Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Life Lessons: Learning from my autistic son
If I could speak in front of an audience about how I have learned a lot about life from my autistic son I would welcome it with open arms and I would not have any stage fright at all because the love I have for my son is abundant and it is everlasting and the things I learned from my son have made me a better person. My son helps me get through difficult days and helps me manage a smile each and every day. It is my son who gives me strength and courage and allows me to do my very best because I want to provide a good example and teach my son all that my mom and dad taught me about being responsible, dedicated and respectful. It is with great joy and honor I talk of my son and share how life is so much more meaningful and pleasant with both my wife and son in my life. There is a very special quality about Matthew that I have grown to see and experience and am so proud of him in how he is developing. He has some challenges in his life but he does not seem to be deterred by them. In fact he seems to go about his life as if everything is fine. Occasionally he will have a difficult day and react in a way that is not appropriate but for the most part he is a very happy kid and he has a heart and spirit that truly inspires.
I owe a lot to my son who has inspired me to write and create a page devoted to Autism so I can reach out to him, my family and all who are affected in some way by it. I believe that he has an internal drive that will enable him to get through his challenges and make him stronger and wiser. He certainly has a maturity and a presence about himself that is quite remarkable and I feel very confident in his abilities and his coping skills. I know at times he can get easily frustrated and I find that is not an uncommon feeling for most of us. I find that it is easy to get frustrated but hopefully as we get older we know that we should not let our emotions control how we should act and behave. We all have to go through the growing pains of maturing and controlling our emotions, thoughts and desires.
The importance of fatherhood is bonding with your child and I have bonded with my son since day one. It is a wonder and a dream for me having a son. Matthew is such a wonderful kid and I always feel emotion when I talk of him. I have very legitimate concerns for my son as I know epilepsy and autism have such a hold on him and he has to take medication but he still lives his life as a free spirit and I know in my heart that he truly understands his situation and he takes it in stride and tries to not let it control him. I find this a very admirable trait and it just inspires me to get past my own insecurities. I feel that God presents us with challenges because he knows we can handle them and it helps us become stronger and helps us in developing confidence and provides us with a level of maturity which is essential today. Matthew may look at the world a little differently than most kids his age but his youthful spirit and innocence is what makes knowing him a privilege and a joy.
It is a nice feeling when you make a positive impression and you have the ability to open up and express how you feel to others. The key for most autistic children is their socialization skills and their ability to express themselves through interaction and communication. My wish for my son is that he overcomes his challenges posed by autism and that his inner spirit helps guide him and gives him hope and desire to always face those challenges. I also ask that he is blessed with a strength and courage that will always help him get through difficult days. I wish for my son to also develop social skills that will take him anywhere in his life and help him achieve his goals and help him in developing many friends throughout the years.
I know from my own experiences in growing up how life can sometimes be intimidating and we have periods where we feel alone and have many uncertainties. As I see my son deal with his challenges and knowing that he has had seizures and has had autistic meltdowns and despite it all he seems to come through them and continue with his daily life and not let it get in his way of living his life. To me this is the ultimate test of bravery and I am such a proud father. I would speak about my son and his tremendous spirit any time and any day and in a gathering of close family and friends or a major auditorium of thousands because it makes me realize how special my son is and how much I love him.
Edward D. Iannielli III