Monday, January 18, 2010
Listening to your child
Did you ever feel that you are not always in tune with your child and what they are thinking or trying to say to you? I sometimes feel I disappoint my son but it is not intentional. I just feel we live such busy lives and we are so preoccupied with all the day to day things that we sometimes are not always there to give the necessary attention to our child that they need. This really makes me concerned because as a father I want to always be there for my son and to help him when he has difficulties or anxieties. I don't want him to feel all alone and have to work through it on his own. I want him to know that I will always be there for him in my lifetime and welcome him to talk to me whenever he needs to.
I know I felt alone as a child on occasion because my dad, who I loved and respected very much worked very hard in his line of work which was physically demanding and he suffered injury and close calls. I know he loved me and the times we did have together were special even if we didn't talk all that much. Dad was old school in his approach to life and he was a very kind, caring, compassionate and humble man. He had one of the best work ethics and he always was there for mom and us. I was very close to my mom growing up and she was wonderful. I could talk to her about my day at school or my frustration in a baseball game or my first crush on a girl. She was my sounding board and she was always there for me. I always appreciated that with my mom and we also had wonderful times cheering our NY Mets.
With my son I find it very important to bond with him and help him to open up and to express himself. My wife and I want our son to start to get more involved with classmates in his school after class and we need to try to arrange play dates for him so he can have a chance to make friends. It is so important to establish friendships because we can learn from each other and we can see that we don't always have to be alone. It is a difficult thing to feel like you are alone all the time and it breaks my heart to see my son doing things alone most of the time. It is so important to get involved in activities, organizations, clubs, sports, music, art or whatever interests you and to connect with others so you can open up and grow as a person. The only way we can truly grow is if we interact with one another and start to feel accepted.
Autistic children do tend to find difficulty in socializing and also tend to find comfort in doing things they are accustomed to as that is a safe place for them and they can occupy themselves for hours if they enjoy the activity. If it is something that they can learn from and develop a skill it will be beneficial to them but it is also important if they have diversity. I always felt too much of the same thing is not good. You need to expand and learn new things so you can grow and develop new skills. I am trying to help encourage my son in things he likes and he does enjoy singing so whenever we have get togethers we always give Matthew the opportunity to sing and share his enjoyment with others. He does not like to be commended on a good performance so we try to be restrained and low key but deep down we are very proud of him when he sings well.
I need to have a great amount of patience with my son and a great deal of understanding because he has a completely different way of perceiving things and reacts sometimes in ways that are not always proper and we need to teach him the right way and have him learn and understand. He sometimes gets easily frustrated and this is what I am trying so hard to work on with him. I am trying to teach him to approach things with patience and to work through the difficult moments. They won't always be difficult and the more experience he gains the better he will be in adapting and coping. Coping skills are so important and you need to live a long time to learn how to cope. We all will encounter stresses and difficult times and if we can learn to be strong in our mindset and to have courage and confidence we will be able to ride the difficult times. It may not be easy but we all have to learn to cope and be optimistic in our approach to life.
My wife is also preoccupied with her work and it is very important that she finds time to spend with Matthew just like I need to spend time with him as well. When you have a child you want to always do the right things for them and to give them all the support and guidance they need and the most important thing to provide to them is an ear to listen to them because that is where we sometimes fall short. We always have to give them time to talk and tell us what they are feeling and how things are with them. Children are very smart and they also are very fragile and they need to be heard and to be loved.
Edward D. Iannielli III