any social networking pages I registered on to my son and autism so I could hopefully make some contacts. I also registered on Facebook with the same intentions.

My very first friend on Myspace besides the creator of the site was a cute little girl named Gina Marie Incandela and I was quite surprised and very impressed that she reached out to me as a friend. I was so delighted and I began writing her on her page and leaving her messages telling her how we think she is such an inspiration to all autistic children and that she is such an amazing musical talent. Well she was so kind to write back and introduce herself and shared some of her music captured on Youtube video. She wrote a nice letter to Matthew and said she was so happy to become friends and would share her music with him. We were delighted and I showed Matthew and he was very happy. Since we became friends with Gina we always search her videos on Youtube and enjoy watching her sing the National Anthem at sporting events. She is so poised and such a young lady when she performs and she looks so cute in her pretty dresses. She is a joy to watch and we feel priviledged that she has reached out to us because of our son who is autistic. Gina and her mom are so kind and they have been wonderful in sharing a part of her with us.

The amazing thing about Gina is that she was diagnosed with Asperger's, a form of Autism that Matthew is diagnosed with also and she did not speak any words until she was 3 years old which is similar to Matthew. Gina has developed into a major music star on stage and can be seen singing the National Anthem at baseball games, basketball games, hockey games and other sporting events. She also has an album out and she sings Christmas songs. One of her most popular songs is Dare to Dream and it is very inspiring. Gina is a natural on stage and she sings with such heart and emotion that she brings tears to your eyes. She is truly engaging with the audience and is such a cute little girl with the voice of an angel.

We have maintained our friendship with Gina and also became friends with her on facebook as she put a request out to me again which really made my day and I gladly accepted her friendship request. We just love her so much and we show Matthew her videos of her singing and he is so amazed how wonderful she sings and how brave she is to sing in front of such big crowds and that she sings so beautifully and is autistic is truly inspiring.

Matthew feels honored to have Gina as a friend and I encourage him to write her for advice and as a friend. Matthew is a bit shy but he loves to post comments on her videos telling her how wonderful she sings. It would be nice to attend a sporting event to see her perform live. It would make Matty's day if we were also lucky enough to get her autograph on her new album. We just think she is incredibly gifted and delighted that she reached out to our son. She is truly special and we just love her so much as she is doing such a wonderful thing to inspire autistic children.

God Bless you Gina Marie Incandela and thank you for being Matthew's friend!

Edward D. Iannielli III

Matty goes to a special camp in the summer.

After the school year Matty looks forward to the summer time because he has the opportunity to go to a special camp designed for autistic and special needs children. The name of his camp is called Camp Kehilla and it is affiliated with the Sid Jacobson JCC. Matthew has a full day at camp and he goes 5 days a week for about 6 weeks. It is the best 6 weeks of the summer for him. He participates in all kinds of activities and he makes some really good friends. On the nice sunny days he goes swimming in the pool for about 30-45 minutes under the supervision of lifeguards and he has a swimming instructor. After swimming Matty has ice cream or ice pop snacks and stays under some trees for shade with the kids in his group and the counselor. In addition he has arts and crafts activities where he draws on construction paper or he makes projects such as necklaces or paper airplanes and japanese origami.

On rainy days some trips are canceled and we have to stay in the shelter. Sometimes we go to music class or drama. We still have fun even though it's raining. The only time I got upset when it rained was when our Splish Splash field trip was canceled. We had it rescheduled because of the bad weather and on the rescheduled day it rained again so we couldn't go and we went to Atlantis. It was fun because I got to see all the fish and sharks which looked scary to me. They weren't like Bruce the shark from Nemo but I called him Bruce anyway.

Matty's camp day starts when the bus comes to pick him up and his bus ride is almost an hour long because they have to pick up a lot of children along the way and because it is a long ride. When he arrives at camp he says hello to the children waiting for the bus that takes them up the hill. Once they get there they line up and that's when they go to the playground with their counselors. At the playground they play on the slide and talk to the boys and girls.

On special days after the playground they line up for the bus before going on a field trip. When they get on the bus they are happy and looking forward to the day's field trip. We went to Adventureland 2 times and we went on some fun rides. We went on the train, the swings that go high, the ferris wheel, and the ladybug roller coaster. We ate lunch in the cafe before we went on the rides. We were there for about 2 hours. After Adventureland we went back to camp and went down to the swimming pool to cool off.

I also went to Citi Field in Queens to see the Mets play and we were there for about 3 hours or more. I sat with a counselor and the Mets won. It was a beautiful stadium and we had a very nice day. After the game we went to the JCC where mom came to pick me up and asked how my day was. I told her it was fun.

We also went bowling and had a good time even though I didn't get a strike. I still enjoyed it because I was with other boys and girls and my counselor was very good to us. We had our pictures taken at camp on Picture Day and I made sure I smiled for the camera.

On one day my mom, grandma and my friend Daniella visited me at camp. I ate some of my lunch and I gave the rest to grandma. It was nice to see them and they got to see what I do at camp.

At camp we have long days and I feel tired when I get home but I am very happy because I had so much fun and I got to play with the other kids. I learned how to golf at camp and we went golfing on the campgrounds small golf course. I'm still learning how to swing the club but I liked the game. I went on a field trip to a miniature golf course and it was fun. I went to all 18 holes.

I also went on a field trip to the Westbury Theatre and I got to see Snow White as a play. I really enjoyed seeing the play and thought the actors did a great job. We all clapped when they bowed down to us.

I really enjoy my camp because we do a lot of things in the summer time and I get a chance to make new friends and see old friends from previous years and I learn a lot from my counselors who do a great job and are very nice to us. I also like the swimming because I like to cool off and splash in the water. The saddest part of camp is the last day when I have to say goodbye to all my friends and counselors and they always give me a hug and say we'll see you next year. Sometimes I cry because I didn't want camp to end so soon. It breaks my heart to say goodbye to all of my friends, counselors, unit head, bus driver and bus counselor. As a special thank you mom and dad acknowledged all the counselors and bus driver's hard work with a little gift to thank them for making Matty's summer so special. The End.

Matty Iannielli
With help from Dad

Matty remembers pop in his own words.

I remember my grandfather who I loved to call pop. When pop would come and visit me I would run to the door and say "Hello, I'm glad you came". I would show him my Lego City and my Domino Chain. Sometimes I would have my cars lined up like a parking lot in the living room and mom would always say "Matthew please put your cars away now." Pop would then say "I'll help him put them away". Pop would then help me build my lego towers so they looked like the buildings he used to work on.

I remember when pop would tell me all the buildings he worked on. He worked on the WTC in the early 1970's and he also worked on the Verrazano Bridge in the early 1960's when my dad was a baby. I always enjoyed when Pop would drive us into New Jersey and we would cross over the bridge. I was amazed that he worked so high up and was not even afraid. I used to see all the pictures Pop showed me of him working on the bridge and other construction sites. I always enjoyed sitting down with him and looking at the pictures. He looked so young in those pictures and my dad was held by his mom wearing his diapers still. I thought that the pictures of dad's mom were beautiful. It's nice seeing pictures of my dad when he was a little boy.

After we were done with our buildings Pop helped me move them to a safer place and he would help me put my cars away like my mom said to.

Pop would always sit next to me on the couch and we would watch SpongeBob SquarePants and I think after a while Pop would get a little crazy hearing that song all the time. Then I would let him turn the channel. I would watch The Animal Planet Channel which we both liked to watch.

It was getting time when I had to go to bed and pop would have to leave so we would say goodbye and tell him "Thank you for making my day" and give him a hug. This is what I remember about my pop and I will never forget that.

I miss him and I always remember him through all the pictures we used to look at together and I tell my dad that pop is still here with us and he is happy. The End.

Matty Iannielli
With help from dad.

Explaining to Matthew about Pop

It is never easy explaining certain things in life that we encounter. For us we wish things could always be the same as when we were little kids but that is not reality. What is harder is explaining these things to our children. My son has so many memories of Pop. Matty would always enjoy seeing Pop when he would stop by and spend time with him and take him for rides in his car. Pop was not only his grandfather but he was a special friend who would talk and listen to him. Pop took great joy in seeing him smile and playing games with him like cracking the egg on Matty's head with his hands and making up words like eleventeen or twelveteen. He was like a big kid and he made Matty laugh. Pop would also make up jokes for Matty which would also make him laugh.

Matty would always treasure the times he got to spend with Pop and was sad when he would have to leave and he would give him a big hug and say goodbye or see you soon again.

During the holidays and birthdays Pop would always give Matty a special gift and money for his college fund. He would always say to listen to your mom and dad and be a good boy. Pop would always ask how was your day at school and if Matty did well he would get a 10 dollar bill for his bank.

The things we remember about Pop is that we would sometimes go to his apartment to visit him and Matty loved to visit Pop and play for a little while at his apartment and enjoy seeing me talk with my dad. We did not want Pop to feel all alone and felt good to spend time with him. We always enjoyed seeing his pictures on the wall and all his models. He was very talented and taught Matty about drawing and patience. He would sometimes take us to Dunkin' Donuts to get some donuts or bagels and hot chocolate. Those were fun times.

I wish I could see Pop now so I could tell him how much I love him and miss him but at least I can see him at the cemetery to say hello and talk to him. When I first told Matthew about what happened to Pop he did not understand and believed that he was still ok and was on a vacation and he would be back soon. It took time but as the days and months passed Matty realized that Pop is in a special place in heaven with his wife. He prays for them both when we visit at the cemetery. He would also talk to Pop and my mother and say he loves them very much and asks how they are doing and they answer to him but really it's him answering to himself.

I feel sad having to explain such a sad thing like this but as kids grow they must be respected and treated like anyone else and sometimes we have to share the truth no matter how painful it might be. Matthew understands and we let him express how he feels through his writing and his drawings. He always draws pictures of him and Pop when they would be together playing games.

When we go to the cemetery we usually put out flowers and leave a stone on the grave stone. We also go to visit cousin Timmy who died at birth and is burried in the babies section. It is so very sad to see all the little baby head stones and reading their inscriptions. All I can think about are the poor parents who had to bury their little babies and it breaks my heart. As we walk through that section and see the angel looking over their graves and see all the little toys left there it makes me think how lucky I am to have my son. Matty holds my hand and asks me why did these little ones have to die and I get all choked up and say God called for them because they are special. It makes Matty want to cry when he sees all those baby gravestones. For Matty it is important to leave cousin Timmy one of his toy cars so he knows we came to visit. He sometimes calls cousin Timmy Little Tiny Tim.

As we prepare to leave I notice a grave stone for a little baby girl that reads as follows "To our precious little angel we touched you for a moment yet you touched us forever" and I just started to cry and held my son and walked back to our car. It was a very sad and emotional moment and I could not fully grasp such tragedy when it comes to little babies.

We all know that we are here for a shortwhile and we must look upon each day as a special gift and are so grateful to be surrounded by family and loved ones. As death is part of life we must fully accept it and learn to move on in respect of our dearly departed.

Edward D. Iannielli III
Helped by Matthew Iannielli

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Matthew's desire to write for self expression and enjoyment and our reaching out to help him with his difficulties.

On occasion I will provide my son the opportunity to contribute to my blog so I encourage him to write and help him express himself. I feel it is very important and I am making a connection with him. I have come to realize that Matthew enjoys writing in a journal and this is how he expresses himself. He has a much easier time expressing himself by writing his thoughts out and he does write very well as you can see by his recent contribution about his experience with his bloody nose at the mall. This was written by him and I just helped him with some spelling. He also has a good memory as that incident happened over 5 years ago.

I remember it like it was yesterday though it happened in 2004 and it was a very frightening experience as Matthew had been running around the mall a great deal like he usually does. We tried to get him to slow down and relax and by the time we managed to get to the food court he was in trouble. His nose was completely covered in blood and we grabbed as many tissues from the counter as we could and he managed to go through all of them. He was wearing a white t-shirt that was completely soaked in blood and my wife and mother-in-law could not control the bleeding. My wife started to scream "Please Help Us!" as my mother-in-law was praying and trying her best to stop the bleeding. There was a good samaritan right there who came over to us and asked if we had called 911 and we said no so she proceeded to make the call for us and arranged for an ambulance. She stayed by our side until the paramedics came. She was very special and we thanked her and then the paramedics tried to control his bleeding and put him carefully on the stretcher making sure the blood flow would not leak back and they then transported him and my wife to Brunswick Hospital and I followed behind. The nurses in emergency immediately changed his shirt and washed him down and corterized his nose to stop the bleeding and calm him and my wife down. It was quite a scary experience but once the bleeding stopped and he was calm we felt much better. After the doctor observed him and we signed all the paperwork he was free to go and the nurses said how brave Matthew was and gave him a lollipop for being so good. We thanked them and we went on our way feeling much better now. We asked if there were any special precautions we needed to take and the nurses said to just have Matthew be careful not to touch or scratch his nose and not to jump or run around as that could cause further bleeding.

We spoke to him about running around too much and what can happen and we told him to walk and not get all excited so this can be prevented in the future. He said he understood and agreed that he would be more careful.

My son has difficulty in establishing friendships and acting appropriately in social situations and has had difficulty in the classroom and has suffered by it as he was forced to miss school thru suspension. I have grown frustrated with some of the school officials who seem to have no patience and have no clue in providing proper care for autistic children. As a taxpayer I feel it is Matthew's entitlement to get an appropriate education and to have staff adequately trained to assist children with such difficulties.

Autistic children usually have difficulties in expressing themselves and acting appropriately and participating in activities that require structure. Matthew has a difficult time following direction and needs a lot of reinforcement. He struggles with change and is very highly active so sometimes getting him to sit can be a challenge. He is under a doctor's care and administered medication to help him with his seizures, his ADHD and his inappropriate behavior. It wears on us but as parents we wish to help Matthew and we rely on his psychiatrist and Pediatric Neurologist for answers. It is at times very frustrating and we are constantly battling with him as he never wants to sleep at a reasonable hour. We have to implement incentives to try to help him understand our rules and to abide by them. As he gets older our job becomes more difficult and this is why we need to provide him with the discipline that he so desparately needs. We are in touch with the parent training counselor, Rebecca and her assistant, Liza who are very helpful and have given us wonderful suggestions and helped us implement a reward system that is helping.

Matthew is planning to write stories about his own experiences and will enjoy sharing them with others as he loves to write what he feels and if this will help him and maybe help a chld who feels the same then Matthew will be doing a wonderful thing. By simply writing about his feelings he is making positive steps and I encourage him to write and express all that is on his mind as I consider this a breakthrough that I am all for. I look forward to his next entries and I will help him in any way I can and most of all I will encourage him to write and be his biggest supporter and do his proofreading. Keep on writing Matthew! You have a lot to say and share!

Edward D. Iannielli III

How Matty got the bloody nose at the mall

It all started back in early 2004 when we lived at 47 Raspberry Lane in Levittown, New York. We were at the Sunrise Mall buying some clothes for school. About 10 minutes later Matty got a bump by running around the mall. Soon his nose started to bleed and we were scared. We went to the food court and it was bleeding a lot and we didn't know what to do. It was bleeding all over the floor. Even the shirt Matty was wearing was all covered in blood. We were very scared like crazy. The janitor mopped up the floor and cleaned it. Matthew was crying and so was Maria, she said "Help Help". We didn't know what to do still. So someone called the emergency. About five minutes later the ambulance came and took Matty and mommy inside. We hoped he would be ok. We went to Brunswick hospital that eventually closed down sometime in 2006. The blood stopped anyway. We were waiting in the hospital for like almost 2 hours. He got a little bored in there so we left at like 10 pm. The nurses were very nice to us and calmed Matty down and stopped his crying. We were glad that he was ok and because the blood stopped. Now it was time to go home and get some shut eye. It was like a nightmare but now it's over. At home Matty went to bed and thanked us for helping to stop the bleeding at the mall and hospital. He said good night and fell asleep. The End.

Matty Iannielli (with the help of)

Matthew has some difficult moments at school

As the father of a young son I am very protective of him especially due to his special needs and his epilepsy. My biggest wish for him is to grow and experience all that kids his age experience. I don't want him to be limited in his opportunities. I want him to be challenged and to find things that interest him and enable him to make friends. Matthew attends public school at Summit Lane Elementary school in Levittown, New York and he is in a self contained classroom setting with several teachers and assistants. His class size is small and he is with all boys in his classroom at the present time. He is mainstreamed in his art and music class and he enjoys that because there are girls in those classes.

Matthew gets individualized attention and has teachers who take an interest in his development. His 4th grade teacher, Mrs Kalb was very helpful and took a sincere interest in his learning abilities and kept us informed with his progress in the classroom and wrote us everyday. There were times when Matthew had his struggles and more than a few times I had to come to pick him up at the school for discipline problems. Matthew had wonderful teachers at Summit Lane and he had the same teacher, Mrs McKenna for the 1st grade thru the third grade who was very devoted to him and helped him tremendously.
She had a lot of patience and she always made sure Matthew was doing his best. He had his moments but overall he did well in her classroom.

Matthew had a school psychologist, Dr. Sean Haggerty that he would meet with on occassion to talk and speak his feelings to. He would always be available at the school board of education meetings and would always be there to help us place him in the appropriate program.

Our experiences at Summit Lane Elementary school overall were good and we knew the staff were there to support and help Matthew but it seemed he had some behavioral problems that they could not manage so they decided he might benefit from another school that is also in Levittown which is Salk Middle School where he will start 5th grade.

My real disheartening experience at Summit Lane Elementary school among the suspensions was a telephone conversation I had with Dr. Sally Evans who was upset about a particular instance where Matthew did something inappropriate in the school by spitting at another student for no reason. I was very upset with Matthew and I told him that this behavior is totally unacceptable and I punished him for several days as a result. In my conversation with Ms. Evans I appologised and told her that I spoke to Matthew about it and indicated to her that we do not condone this behavior and made that clear to him. As I appologised she said that Matthew can't help what he does and sometimes reacts and she mentioned as I felt her patience wearing thin that he would be permanently suspended from Summit Lane and she had the audacity to say that our son was hopeless. I was devastated when I heard her speak about my son this way and shocked as well as I did not know what else to say. Immediately I lost all respect for her and felt Matthew does not belong in that school if that is how the principal feels. I feel she should not be a principal if she feels that way about autistic and special needs children. She opened my eye to how ignorant some of our school administrators are and I would never want to see her again after that conversation. I feel she is unprofessional and very spiteful. My son needs a school environment that encourages self esteem and positive development. Her answer to my son's needs was to suspend him and criticize him. She is very ignorant and I am glad Matthew is out of her school.

Edward D. Iannielli III

Maria's life in the Philippines

As I said earlier I always wondered where the girl I would marry lived and how many brothers and sisters did she have and what school did she go to. After many conversations and talks I found out Maria was born on January 9, 1970, the 5th child of Teresita Napoles Gonzales and Alberto Gonzales in Tagakpan, Davao City Philippines. She was the 3rd oldest daughter of 4 girls and the next to youngest of the 5 surviving children as she lost a brother Marcello before she was born and she has one other brother, Nazario. Her sisters names are Fe, Isabelita and Tata.
They grew up in the countryside far from city life and life for them was tough at times as they managed on growing their own crops and working in the fields long hours. Maria was a typical girl but she was tough and was more of a tomboy growing up. She basically lived in a tight knit family and was raised christian. Their family was very religious. Maria attended Lavangal Elementary school where she attended from kindergarten thru 6th grade. She also attended high school and some college in the Philippines. She grew up with some close girl friends that she communicates with today. A few of her girl friends moved from their roots in the Phillippines as well. One of Maria's closest friends moved to Singapore and another one of her friends moved to Malaysia.

Maria wanted to make a better life for herself as well and she was in communication with her sister Fe who married an American in the Philippines and moved to the United States settling in Bayside, New York. Fe Gonzales Walton, the oldest child was the first to leave her family and homelife in the Philippines and she worked hard to make a life for herself and raise a family. She has a son and a daughter who were both born in the United States and have dual citizenship. She went back to school to study nursing and she works at Flushing Hospital in Queens as a head nurse and now resides in Mount Sinai in a dream house.

When Fe was struggling living in a small apartment in Bayside with her husband and 2 kids and studying she helped petition her sister Maria to the United States back in 1996 after many discussions with Maria as she also wanted to start a new life for herself as well. She was tired of living in poverty and not having many opportunities so she managed to come to Bayside to live with her sister and her family and she sought employment working as a live-in with a Greek diplomats family in Queens where she took care of their 2 children while the parents both worked. She stayed with the family for a year and a half until he was transferred to a new position.

After she left the Greek diplomat's family she found work as a live-in with a rich elderly couple whose children were all grown up and she was more of a housekeeper tending to the house and she had a small bedroom for herself and a tv. They lived in a wealthy area of Sands Point. She worked there for about a year and was working there when I met her.

Maria was very close to her family as she still had her mom and dad and her other siblings there and she would write them and try to send money to help the family. She was very responsible and very caring and she was missing her family but also very happy for the opportunity here. She longs to visit her home county sometime and feels it is inevitible as her dad is aging and his health is not so good. The flight to the Philippines is a long one as it usually is 24 or more hours of flying.

Maria's parents are wonderful people and I have had the priviledge of meeting them both and getting to know them. Maria's dad had a very difficult life growing up as he was a young child of 12 years old during WW II and he saw most of his family brutally murdered at the hands of enemy soldiers. His parents, aunts, uncles and siblings were senselessly gunned down in front of him and he was spared as the soldier who came upon him and saw him cowering told him to run and so he ran and sought out a family relative. He was fortunate to survive but was emotionally scarred for the rest of his life having witnessed the brutal murdering of his parents, his siblings and his family relatives. His aunt and uncle raised him as their son and gave him the best they could and he was so very appreciative and he always thought about his family and all that he lost and he cried many many times and despite such a tragedy he was a very kind and sensitive man who took very good care of his family.

Maria's mom was also born during that time and her family lived in a cave and once they knew they were threatened they had to move and found shelter and protection with the nuns in a nearby convent. The family stayed with the nuns and were provided a place to sleep and nourishing food and bible readings. Maria's mom, only 3 years old at the time was so touched by them that she devoted her life to studying the bible and teaching God's will to her family. They stayed at the convent for over a year and they were so grateful to the nuns as they saved them from a terrible fate. Maria's mom and dad had suffered terribly from the war but were lucky enough to meet and raise a family. It was truly a miracle how they were fortunate enough to meet and blessed with a wonderful family!

Maria always cries when she relates the hardships her parents went through as young children and feels very lucky that she is even here and she is so grateful for their survival and as she speaks of it she brings tears to my eyes and I feel blessed that I was fortunate to meet her and that her parents were saved by the goodwill of others.

Edward D. Iannielli III (with the help of)
Maria Jesusa Gonzales Iannielli

My dad always says there's a girl out there for you!

I always remember when I was a kid of about 10 or 11 years old my dad would always tell me how important it is to have friends and life is more rewarding when you get to share it with someone special. He would constantly remind me of this all throughout my teenage years into early adulthood. He told me how much happier he was when he met mom and he said when they first met he knew she was the one. He would always say there is a girl out there waiting for me and she is living her life as you are and she too is wondering about you too. He said it is God's will when a man and a woman come together and it is truly a miracle when they share a love and a bond so strong to bring a precious life into the world. I did think about it and often wondered the girl I would meet and how we would meet and where she lived and what she liked to do and what school she went to and how many brothers and sisters she had. It was something I took pleasure in thinking about because it made me excited to know that it was very possible that I would meet a girl very special to me.

I was very shy as a kid so my experiences with girls were very limited and as a teenager I wished I could talk with the girls but never really mustered up the nerve which frustrated me because I always wanted to have girl friends. I remember when I turned 15 or 16 I really noticed how cute the girls were and I felt very attracted and enjoyed any time they noticed me or said hello. I was quite shy and dealt with my shyness and insecurities with athletics as I developed an interest in running and I started training for the highschool cross country team. It was fun to run and it felt great to challenge myself and I felt great passing a pretty girl and getting a cheer or a whistle. Running to me was another escape for me and it helped me escape from the sad experiences within our family life. My family life was wonderful but we were very concerned for mom as she battled depression and had terrible mood swings that landed her in the hospital many times and it took a toll on our family so I would tend to run a lot or escape into my world of dressing just to escape the pain I felt and the overall helplessness I felt. I cried many times for my mom trying to help her and by giving her a hug but knew her condition could not be cured by hugs. She relied on so much medication and sometimes the medication seemed to make her worse. It was just so frustrating and I felt we were relying on doctors who only administered medicine to deal with the problem and they did not see how it affected her.

We went through difficult and emotional times trying to help mom with her illness and we spent many days at the hospital visiting her and letting her know how much we loved her and missed her. Dad worked hard during the day and was exhausted but he was always by mom's side and never missed a day as he truly loved her and we were so fortunate to have such loving and caring parents.

As mom managed through her depression and bi-polar disorder she would come home and we had to help transition her back home and ease her back to her normal routine. When she was well enough to go back to work we would make sure she was up to it and I would escort her to the train station making sure she got there ok and asked her to call me from work if she was having difficulty. We all tried to bond as a family and though we all had our issues and were far from perfect we all were kind and caring and respectful and we truly cared for each other and we had a strong family support system.

I was getting to my final year of highschool and knew I had to make plans for my future and knew college was in my plans and had to look for a program of study that would be suitable to my interests and strengths and was affordable. My mom went back to work so she could help me with my college as dad worked to maintain the house and provide for the family. I was still hoping to meet a girl but had more concerns now with planning a future for myself and choosing on colleges and a career path. It was a wakeup call growing into early adulthood and now having to make major decisions and I tried to seek advice from my parents and by taking it upon myself to go to the library to learn about popular careers. There was no such thing as the internet back then so research was a bit more painstaking and I had to rely on the dewey decimal system to find material for my research which now seems so antiquated.

So I tried to enjoy my senior year of highschool and continue my running and making friendships because I knew soon enough I would be in college studying hard so I could find a good career and then find a girl who I could share a life with and become a dad so I could have everlasting joy. Now I need to learn more about the girl I am to meet as I know she is out there and I am so excited to write about her as she will be a big part of my life and our story.

Edward D. Iannielli III

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Secrets we keep for our own reasons

I truly believe we all have ways of dealing with things in our own way and sometimes we are not willing to admit it or discuss it with others as it is very personal to us and we best keep it to ourselves. I have been living a life dedicated to my family and I always lived in a household that taught us love and respect and to treat others the same as we wish to be treated. I have always learned to honor and respect and commit myself to a moral and faithful life as my parents taught me. I was always taught to help the elderly in need and to treat ladies with respect and courtesy and to get along with everyone I met. I have always operated on the premise that you can never have enough friends. As a young boy I was very shy and I enjoyed my privacy at times and also times with friends. I never opened up to people about my inner feeling as I always kept them inside. I always enjoyed time alone where I could do my own thing so when I think of my son Matthew I certainly can relate. Though I know I was not diagnosed as autistic sometimes I felt I had similar patterns that autistic children experience and can certainly relate to my son's condition.

As an adult I still think back to those times of isolation and feelings of lonlieness and I realize how I was very lucky to get through them and grow into adulthood to accomplish all I have and to marry and be blessed with a wonderful son and it is my hope that our son can also grow into adulthood and not be limited and can achieve all he wishes. I know I will be behind him every step of the way with my wife as my parents were for me.

I certainly had a crippling shyness that caused me to withdraw and I felt especially shy around girls and feel this was unfortunate because when I think about it now they are just like us but obviously much cuter and sweeter!. I wished I had made friends with the girls in my childhood as I feel it would have made me more well rounded and a better person. Girls have a way of understanding and being more kinder and expressive of their feelings. As a shy kid I was free to do anything I wanted in my world I created for myself through my self imposed isolation and sometimes wished I could have had that time back to make a concious effort to try to come out of it and open up a bit more with my peers and enjoy more relationships with the girls. I always had crushes on the cute girls but I could never summon the nerve to talk to them and this made me feel sad as it limited my experiences. I read stories of people who have experienced the same things I have so I felt good that I was not alone yet I did feel alone because I was always isolating myself from others as I could not deal with others as I knew they would not appreciate that I was just painfully shy. I was always a good kid and a very quiet one and I lacked friends because my self confidence was low at times. My parents worked on helping me to be more proud of my accomplishments and to learn to acquire a higher level of self esteem.

I tried many times to break through this isolating world I created for myself but felt I had too many insecurities. I felt like I could do anything in my own world and I believe autistic children feel the same way in their world.

As an adult I feel I have made strides but still am shy and find it sometimes still a bit intimidating to speak with attractive women. Having grown up with family illness and uncertainty I would feel very depressed and all alone if I did not escape into my secret world from time to time. In fact I feel this is what kept me sane and allowed me to grow and become a very sensitive, compassionate and truly understanding person. It taught me that we should never judge others and we should always accept them as we are all created by God and are all special.

I am a strong person having dealt with so many tragedies in my life and I always know that life is a gift and we are always caught up in the petty things of life never looking at the complete picture. When I see the complete picture I gain perspective and when I gain perspective I then understand what is most important. We are not guaranteed tomorrow so we must live each day to the fullest because we have a job and a responsibility. I know I want to live to see my son grow up and go to college and hopefully marry one day. I will not pressure him but I wish for him to have everything I have been fortunate to have and my love for my son is infinite and I will never judge him as my parents never judged me. They embraced me as I embrace my son and I will guide him and help him as best I can. My son is autistic and I understand he is different from others as I felt different as a kid myself but we are all capable of great things and should always be encouraged so we can achieve and see the most important part of the picture which is love and understanding.

I will live my life for my family and be the best I can and still cope with my feelings and escape into my imaginary world from time to time as we all need to escape the realities of life from time to time. It is what makes us human.

Edward D. Iannielli III

Coping with the loss of my dad

I went through this before when mom had passed and it was a very sad and difficult time for me as I had been sad and depressed for a long time and needed eventual assistance to help me through it. Mom was sick for a long time so we knew we would eventually lose her but the pain was still so difficult to bear.

With dad's loss it was a complete shock as we did not see it coming. He was 73 years old and in reasonably good health. He was on medication to help stabilize his mood and he also had to monitor his blood sugar levels for diabetes. He was very active and was a daily part of all the grandchildrens lives. He enjoyed all the kids and talked so proudly of all of them.

So when I found out that dad had died of an apparent suicide and the way he died and the fact that it was so sudden and unexpected I just had so much shock and numbness and feelings of depression, anxiety, guilt and an overwhelming feeling of helplessness. I knew I had to do something as I have a family and a 10 year old special needs son who is the center of my life and I had to be strong for him. I did need some time to grieve my dad and think back to all the many happy times we shared as a family. I knew this pain I felt would never go away as the pain I feel for mom is still with me. I just need to try to find a way to manage it and cope as best I can with the situation. I believe in life we are all faced with challenges and loss which is inevitable and the way we handle them is very important and if we need to talk with others it is very important that we do so. It is also important to talk with a medical professional if you are feeling depressed or have continual anxiety. I have been suffering from depression and anxiety of late and am trying to find the right form of medication to help eliviate those feelings.

Life is so fragile and we walk a fine line and we have a lot of experiences and joys. We also have periods of sadness and difficult times and we try to find a balance in dealing with all that we are confronted with. In the aftermath of my dad's death I tried to keep myself busy as my employer allowed me to take as much bereavement time to deal with the grief I felt. I agreed I would take the full week and be back to work the following Monday as that was what my dad would want. He would not want me to wallow in pity and sadness and he would expect that I get back to life as usual. I had a hard task ahead of me in explaining to my son that dad was gone and I was not quite up to it yet so I would leave that for another day. Right now I felt I had to take care of myself however selfish that sounds but realize I can't help others if I am having trouble helping myself. I went to see my doctor and he prescribed me antidepressants to help me with my overwhelming feeling of sadness and depression. I also needed to write my feelings out so I used Youtube and Facebook as a way to express my feelings and dedicated songs to my dad and wrote touching sentiments about him which attracted some attention and beautiful responses of condolences and good wishes which was very helpful.

I sometimes keep things to myself and have a hard time expressing them and one way I deal with it is to either take a drive with no particular destination or I take a walk. One night I was feeling a bit down so I decided to take a walk and I was not sure exactly where to walk to as I usually walk in the neighborhood around the nearby blocks. This night however I walked out side of the neighborhood to newbridge road which is a main road and headed north in the direction of the hicksville train station. I decided to continue walking in that direction with the goal of reaching it. I was running all sorts of things through my mind and felt I was on overdrive and had only one thing in mind which was to go to the platform of the station. I really did not know exactly why but I felt I had to. As I approched the station which was a 3 mile walk in one direction I proceeded to the platform and when I got to the top I walked down to the middle of it so I could catch the trains going by. I decided to lean at the edge of the platform to try to understand what was going through my dad's mind when he supposedly leaned into the path of an oncoming train speeding through the Bellmore train station.

I felt an overwhelming feeling of sadness and dispair as I stood there watching the trains go by and knowing my dad was struck by one and I just could not believe it. I started to tear up and I prayed for my dad and spoke to him like I always did to tell him how much I loved him and enjoyed all the special times we shared and how wonderful he was to my family and how great a grandfather he was to Matthew. I told him I was sorry to lose him and prayed that he was free of pain and with mom. I stayed at the station for a half hour just standing on the platform watching the trains go by and thinking of my poor dad. I started to feel overwhelmed with grief and decided I had to go so I headed down the stairs as I looked skyward to give my dad a wave good bye and tell him I miss him and love him. As I walked down the stairs I was crying and started my walk home thinking how special my dad was and how we all will miss him very much. I did not really benefit from the experience but felt it was something I had to do as part of the grieving process. The next major obstacle I had ahead of myself was explaining about dad to my son. I was going to need help from my wife to speak about it. I am still dealing with the tragedy and trying my best to cope and I am fortunate to have a wonderful family, wonderful sisters and their families, wonderful relatives and wonderful friends. I am also grateful for facebook, youtube and blogspot to allow me to express my feelings. My dad was a wonderful man and I am so happy we had him for as long as we did. I am just sorry he was experiencing such pain and I could not be there to help him in his time of need as he has always been there for us.

Dad was wonderful and will be truly missed and I tell you that I will be ok because I am devoted to my special needs son and need to be strong for both my wife and son.

May you always be at peace and reunited with mom!


your son

Ed and his wife Maria and precious son, your grandson Matthew

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Final farewell to dad

We lost dad unexpectedly and suddenly on Thursday, April 16th; planned his funeral on Friday; reflected about him on Saturday; waked him on Sunday and burried him on Monday. It was a very difficult 5 days and we had to show how brave and couragious we were and how proud we were for our dad. It was a sad and emotional time for my sisters and I and we had to console our children as they were so upset about poor pop. Grandpa was such a big part of our lives and he lived for his grandchildren. He would always be available to babysit, attend soccer games, attend dance recitals, attend little league baseball games and take the kids out to Friendly's, Dunkin Donuts or the mall. He was just like a big kid and he was so gentle and had a heart as big as the tallest buildings he worked on. I looked at pictures of our family on Saturday and tried to remember back to the times when we were young kids and had such happy times and wonderful memories of our parents in their younger days. I showed Matty pictures of mom and dad when I was a kid and my baby pictures. It was very emotional looking back at those pictures and remembering our family when we were young and all together. It seems like such a happier time and a blur at the same time.

I was too upset to put a collage together so I asked Maria if she could help me out and put one together with pictures of pop, my sisters and I, our mom and us with Matthew. I gave her 5 small poster boards to work with and when I get back from my errands I would bring them to the funeral parlor. She did a great job and I was so proud to bring them to be viewed at his wake. Dad was very special and he did not like a fuss but he deserved a fitting tribute as he was such a devoted family man and a very dedicated ironworker and he also proudly served his country.

We knew based on how dad died we would not be able to view him as a closed casket was necessary. We were struggling with this but knew it was the right thing to do as we did not want to see our poor dad in that condition. I wanted to remember him how I always knew him and just pray that he is at peace and reunited with his wife, our beautiful mother. They were so perfect together.

Dad had been a very quiet person and pretty much kept to himself but he had such a tremendous turnout at his wake and we were very appreciative for the outpouring of love and sympathies given to our dad. We were so grateful to see so many relatives, friends, coworkers and dad's ironworker buddies. I was moved by it all and I had a special visitor from my highschool days who I had not seen in 30 years and I was so touched by seeing him their. Marty Schindelheim has always been a great friend of mine back in highschool and I was so delighted to see him there. My friends Jeff Saper, Sandy Nassau, Howard Kurpit and his sweet wife Angela were also there. Robert Findaro, a friend from my Contiki European tour came. My co-workers from the office came as well which meant a lot to me. Janet Adams, the office manager who is like a mom to all of us helped console me when she called and left such a beautiful message on my phone. I was very touched and she has always been a great friend to me. Lucila spent at least an hour talking with me and consoling me and I was so deeply appreciative as she is such a wonderful and caring person. Dimi Green and her sister also came as did Melissa Gallagher, her husband Brian Gallagher and their cute little baby girl. Elaine Evans, Tami Stein and Vanessa also came. Russel and Betsy Mantel were there as were Larry Kweit, Janet Bernzott, Nora and Steve. Bruce Handler who was there for me and called me to check in to see how I was doing was there with Jeff Luzim. Diane and her husband also came to pay tribute to my dad. James Nolan came with his mom and sister too which was very sweet. My co-worker and friend John Curnyn and his girlfriend Victoria were there also.

The priest spoke at dad's wake and talked about him as a family man, a loving husband and father. A doting grandfather and a very dedicated ironworker. He was such a compassionate person and would always help each of his children and be very supportive and selfless as he always put us ahead of his needs. We had the opportunity to speak on behalf of Dad as Kathy volunteered first and she spoke very well of dad and painted such a beautiful picture of him through her words. We were so very proud. I then decided to honor my dad and I spoke of my dad in the only way I knew him which was as a very loving dad and very loyal husband to mom. I knew him as also a very proud ironworker who took his work seriously and was responsible for building many impressive skyscrapers that lined the city, building the verazzano bridge, many hospitals, court houses and schools. My dad gave every ounce of himself and he certainly was my hero. My sister Joan gave the most touching tribute with her 4 kids each saying something about their beloved pop. They all had tears and fond memories of pop and they all touched us with their words of love and praise and their tears.

I was so happy to see dad's brothers Bobby and Billy Iannielli and their beautiful wifes. We also were happy to see Dad's late brother Donald's wife Aunt Anne and their children Susan, Nancy, Donald, Timmy and their families. Uncle Kevin and Aunt Pat Moran, sister to my mom and their children and our cousins Coleen, Maureen and their families were also there to lend their support and grieve with us.

I also saw a lot of our family friends. Josie and Mark Krug and the little girl Daniella who grandma baby sits for during the week was there with her family. We were touched by all who came to pay tribute and I tried to thank everyone. Mrs Keller and her son William also came to lend their support as did our neighbor in Levittown, Carmella and her husband.

I was so amazed by the crowd of people and deeply honored for dad as he was so special to me and my family and I was so very sad. I held back the tears but I could not as my good friend from work Elaine Evans gave me such a hug and I could not help but cry. She has a way of tapping into my sensitive side which I very much appreciate.

After the 2 sessions ended we headed for home and I said farewell to all my friends and family relatives. Joanie and Mike had a gathering at their house for the day of the wake and a lot of family and friends had stopped over. Maria was with Matthew for most of the day and spent time there as it was hard to control him at the wake. Matthew played games and ran around. I was exhausted and emotionally drained knowing tomorrow would be a difficult day as we say farewell to our dad which I was not quite ready to do but knew I had to do with a heavy heart.

I went to sleep but kept thinking about poor dad and what had happened and I just could not find peace as I just was horrified and could only envision the tragedy and pain I felt for him. I was devastated. As morning came I knew we were preparing for a very sad day and the weather was rainy and gloomy and I knew this would be a very sad day but I would try my best to be couragious for my dad and for my family.

We all gathered back at the funeral parlor to say our last goodbyes to dad and say our prayers before we headed over to the church service. The priest who was saying the mass for dad was specially selected as he knew dad and he was very popular in the parish. As we walked in as dad's coffin was carried in we all had been wiping our tears and consoling our children. It was difficult but we managed to walk in the church and I was so happy to see Janet Adams, Russel and Betsy, Lucila and Diane. They were so kind in coming and they made me feel good. The priest spoke so eloquently at the service and the alter servers were wonderful. There were so many kids at Dad's funeral as they were the friends of all our kids who got to know pop and treated him like family. The priest spoke of my dad and the life he led and how wonderful a person he was and all the sad tragedies he dealt with but managed to be strong and provide all of us a tremendous gift of his love and support. After his wonderful speech he signaled us to bring the gifts up to the alter so he could serve communion. After the communion Father summoned Joannie to read her Eulogy of Dad and she read it with heart, compassion and with love shining through for our dad. She was tremendous as she read everything from her experiences as a little girl to her visit with dad in the city and she spoke from her heart. There was not a dry eye in the audience. We were all impressed and felt she gave such a beautiful tribute to dad. After the mass we all gathered with the kids and walked down the aisle as I glanced at the many faces and acknowledging their visit. I saw Elizabeth Gill, a client of the firm as I walked towards the back and reached over to thank her and give her a smile. We were escorted into limousines to follow the hearse carrying dad's body. Dad was being burried next to mom and was being given a full honors naval military burial. We drove past our old house in Bellmore before driving to dad's final resting place. As we drove the limo driver made sure the procession was ready to follow. We drove slowly towards the wantagh parkway and entered the ramp and proceeded onto the parkway enroute to the cemetary where dad would finally be reunited with his wife.

As we arrived at the cemetary we needed umbrellas as the rains started to come down pretty steadily. We made it to the grave site where there were 2 sailors who removed the flag from dad's coffin and folded it in a special way and presented it to Gregory, serving in the Maines Corps in honor of dad. It was very touching. The priest gathered at the site to say prayers and asked every one to remember Edward as a kind man and know that he is at peace now with his wife again and that we are all blessed for having him as a part of our life. He blessed his coffin and asked everyone to place a flower at the coffin. I stood near the coffin to say my final goodbye to dad with tears in my eyes and told him how much I love him and will miss him and I pray for both him and mom and am glad they are back together after so many years, I said my final goodbye to dad at his funeral and shed some tears and told him I would be back to visit him and mom again and that I love them both so very much and thanked them for all they did for me and my family and how we will truly miss them

God Bless you Dad. I love you and mommy very much and miss you both.

Ed, Maria & Mattew Iannielli