Thursday, April 29, 2010

Autism vision

The world to most of us is a very confusing and intimidating place and it takes a long time to prepare for the challenges that lay ahead. We have to learn our ABC's in kindergarten, the multiplication tables in the 1st grade, reading and spelling in the 2nd grade, math and science in the 3rd grade and then we have grades 4 through 12 where we learn everything else we need too so we can go on to college and prepare for the "real world". We need a strong support system to complete our schooling and to continue our education with our college ambitions. As young students we typically need encouragement and a feeling of comfort and nurturing. We all seek acceptance and crave attention. We all are individuals and we all have different views and ways of seeing and understanding things. We all have different strengths so we should evaluate those strengths and weaknesses so we can find suitable goals based on our talents and interests.

We also learn through the many social experiences we have which is a very important aspect of our life. Learning to make friends and treat each other with respect is something we all must learn so we can become well adjusted and develop our personality.

We need to understand that friendships are so valuable in our lives and the more people we meet and befriend and the more experiences we have will help us learn the true meaning of life and what is important. For autistic children the ability to develop meaningful relationships is more difficult because they lack the necessary social skills that enable them to communicate and express themselves. They tend to avoid these social situations and prefer to be alone in their own world doing the things that make them happy. They are used to repetitive forms of expression and they are extremely sensitive to sound and tend to have difficulty making eye contact. They also do not always know proper decorum as they tend to be reactionary in how they behave. They can be very calm and engaging one moment and something could set them off like a high pitched siren sound which will affect them and they will lose it behaviorally. In this case they will tend to be overwhelmed and then their behavior will become an issue and they will most likely have a meltdown.

Autism is so far reaching as it not only affects the child with the diagnosis but it affects all the family members and all the people involved in the child's life such as teachers, friends and family relatives. If we could identify the cause of autism we would hopefully find a way to help those affected by it. Most autistic children and adults can function and take on responsibilities but their abilities and their needs have to be addressed and proper action has to be taken. Currently there is no real known cause of autism but there are a lot of theories and suppositions. Until we have absolute documented proof of the causes there will only be theories as to why it occurs and why it is so prevalent.

In order to have hope we need to have vision for brighter days ahead despite an autism diagnosis and we need to have faith in God and internal strength.
With an autism diagnosis comes a lot of questions and a lot of uncertainty. We just have to try to deal with it as best we can if we are the parents of an autistic child and we need to make sure our child will have all the care and help they need to help them and show them the way. We will always be there for them and treat them no differently and will be very supportive and very understanding. Autistic children need love, support, hope, encouragement, the ability to dream and a clear vision of what the possibilities are despite their autism. If you ask an autistic child what they wish for you will be surprised that most will say all they wish for is to be understood and loved and that is after all what most of us wish for.

Autistic children are no different and they are truly very special and very wise. They have such a way about themselves that warrant our attention and our love and they give us hope with their vision and their innocence. I am always amazed with my son's approach to life and his vision of the world and I see him as a child that makes me very happy and proud. I see my son as a bright and wonderful young boy with hopes and dreams and a vision of a brighter world where we all get along and accept each other and there is peace and joy in the world. My son has a wonderful innocence about life and we always encourage him to hold on to his dreams and to keep hold of his vision too for that is what gives us hope.

Edward D. Iannielli III

Monday, April 26, 2010

Am I autistic or just shy?

Sometimes I ponder this question because I have felt growing up that I was very shy and preferred to do things by myself most of the time. I did participate in team sports when I was younger when I played little league baseball from 1970 through 1972 and in high school when I ran cross country from 1978 through 1979. Aside from those experiences which I did enjoy I kept pretty much to myself. Even when I ran cross country, by the very nature of the sport I was alone for the most part but did run in groups with my teammates. I just felt more comfortable avoiding the social pressures and I managed to avoid many social related situations. I attributed a lot of that to being painfully shy. I even felt awkward in dating situations though I did have many crushes on the girls but due to my shyness I avoided dating and relationships. Through the years the only person I felt comfortable speaking to and expressing myself to was my mother. She was very understanding and helped give me sound advice. My dad was very helpful too but his job was very demanding so I did not want to burden him with my concerns.

I believe our personality and how we view the world is both learned and inherited. I am not sure exactly what determines whether we will be shy or outgoing. I feel we all have different levels of comfort and we react accordingly. Despite my shyness I managed to do well in school and I did enjoy competition and managed making friends. I just felt that I limited myself more because I did not always choose to participate preferring to keep a low profile.

I even remember having "butterflies" whenever I had to speak in front of the class or if I was called upon to answer a question. I usually responded with the correct answer but that did not alleviate the anxiety I felt.

Drawing upon my son's experiences knowing his situation and diagnosis I too found that I would withdraw from crowds and preferred to occupy myself with things I enjoyed doing by myself. I remember as a kid I loved collecting baseball cards and matchbox cars and I also spent long periods of time arranging my cards by set comparing to the checklists and organizing them in numerical order. Is it coincidental or was that behavior of an autistic child? I was never diagnosed as autistic so I am just theorizing but find it is a valid question. In my mind I do not believe I am autistic but do know that I still battle with my shyness. I am able to conduct myself and talk with others as I have made tremendous strides but I still feel I have difficulty making eye contact and feel this has to do with my shyness.

I also feel that though I was shy as a child I knew how to conduct myself and I always behaved properly and did not react unfavorably to stimuli. I never had any sensitivities or problems with behavior. I know my son has difficulties in knowing how to relate and he does have sensitivities and when he is upset by outside "triggers" he will react out and his behavior will change. One minute he will be perfectly calm and then if something "triggers" him in a negative way he will have a difficult time and will be susceptible to a meltdown.

I know when my son is going through a meltdown it is very hard to penetrate his world and he is totally out of control. He will be very difficult and it takes a considerable amount of strength both physically and emotionally to get him back to a calm state of mind. I feel very consumed by these episodes and I only hope they are with me only. I do however know he has had them in school as well so it is not only with me that he loses his composure. This is definitely a telltale sign of a child having autism. They can not separate their feelings from how they react and they are generally unpredictable in how they will be from one day to the next.

Knowing from my own insecurities and personal experiences I may not always be the best one to give advice but speaking from my heart I know that I love my son and will do anything to help him through his difficulties and will always try my best to get him the proper support and guidance that he needs. I want my son to know he is OK and that he has so much to be grateful for. He is certainly the best thing to happen in my life and I am very fortunate to have a wonderful wife and son. Since marrying and becoming a father to a wonderful boy I have come along way in how I perceive things and how I relate to others. I have also managed to deal with my shyness much better and am working to do all I can to help my son manage in the world despite his autism just like my parents helped me despite my shyness.

We all have our imperfections which is what makes us unique and all we have to realize is it's OK to have these imperfections. We just have to learn from them and accept them and just try to do the best we can and we also need to find peace and happiness from within and believe in God and find strength from him and seek help and guidance from our family.

Edward D. Iannielli III

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Finding peace and tranquility with family and by myself

Sometimes we face things in our life that bring us to emotional lows and we need to try to be strong and find the support we need to help get through it. After all we all are human and we all have feelings and we need to express them so we don't keep them bottled up within us causing us further sadness, depression and a sense of hopelessness. Unfortunately we will all go through difficult and sad periods in our life and we need to find inspiration, guidance, hope, love, peace and time both with our families on fun excursions and time by ourselves.

I know in my life I have dealt with the death of my parents and other loved ones. I am also dealing with the heartbreak of raising a child with autism and epilepsy and although there are some positives that come with autism there are a lot of concerns and worries too. I feel consumed at times and need to turn to others or just take a walk and be by myself.

I find there are many places to accomplish walking by myself and just dealing with life and the bigger picture. When I wish to be with family I find the beach is a wonderful place to take a stroll and I particularly like walking along the shore line with my wife and son. My son sometimes enjoys staying in one place and drawing in the sand and testing the shore line. He also likes to build castles with moats and loves when the water spills over into the designated moats he created. As all kids love the beach my son can spend hours at a time there and that is one of life's pleasures and a memory I love holding on to in my mind. I feel the human mind can be an awesome camera because in your mind you can hold on to images and picture them pretty vividly no matter how much time goes by. Obviously a digital camera also comes in handy and I find it enjoyable taking family pictures at the beach and cherishing the memories later on by viewing them on the computer and in our family album. Another fun place to walk with family at the beach is the boardwalk and I find it a form of healthy exercise and it helps ease the mind from it's burdens.

Another place I like to go with my wife and son when I am blessed to have the day with them is at a park like Newbridge Road Park or Eisenhower Park. Sometimes the drive is as much fun as being at the park and one of our favorite family excursions is the Montauk Point Lighthouse where we love to stroll by the rocky shoreline and up to the historic lighthouse. Life is so much more pleasurable when you spend it with the ones you love and take in the beautiful sites and sounds.

Since I am on the topic of beaches our all time favorite family destination spot is Virginia Beach where we just love spending time on the beach and the boardwalk walking and riding bicycles. Swimming in the ocean with the backdrop of hotels is one of my favorite images of Virginia Beach and we always have fun times there and in the hotel. We also love walking along the boardwalk at nighttime either right before or right after dinner and sometimes right before bedtime.

Another favorite family destination spot in Virginia we love to spend time at are the amusement parks and historical grounds of Williamsburg, Virginia. We usually spend a full day at Bush Gardens walking to all our favorite attractions and stopping to eat when the need arises. One of the most beautiful walks in the Williamsburg area are the historical grounds of Colonial Williamsburg where it is like taking a step back in time and learning a piece of our nation's history. Walking can be tiring especially with young children and the elderly so we always make sure we make the necessary resting stops along the way for our son and for grandma.

Another favorite destination place we have gone a couple of times when Matty was a young child with short lived memories and more recently where he now has more vivid memories is Hershey Park, Pennsylvania which is by far the "sweetest place on earth." It is such a joy spending time in these family fun places where we all are "kids" for the day enjoying the time with our children.

A place that is pure magic where my wife and I honeymooned and certainly look forward to taking Matty and grandma sometime is Walt Disney World. Matty's all time favorite person in the whole wide world aside from his mom, dad, grandma and his beloved pop is the man who created Mickey Mouse and all those beautiful animation movies, Walt Disney. He loves all his movies and just loves all his contributions.

One of Matty's biggest joys is visiting at the Mystic Aquarium in Mystic Connecticut and The world famous Bronx Zoo. We love looking at the sea life at the aquarium and the animal life at the zoo and never tire of it. It is one of our favorite ways to spend the day with the ones we love. I take great joy in seeing the smile on my son's face and it makes me very happy.

A place I make it a point to go to on occasion sometimes with my family and sometimes alone which is a solemn place is the cemetery which is the final resting place for my parents and infant nephew. When we go all together as family we visit briefly to say a prayer and Matty in his infinite wisdom calmly states that Pop and grandma Catherine and baby Timothy are doing fine. He then runs off as typical kids do. After we pay our respects we catch up to Matty and quietly leave and go to Nathan's for lunch and the arcade. When I need to reflect more and walk around I go to the cemetery alone and I spend more time praying and holding on to the memories and I divide my time between both locations. I visit to pray for my mom and dad first and then I visit in the baby section which is very emotional and I pray for my nephew and all the babies. It brings tears to my eyes when I see all the names of these little angels and the inscriptions. In some cases I see names of twins on these tiny head stones meeting with God on the same day or days apart. I can't help but feel sad for these babies and their families but realize they are angels and hopefully their parents and siblings are comforted in their grief of losing their precious babies too soon. I am touched when I read these inscriptions and I can not help but cry. One such writing which I found very touching was written for a baby girl and it simply stated "Touched by an angel and then she slept." Another writing I read also for a baby girl which was very emotional and read as follows: "We held you but a moment and you touched us forever." The hardest part is seeing all the toys and figurines nestled by the babies headstones left by the parents and family. It really touches my heart and makes me want to hug my son and appreciate all the moments I share with him.

As I leave the baby section I sometimes stroll and read the grave stones in sections as I leave and I read of those who lived long lives and others whose lives were cut short. Some as young children, some as teenagers, some in their 20's, some in their 30's and some in their 40's. They are daughters, sons, mothers, fathers, grand parents. Some left way too young and they all have stories. It is so very sad and it makes me truly appreciate our life here though it is difficult at times and it makes you want to spend as much time with your children as you can.

Edward D. Iannielli III

Friday, April 23, 2010

Celebrating our child's uniqueness, celebrating autism

I have come full circle in my view of life and what is most important. I have been through life's ups and downs and have experienced both joy and heartbreak. The same can be said for the roller coaster ride my wife and I have been on with our son and his diagnosis of autism. I can say I have come along way from when I first recognized our son was different in how he reacted to his surroundings. My wife sensed it first when he was an infant when he apparently was not responsive to the sound of her voice. We didn't really know what to make of it initially. When our son turned 2 we were concerned since he had not yet spoken a word and that was when we realized we had to do something after the doctor suggested we consider the process of early intervention. It was fortunate that our son was approved for the early intervention program which was what we were hoping for. He benefited from the one on one interaction with the therapists who came to the house to provide him with the needed therapies recommended and they were very dedicated to their work and dedicated to helping our son. My wife and I were very concerned for our son, naturally not really knowing what a diagnosis of autism really means.

You feel like your world has been turned upside down in that instant moment when you hear the diagnosis of autism and all you can think of is your poor child and how they will be affected and the limitations, the trials, the teasing and the difficulties they will encounter and selfishly the heartbreak you feel not knowing what the future will hold for your child. As I realized his diagnosis was for real I became withdrawn and pondered why our son had to endure this and why we had to pretty much become resigned to this sad reality. I was not very positive in the first couple of years but I was encouraged with the early intervention program and the therapies our son was receiving.

I then did research and a lot of reading on the internet trying to gleam some hope from this mystery diagnosis of autism which seems to be on the rise. As I read and learned things I started to see some positive characteristics of autism and I saw that these positives were also common to my son's situation. I realized when my son started to talk and express himself after the therapies which proved very helpful that he was very intelligent and he had an appetite for reading. He was above average in his reading skills and seemed to enjoy it. We started him on Dr Seuss books which he really enjoyed and eventually the Magic treehouse series of books written by Mary Pope Osborne. He loved to read the stories in sequential order and initially was more interested in the number of pages in the book and the number of words on a page. It seems autistic children have a need to know numbers and how many there are of something which seems to be very important to our son. He also enjoys arranging things in numerical order and in alphabetical order and he is always right in his ordering sequence.

In addition to enjoying reading stories our son also enjoys writing as he too writes a blog about the things important to him. He has a good way of expressing himself through his writing and we are very proud of him and encourage him often. We do have to work with him when it comes to his homework as he is not disciplined enough or independent to do it on his own. We have to monitor him and make sure he completes it. So we do have to deal with both positives and the areas where he needs to make improvement. As the parent of an autistic child it is necessary to have patience and devotion for your child and a committed determination to help them and be there for them every step of the way.

I realize that our son sometimes can not help how he behaves or reacts based on his inner mind's hard wiring which is influenced by his autism so we have to be more understanding but also have to try to show him how to behave and react in a way that will help him so he understands. Through the frustrations I have come to also recognize the joys and the happy moments. So with a diagnosis of autism comes hope and we are encouraged more than ever and we feel our son will have as much of a chance as any child and we are fortunate that our son is in a school where the teachers are aware of his needs and are working in conjunction with the school district and with us in finding a suitable program so our son can achieve and make progress.

We are celebrating our son's uniqueness and we are recognizing the good attributes that come with a diagnosis of autism and knowing we have love in our heart for our son and faith in God we will help him get through it and let him know how truly special he is and that he should never feel ashamed of being autistic. In a phrase I will sum it up in our son's words: " Hi! My name is Matty and I am A OK!"

Edward D. Iannielli III

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Conversations with my son

As a parent it is a joy to have conversations with our children. I always look forward to speaking with my son and hearing how his day at school was and how he did on a test he prepared for. It is so important to interact with our children regularly and engage them in meaningful conversation. During the work week I don't always have the time to see or talk with my son so I make it a priority to at least speak to him on the telephone and I ask him about his day at school and I always ask him about his homework and what he had for dinner. I feel so much happier when I have the time to spend with my son and gather together as a family at the dinner table. I feel during these difficult economic times that it is much more stressful on parents and their minds are preoccupied so they don't always give their children the proper attention they deserve.

Children learn a lot from their parents and they gain perspective from them and tend to copy them in how they relate in their daily experiences. Since we have a tremendous influence on our children it is our responsibility to guide them and show our children the ways they should conduct themselves in everyday life. We also have to engage them in conversation and listen to them and let them express themselves and talk about anything that is on their mind. When a child knows they can talk to their parents and can say whatever is on their mind they will feel more comfortable and will be more willing to talk about what is troubling them. It is the best feeling in the world when your child asks you for advice and looks to you for answers. I may not always have the answer to his questions but I will try my best to answer him to the best of my knowledge. My son can ask some difficult questions and he certainly keeps me on my toes.

I sometimes try to test my memory and think back to the days when I was a young child and how I interacted with my parents. I remember my dad working a lot and going to bed early because of his work schedule so I didn't have a great deal of conversation with him during the week. My mother was more involved in helping me with school and sitting with me. I have fond memories of sitting at the dining room table of our first house in Brooklyn, New York and mom would be by my side helping me with my math assignment and she always made sure I understood it and that I completed it properly. For inspiration I think back to those days in relating to my son.

Recollections I have with my dad were when he would drive me to my baseball games and he would speak to me giving me advice and encouraging me to try my best and not to get upset if we lost the game. I also remember when I was a young kid when my dad took me to his job site on a Saturday and introduced me to some of his ironworker friends and colleagues. I was in awe of the job site and talking with these men who were responsible for building the tall skyscrapers and bridges like my dad.

My dad had the opportunity of meeting my son and he was always wonderful with him in accepting him and spending time with him. He loved to talk to my son and help him with his legos and talk about some of his experiences working on the tall skyscrapers which amazed my son and led him to ask his pop many questions about those days which brought a smile to both my dad and my son's face as well as mine.

With an autistic child it is much more difficult to have conversations because they won't freely talk. I have always had to take the lead with my son in our conversations and I am more used to it now but I always wished my son would feel more free to express himself and share his experiences. It seems that autistic children have impairments in social situations and they have a disconnect that makes it more difficult for them to express themselves. In establishing a relationship with an autistic child the parent needs to always treat the child with dignity, compassion, understanding and respect. If the child feels they can trust you they will tend to open up and feel more inclined to share their feelings and talk about them. Raising an autistic child is very demanding and requires a lot of determination, patience and love. If you can provide all these attributes you will tend to have more success in getting through to your child and expanding their world.

My earliest recollection of a conversation I had with my son was when he was just a baby in the crib and it was strictly a one sided conversation but it was spoken from my heart and I will try my best to write it as I said it those many years ago:

"My son, my son I am so very happy to have you and your mommy in my life and I feel so blessed and my heart is overwhelmed with joy. When I first saw you when you were crying after taking your first breath I was in love with you right from the start and my love for your mommy grows and grows. You make my life a joy with your presence and I am so proud to be you daddy. Mommy and daddy love you with all our hearts and we will always stand by your side and teach you the ways of the world and give you an upbringing that is surrounded with love, encouragement, protection, discipline and faith. We will always listen to you and teach you and we are sure you will teach us also and we will always think back to your special day and always smile because you bring such joy to our lives. We are so happy that you are our precious baby boy."


Your daddy

Edward D. Iannielli III

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Sometimes I wonder

I have thought about it many times and have always been mystified by it and then I take a step back and just keep going on wondering but not really knowing why. I guess it's just how things happen or are meant to be. We really don't fully grasp all the happenings and goings on in our life or the lives of others. To me it's like we are on a journey where we start off fully dependent on others, especially our parents and we are taught to be self reliant so we can go out into the world and start a life of our own as our parents and God intended. The average life span for mankind I believe is 75 years which by time measurement seems like a long time but as we live our life and time passes it seems like an instant in time. To me I can say I have been blessed having wonderful parents and sisters growing up. I was on the shy side but managed to have positive and joyful experiences as a child through to my early adulthood with my family.

In pondering how we came in to the world it is truly a miracle that our parents came to meet and by them meeting and starting a life together we were given this wonderful opportunity and gift of life. I feel the same way about meeting my wife and the miraculous birth of our son. It just is such a mystery how things come in to place so we can be born. If my dad never met my mom I would never be born and if I were not born then I would not have met my wife and our son would not be born and that is indeed the mystery and the wonder of life. It is destiny that 2 people come together in this great big world to unite and have a child born. I find it also a mystery how far back we go and trying to trace our ancestry lineage. It seems basic when you think about it but the reality is that tracing back is difficult because we need to rely on birth records. I have had the privilege of meeting my grand parents on both sides of my family and I also was fortunate enough to meet my great grandmother on my father's side. When you think about it we are here because they all met and continued each generation.

Sometimes when I think long and hard about it my mind just can not comprehend it. I am truly grateful for being given life and also elated and joyful for sharing in being blessed with the miracle of life with our son. I also feel sad that there are unborn and I wonder why. It makes you realize there is also the flip side where birth does not occur because of happenings. If you think about it many young people have died and never had an opportunity to meet someone and share in the miracle of life. It just seems like there are powers out there and fate has a hand in whether we come in to the world or not.

To explain life and our purpose to my son is something I take very seriously and I want him to know how truly blessed he is and that he has a true purpose in this life and he comes from a wonderful family who are so proud and happy to share in this miracle of life we experience together as a family. It sometimes seems silly that we get hung up on little inconsequential things that are passing moments when there is such a bigger picture that sometimes we are too busy to understand or see.

As I get older I become more philosophical in my views and thinking's and I also am very appreciative to have family, friends and a means to provide for my family. I must say that I have been fortunate in many ways and although I wonder and ponder the mysteries of life I can truly say I have a wonderful life. For becoming a father is the second best gift I can be given as the first is being born of my mom and dad.

The words I close with which I address to my mom, dad, sisters, wife, son, family, teachers and friends are as follows:

"It is in life I realize how truly lucky and fortunate I am for how my life has been shaped and influenced in such a wonderful way. I also have come to appreciate all that I have and all that I have been given. Therefore I say from the bottom of my heart and with tears in my eyes how grateful I am to have had such wonderful parents who gave me all the love, support and guidance I could ever ask for and wonderful sisters who taught me a thing or 2 about life. My most blessed gift is meeting my wife Maria and sharing in the joy and miracle of our son Matthew's birth. It is my wife and son who give me a reason and purpose and make me so very happy. I am not sure how much time I have left but knowing I have wonderful family and friends gives me the courage and strength to carry on and be grateful for what I have. As I see my son grow it just makes me want to always be there for him helping him and guiding him and showing him the way as I have learned. I want my son to find happiness and joy and to always feel loved, confident, and joyous. I want my son to have a wonderful life."

Edward D. Iannielli III

Monday, April 19, 2010

Life Lessons: Hopes and dreams

As children we are growing, exploring and learning in structured and unstructured settings and we are encouraged to dream and strive for excellence throughout our young lives with the intent of achieving all that we strive for and adopting those same values in our adulthood and continuing to hope and dream. We learn from our parents and our teachers the importance of setting goals and envisioning our hopes and dreams so we will be challenged and have purpose. It is obvious that children see the world differently than adults and their youth and innocence help to educate and guide them and their youth is a time that is very forgiving. It is in our youth that we learn the most and have the highest capacity for learning through our experiences and our mistakes.

As children develop and learn through their experiences it is essential to help build their self esteem and always encourage them and listen to them. Children are very aware of their potential and instinctively know what they can and can not do and will need to effectively communicate this. It is our responsibility to help them in areas where they may struggle so they can make improvement which will provide a boost to their self esteem which is essential for a young child. All children are capable and have the ability to learn and achieve and it may take more time for some but that doesn't mean they should be forgotten. They have just as much a right to learn as does any child. Autistic children generally fall into this area where teachers and parents have to exhibit a great deal more patience and understanding. Autistic children are very intelligent and it is very important that they get the proper educational experience they deserve so they too can achieve and accomplish and hold onto their hopes and dreams.

Due to the rise in Autism it is very important for teachers to be specially trained in dealing with the behavioral and emotional outbursts displayed by autistic students who are not properly integrated in the schools. It is very easy to lose these students and that is not an option. The schools and teachers have to be more dedicated to these autistic students and their difficulties and the parents have to be proactive in their child's education. Teachers are very instrumental in inspiring and educating our young children and our children are very impressionable and eager to learn. It is essential that both teachers and students work together.

It takes courage and heart to strive to be our very best. We are all blessed with the ability to do so. We just have to believe in ourselves and realize that our best may not be the best but if we put forth sincere effort and aspire to our hopes and dreams then that should make us proud regardless of where we place. We have to realize that we should always set our own personal goals and work towards accomplishing them regardless of how we compare to others and we should never get discouraged. In accomplishing one goal at a time we build confidence and we gain experience in making progress and succeeding. As we set goals and accomplish them we are building our self confidence and our self esteem and taking the necessary steps we need to achieve and bring out our best.

The beauty of being young and innocent is that we can dream and hope and believe in ourselves and know that there should be nothing that can stop us from doing what we set out to do. We have all the time on our side that we need and if we dedicate our life to doing good and striving for our best we will come out on top. This is the best advice I can pass on to my son and know that I will always be there to support and guide him so he too can dream and set out to accomplish all he wishes and be the person he is meant to be. My son is autistic and he is a special person who can do anything in life he wishes. I love my son and I with the help of my wife will always nurture him, praise him and provide him with all the encouragement and guidance he deserves as my parents did for me.

Edward D. Iannielli III

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Life Lessons: Coping with loss

There are certain things that happen in our life that are defining moments and life changing events that affect us for the rest of our lives. If I could rewrite the script of certain events in my life I clearly would but I am only a witness to life circumstances and have no control over events or the actions of others. I am a very compassionate and sensitive person and I am trying my best to come to grips with the tragic death of my dad last year, April 16th, 2009. It has been a very long year filled with so many unanswered questions. I am still just trying to accept that my dad is no longer hear to talk to or visit. I really miss my dad's presence as he was the rock of our family and he was such a kind and caring person who was always there to listen and lend his support. I've grown to appreciate my dad over the years and always enjoyed seeing him and just sharing time with him. He was a tremendous influence on us and he was always very supportive and understanding. He really took an interest in our welfare and loved to spend time with us. He particularly enjoyed spending time with Matty and was very encouraging offering him praise and honest good old fashioned grandfatherly advice and he never viewed him as being different at all. He treated him just like all his other grandchildren.

I feel so sad that my dad had become so lonely and isolated in the end despite having family by his side. My dad was never a man of many words. He lived his life with pride, dedication and a tremendous work ethic. He was without a doubt a very well liked person and was very low key and humble. He did so much for others and he was such a driven person. You could see that in how he approached his work, his artistic endeavors and his family life. Dad would spend hours making replica models of construction sites with tower crane and all out of card board, balsa wood, tooth picks and make it so true to scale and realistic in appearance. His true love was military and aviation and he made several models of planes including Lindbergh's Spirit of St Louis which was his prized possession. He also made replica models of aircraft carriers and John F. Kennedy's PT 109. He loved reading about John F Kennedy's wartime experiences and his rescue during WWII involving the doomed PT boat.

Dad was also very compassionate to mom when she was sick and dying in the hospital and he always made sure he was there every night to hold her hand and whisper in her ear how much he loved her. When she died it was very traumatic for my dad and he was never the same after that but he always managed to put on a brave face.

Despite my dad's limited education through the 11th grade he was an avid reader and thoroughly enjoyed reading about WWII and great historians. He was so caught up in the flight of Lindbergh from Roosevelt Field Long Island to Le Bourget Airport, Paris, France abroad the Spirit of St. Louis that he could recite a great deal about the 33 plus hour first successful trans-Atlantic flight. I remember watching the Jimmy Stewart movie portrayal of Charles Lindbergh and that flight with my dad and I have that as a pleasant memory of spending time with my dad. When I saw the video in the mall I had to have it so I could watch it again and remember my dad. It will never be the same though watching it without him.

I feel life is bittersweet because we are blessed with such wonderful things but we are also affected deeply by inevitable loss and that is the sad and inescapable reality. We also have to come to terms with not only the mortality of loved ones but ours as well and that is a bitter pill to swallow because we have so much responsibility towards our family and want everything to be perfect, especially for our children and our loved ones. We live our life as if we are guaranteed another day, another week, another year, another decade and so on. The reality is we live with so much uncertainty but try to be as certain as we possibly can. All I know is that we seem to worry so much in our life and in retrospect it seems like we contribute so much wasted energy in the process that proves no help to us whatsoever. So why do we get all caught up and worry when we should look at the bigger picture? That is something we all have to discover in our own lives and learn as best as we can to properly deal with.

The day I learned of my father's unexpected death I was beside myself. I could not imagine the pain and suffering he must have been feeling to ultimately decide to end his life that day. It pains me terribly and I wished I could have been there to help him through his pain. The sad reality is that we all became so caught up in our own lives that we did not stop to think of the feelings dad was experiencing. I only wished I did not burden my dad as much as I did. My dad was always there for us but I feel I leaned on him more than maybe I should have. He was my dad and I always looked up to him and I still look up to him. If only I could have changed the outcome of that fateful day. That is something I will have to try to live with for the rest of my life. I was not there in my dad's most fragile time of need. I am feeling very sad about it and no matter how much I try to put it out of my mind I feel I should have listened to him more than sharing my personal concerns and worries with him though he wanted to help. My dad seemed to take on the weight of the world and it became to much for him in his advancing years. I have cried many times about the tragedy wishing it never had to happen and it will take a long time to come to terms with it. The hardest part is reaching for the phone to call my dad or drive to his former apartment suddenly realizing he is not there anymore and never will.

I have a son who has said many times that Pop is still alive and he never doubts that. I feel my son really loves Pop and does not accept that he is gone. He wants things to be as they were and that is one of the hardest realities of autism. Children on the spectrum have difficulty coping with change and family loss and that weighs heavily on me because I need to be there for my son and be strong for him and provide him with a secure and comfortable life free of worry and during these times it seems so much harder to do so and there seems to be too much uncertainty today. It seems life is becoming harder and harder and much more stressful.

In dealing with my dad's loss I have started writing more to help address my feelings and write them in a constructive forum and be truthful honest and respectful in expressing my feelings and emotions. It helps and it is something I feel I should do because I am also focusing on my son and autism and trying to help guide him properly in his young life. I wished I could guarantee my son happiness and comfort throughout the years and I find that I can only take one day at a time right now and always strive to help myself through the difficult moments.

My main focus is my family and especially my son who needs guidance, love and nurturing as he slowly approaches his teenage years which can be a stressful time. I need to set a good example for him and to be supportive, loving and compassionate towards him like my parents were with me.

I honor my father and am very proud of him and wish to thank him for all he has taught me about life. I miss him terribly and hopefully will reunite with him and mom and all our family who have passed on through the years. May God always look over my parents and our family.


Edward D. Iannielli III

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Life Lessons: Memories of my dad

I am blessed with family and friends and I am proud to be a father of a special boy who inspires me every day and gives me true perspective of life's most important commitments. I have learned how to be a loving and caring father from someone who showed me by his actions and his words through the years when I was a child and during my adult years as well. Actually both my mom and dad gave me the support and love I needed to help me take on the challenges and joys of fatherhood. My mom taught me to be sensitive and receptive to others and to always consider their needs and feelings. She taught me how to be a man with a soft side. My father taught me how to be responsible and hardworking and to meet each challenge with confidence, clear thought and focus. I learned to be humble and to be respectful and to meet life's challenges with true effort, with confidence and with pride.

I have boyhood memories of my dad which still surface and brings me back to a day when things were much simpler and worry free from my perspective as a child. Despite my dad's dangerous line of work as an ironworker and my mom's concern for his safety I felt pretty safe and protected. Sure I thought about my dad at work and worried for his safety but I felt he always prepared himself and knew his work and the dangers and he would always be protected. My dad was very committed to his family and his work and he balanced both as best he could. The demands of his job meant he had to be in bed early and awake early so during the week he was so busy that we really did not get to talk or do things. The weekends were our time to do things together and dad made himself available then. We would occasionally go to the movies. The first movie we saw as a family in the theater was Mary Poppins which was fun and when I see it today it brings me back to the days when I was a young kid seeing it for the first time with my mom, dad and 2 sisters.

I still have fond memories of throwing the baseball with my dad and him driving me to my little league baseball games. Time seems to play tricks on me because I can still vividly picture wearing my baseball uniform and listening to encouraging words from my dad and it seems like only yesterday. He was very happy to see I had interest in playing and when he wasn't umpiring a game he would sit in the bleachers and occasionally my mom and my 2 sisters would be there also cheering me and our team on. I played for 2 teams during my little league days. The Indians and the Dodgers. I loved playing and being part of the action. I developed confidence in playing and was helped and encouraged by a neighbor who seemed to take an interest in my development. Those were great times and I enjoyed them very much and I feel very happy thinking back to those days and driving with my dad listening to the radio as I prepared myself mentally for the game and listened to my dad's advice.

As I approached my teenage years dealing with my internal needs and becoming a young man I turned to my dad for advice and spoke about the things on my mind. I remember when I started noticing the girls my mind was on overdrive with many questions and I wasn't really sure how to approach the subject with my dad. Sometimes I deferred to my mom on occasion and talking about girls became more a conversation I would speak with my mom about. My dad would tell me to always respect the girls and treat them nice and he would always encourage me by saying "there is a girl out there for you only you just haven't met her yet." I remember that clear as day.

I remember the holidays and going to mass for Christmas and Easter as a family and seeing both mom and dad and my sisters nicely dressed. Mom always made sure I wore a nice suit and tie for the occasion. Mom also dressed my sisters nicely as she made sure they wore cute dresses and tights with their maryjane shoes. People from our neighborhood in Brooklyn would always say what a nice family we were.

When I think back to these days I tear up because my parents are both gone now and I miss them both very much. Life is a wonderful gift and we experience so many things and we feel so many different emotions both happy and sad. We realize as we lose people close to us that we all must acknowledge that our time shall come to. As a father I am well aware of this and that is why I feel it is so very important to put things in place for my son so he will be protected and provided for when I must face that day with God. I draw strength from my parents and I have fond memories of both.

April 16th will be a very difficult day for me and my family because it represents the 1 year anniversary of my father's death where we lost him unexpectedly and suddenly as he succumbed to his depression and lost his way. He was such a compassionate, loving, hardworking and very devoted family man. When he lost his wife so many years before he seemingly lost a part of himself. He devoted himself to us and to all his grandchildren and for that we are very grateful.

Dad, We love and miss you very much and we pray for your peace and happiness and pray for you and mom who are now together eternally in peace with the rest of your families and the angels in heaven.

Thank you both for all you have done for us!


Edward D. Iannielli III

Monday, April 12, 2010

Life Lessons: It's ok to cry

I have learned many things in my life and I am still learning each and every day raising an autistic child. It is very important that we always stay true to ourselves and our children and express ourselves without hesitation or fear of ridicule. I have at times felt uncomfortable in talking and sharing difficult moments in my life with others and the only way I could help get through the sad and difficult experiences was to distance myself from others, reflect upon my life and the happy and pleasant times I share with my family and friends, take a walk or drive listening to music forgetting for the moment the things troubling me and the most important thing which is finding release from the hurt and pain I feel through crying. I was never ashamed to cry when my pain was too great to bear. I feel we must shed tears when we lose a loved one or go through trying times. I am a private person and I usually confide only in a few people I consider friends who I can trust.

I feel when we suffer a loss it takes time to heal and awhile to get back to some semblance of normalcy. I know the feelings we experience and the pain we feel when we lose someone very close to us and the pain sometimes seems to never really go away. Over the years it seems to diminish but it is always there and we just have to try to deal with it as best we can. No one said it would be easy but we all have to experience sorrow and try to understand perspective, reality and the sad part of life.

I believe as we get older and we experience life's joys and sorrows we become more introspective, philosophical and aware of our life's meaning and purpose realizing our own mortality is inevitable. The overriding feeling of being there for our children becomes the uppermost priority in our life. We can not let our emotions get the best of us where we start to feel down and depressed. Depression is not something to take lightly. If someone feels depressed they need to seek medical attention and talk to a medical doctor to help get through it. Sometimes depression will drain you and take away your drive and ambition so it is important that proper treatment is sought to help with the heightened anxiety and feelings of helplessness.

I have cried both tears of joy and sadness in my life and to me it is ok to express these emotions through tears as it helps us through the moment and teaches us about who we are and that we are human with feelings and emotions. If we keep our feelings inside it will potentially cause problems later on as it is not recommended to repress or bury our emotions or feelings. I prefer tears of joy for those are for happy occasions such as my wedding with my beautiful bride Maria and the day Maria gave birth to our beautiful son Matthew on December 8th 1998. My tears of sadness are for the sad reality of losing my parents. My mom on March 23rd, 1990 and my dad on April 16th, 2009. These days are very sad realities for me and each year that passes brings back the pain and sadness and reality of their loss.

I also express tears for my son and his condition. At times it can be very frustrating dealing with autism and epilepsy and experiencing the inevitable difficulties my son encounters of having meltdowns and seizures and behavioral difficulties. I will never forget the day my wife and I were at the hospital with him when the medical team administered anesthesia to help him sleep during the MRI. As we sat outside of the scanning MRI machine all we could do was watch our son who displayed such courage sleep as the machine made such loud noises as it scanned his brain. We were both concerned for him hoping that everything would be ok. After the readings were completed and Matthew was removed from the MRI scanner he was placed in the recovery area to awaken from the medicine. As he awoke from his sleep I was overjoyed and had tears in my eyes happy to see him come out of it and hearing him say he was hungry. We promised him we would take him to his favorite place to eat which is Friendly's on the way home and he was delighted and so were we.

In life we will encounter both joy and sadness and on occasion we will shed tears and we should never feel ashamed or repress the tears as that is what makes us human with feelings and when we are in touch with our feelings we will truly feel better and deal more effectively with life's situations. It's ok to cry for that is how we deal with our joy and our sorrow.

Edward D. Iannielli III

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Life Lessons: Simple pleasures

When I look back on my life and I see it from 2 perspectives, one as a child and the other as an adult I realize the things that brought a smile to my face and joy in my heart were the simple things I remember as a little boy. As an adult when I look back on that time I think back to those very special moments and I hold on to them and cherish them. The child I was is still there and I feel special to remember back to that time in my life as it was a wonderful time filled with youth, innocence, love and happiness. That little boy I was who learned about life and responsibility from my parents is now a man who has a sensitive side and is truly a compassionate and concerned husband and father. I admit I am far from perfect but my intentions have always been good and I have always been sincere in all the things I've done and all the things I attempt to do.

As an adult the defining moment that changed my life forever and touched my heart and gave me a reason to smile was the wonderful miracle of our son's birth. God blessed Maria and I with our special son Matthew and from that special day our life together has been a wonderful journey of discovery. My main emphasis in my life has always been our son. I have learned that we must always protect and teach our children so they will learn the special meaning of life and also cherish it. We are given life and we are living as God planned with uncertainty but with pure wonder and joy. We should always appreciate our life and never lose sight of all the truly wonderful and special things that we encounter each day.

As I wake each day the one thing I always enjoy are the sounds of nature. The sounds of birds chirping in the trees is such a beautiful part of nature and it is one of life's simple pleasures. I have grown to appreciate a day off so I can spend it with my son and one thing I love to do with him is take a ride to the beach and walk along the shore line and watch him build sand castles. This is one of life's simple pleasures. Another thing I love to do with my son is ask him to pick out a movie he'd like to see and spend the day out with him seeing his movie of choice and having pizza. These seemingly simple things are special moments that are wonderful times and if we freeze the images in our mind we will have lasting memories. Each of these moments frozen in time is our way of taking in the joy and special times and remembering them for our lifetime.

Listening to a song on the radio that I had not heard since childhood that brings me back to the day I was a little boy and remembering how much my mom loved it is one of life's simple pleasures. Going to a baseball game with my wife and son to cheer on our team and snack on hot dogs, crackerjacks, ice cream and soda is one of life's simple pleasures. Looking at a family photo album when I was a baby and pointing this out to my wife and son is one of life's simple pleasures. Seeing my son bring home a test with a perfect grade is one of life's simple pleasures. Hearing my son read a story from his book and pronouncing all the words properly is one of life's simple pleasures. Taking a family vacation out of state and starting our trip making sure we have everything right before we go is one of life's simple pleasures. Having a 3 day weekend is one of life's simple pleasures. Catching a baseball at a major league baseball game in the crowd is one of life's simple pleasures. Getting your refund check in the mail is one of life's simple pleasures. Watching the snow fall at night when everyone is asleep from your doorway knowing we are expecting a blizzard is one of life's simple pleasures. Finally reaching the last page in a book that you read cover to cover enjoying the experience is one of life's simple pleasures. Seeing the sunset at the beach with your wife and son is one of life's simple pleasures. Finding that pretty outfit at the mall you like is one of life's simple pleasures. Having a hot fudge sundae at your favorite ice cream shoppe is one of life's simple pleasures. Opening up your presents on Christmas day is one of life's simple pleasures. Being licked by a dog and making a new friend is one of life's simple pleasures. Being kissed by a cute girl is one of life's simple pleasures. Hearing your child's first words is one of life's simple pleasures. Seeing your child walk for the first time is one of life's simple pleasures. Watching the flowers bloom in the springtime is one of life's simple pleasures. Having a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is one of life's simple pleasures. Driving a new car is one of life's simple pleasures. Remembering having a catch with my dad is one of life's simple pleasures. Remembering going to a Met game with my mom as a kid is one of life's simple pleasures. Having a catch with my son is one of life's simple pleasures. Going trick or treating with my son is one of life's simple pleasures. seeing all the cute kids in their Halloween costumes and hearing their thank you's as I give them candies is one of life's simple pleasures.

The excitement of all these simple pleasures is what makes our life fun and enjoyable and when we learn to appreciate these simple things we will realize that our life is special and we are truly blessed and should always hold on to these special moments to help us through the sad times we encounter.

I will always make sure my son has many of these special moments that will help him grow and develop and experience joy and excitement for that is what kids should always have in their lives; Joy, wonder and happiness from the simple things in life.

Edward D. Iannielli III

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Life Lessons: Inspired by teachers

Most everyone you ask will admit to having doubt and questioning themselves in situations which is a normal part of life. As a student in school I certainly had my fair share of butterflies before I was to sit for an exam. No matter how hard I studied or prepared I would still have a nervous anxiety which helped me in some strange way because it made me always prepare ahead of time. I never went into an exam cold. I always made sure I was prepared and would do whatever it took by studying attentively and being disciplined in always doing my homework. My favorite subject as a student in school was mathematics and I enjoyed learning and solving the problems. I will never forget my ninth grade algebra class which was my most favorite class for two reasons. The two reasons were because I loved solving word problems with algebraic formulas and because I had a crush on my teacher, Ms. Mixon who was a great teacher and a pretty woman. She never knew I had a crush on her but I did and she inspired me to try real hard and do my best. I was an A student in her class and I got almost a perfect score on the regents exam scoring a 98 out of 100. I remember even getting nervous taking her exams because she modeled them as if we were taking a regents exam. I had her class second period and I had gym class first period and after all these years that have gone by I still remember running around the track visualizing algebraic formulas in my head as I was thinking about her exam I was about to take. In retrospect I realize I had a lot of nervous energy that always kept me grounded and humble.

Another teacher that inspired me was my seventh grade art teacher Mr. Cristofel. In his class I learned a lot about artists and different forms of art expression. Although I didn't have a natural ability in Art class I always tried my best and respected my teacher's opinion and his advice. He seemed to take a liking to me and always encouraged me to try my best and I felt good when he complimented my work and had it posted in the display case in the school hallway with other students artwork. I remember one of my drawings was a cubism depiction of baseball objects including a bat, mitt and a baseball. In his class I remember we learned about different artists and their paintings and one of my favorite's was Christina's World by the popular artist Andrew Wyeth.

I was a very impressionable kid during my school days and very shy. I felt overall that I was respected by my teachers and fellow students and considered a good kid. My days in school were pretty uneventful as I was a typical student. My mother always made sure I completed all my assignments and that I always prepared for my exams. I was encouraged by my teachers from day one when I was fortunate to have a very kind and caring kindergarten teacher and assistant teacher. Their names were Mrs Blackbear and Mrs Rubin and they with the help of my mom encouraged me with learning the basics of mathematics and their unrelentless patience really made a difference for me. I owe them a big hug for all they did for me which certainly affected my relationship with school and my desire to learn and do my best.

Another teacher that I liked and learned about Shakespeare and the classics was my seventh grade English teacher Miss Feintuch who was a very sweet woman and a very dedicated teacher. She always made her class exciting and reading the classics very interesting. She helped me with writing and helped to spark my interest in expression through the written word.

As an adult I find it refreshing that I can think back to my early school days and remember some of my experiences as if it was yesterday. I really owe a lot to my parents and my teachers for helping guide me and teach me about academics and in turn about life.

My son is learning about mathematics, science, history, art, music and consumer science in school as he is a fifth grader and I always remind him that he needs to always respect his teachers, listen to them and always complete his homework assignments and take his exams seriously. Maria works with him during the week making sure he is always completing and understanding his homework and when I have the chance I spend time with him with his math assignments. I always emphasize to him how important it is to be respectful and to always strive to do his best. He does have times where school seems overwhelming to him but with guidance and support from us and his teachers we are hoping we can bridge the gap so he can have a positive learning experience and succeed in the class room.

One teacher I learned a great deal about heart and putting it all on the line was actually a coach who taught mathematics. I never had him as a teacher in the class room but he was my cross country coach in high school and he taught me a lot about believing in myself and working hard to accomplish goals. He had me believe I could train to run 3 mile races and he was right. We had tough training workouts but I learned a lot from him and the training and I became very dedicated and focused. He instilled in me the desire to try my best and to believe in myself and I owe him a lot for his wisdom and his encouragement. He was very helpful to me and he gave me a wonderful opportunity when he recruited me for his team. His name is Al Berkowsky and I was very fortunate our paths crossed.

School was a great experience for me although I was shy and never had the opportunity of going to the prom. I learned a lot and was grateful for all my teachers as I always had a good teacher in all my years in school. I was very fortunate. Now my concern focuses to my son and his schooling and we are blessed that he has very kind, caring and understanding teachers. They have a lot of patience with my son because of his autism and his behavior concerns. We are hoping as the years go by and he becomes more mature he will be able to find his niche and everything will come together for him because he is truly a wonderful kid and despite his difficulties he is a very bright young kid and he is a wonderful little boy who is the main focus of my life. When he has a bad day I also have a bad day. I want us both to always have equally good days for now on.

Matthew, If I could give you some words of advice I would say the following to you:
"Never let criticism hurt you, Always take it in a positive way so you will learn and grow from it. You have wonderful God given abilities and although you have some struggles you are not alone and you should never feel alone. Take it for what it is and make it work for you in a positive way. If you can turn a negative into a positive you will be way ahead of the game. Have faith and courage and trust in your abilities and always respect others and learn from them. Life is about learning, growing and experiencing and trusting in others and in yourself." "May you always find joy in your life and always hold on to love in your heart for you are a child of God and you are very special and you deserve to find happiness in life."

With Love always,

Your Dad,

Edward D. Iannielli III

Friday, April 9, 2010

Life Lessons: Prioritizing our lives

Having a young son who is approaching his teenage years and requiring more individualized attention due to his medical condition makes me realize how important it is to find more time in my life so I can share it with him. After all my life is much more enjoyable and richer because of my son and I find it ironic that I am spending less time with him in these important years. I realize I have to make a living so I can provide for my family and work is a necessity and I have to provide my employer with my best effort and be dedicated and be willing to work late so I can complete my workload and learn what is expected of me. I have learned that our lives revolve around our work responsibilities, our family responsibilities, our social obligations and our own personal agenda. We need to realize that we will have to get accustomed to hard work and we must have a lot of patience, understanding and a healthy outlook.

I know that I am just like anyone else working and raising a family and I also have many responsibilities so I must learn how to organize and prioritize my life so I can be efficient at work and do what is expected of me in a reasonable period of time in the work day and the work week. I also need to spend the appropriate amount of time with my son during the week and on the weekends. My son also has his responsibilities with school, with his homework and with making sure he is completing his assignments at school and at home. He also has to be responsible with his chores at home too. When we are together life becomes much more happier and I always wish to get as much quality time with my son that will help him and make an impact for the both of us. I have learned a lot from my experiences in life and in spending time with my son and of course from my parents when I was a kid. I also learned how important it is to spend time with my son every time I hear the late Harry Chapin song "The cat's in the cradle" which really has a powerful message and touches your heart and scares you because of the sense of loss you feel in not being able to get that valuable time spent with your son back when you realize the time has gone by and your son is a young man with his own work and family responsibilities now.

As a young boy growing up my dad and I did not engage much in conversation but we still had a bond when we had a baseball catch which I always enjoyed. In fact throwing the baseball with my dad is one of my most favorite memories. I always wanted to have a father-son catch with Matty but he does not show interest and he does not have the necessary hand-eye coordination at this point. The sad part is that I always looked forward to having a catch with my son as that is a great bonding experience but I do not want to force my son into doing something he has no interest in. If in time he does wish to have a catch then I would ease him into it and would teach him the proper mechanics and techniques.

As I am now middle age I feel that my life is changing and I can now sense what it was like for my parents as my sisters and I were getting older and they were approaching middle age. As we get older we start to think more about the future and of our lives and we seem to try to put things into perspective and realize the important things in life which are certainly our family and our commitments. We must find that healthy balance so we don't fall short and hurt the ones we love. The sad part of life is that it seems to be fleeting in the sense that when we are living it the years seem to drag on but when we look back on it we then realize the years have gone by so quickly. It is truly mystifying how quickly we age and how quickly our children grow up and start lives of their own.

I was fortunate to have my dad in my life through my adult years and he was always there for me and it was difficult for him at times because mom died so many years earlier and dad was alone but he seemed ok since he was with us and our kids most of the time. He loved spending time with his grandchildren as they brought such joy to him and they loved their grandpa. Life seems so unfair sometimes when I see how hard my dad worked and when he lost his wife a part of his life was taken away and he was never the same but managed to live his life until he could no longer go on. He had his share of times where he needed medical support and was hospitalized for depression and for physical ailments. His life was one of which he should be very proud but it was also a tough life and it took its toll on him affecting him in how he viewed things. He was very humble and very stoic and he had a strong drive and was firmly committed to his family. As we are approaching the anniversary of his unexpected and sudden death it hurts and brings a tear to my eyes because I am wondering how we could have helped him to prevent the tragedy. I still have no answers today as I had no answers a year ago when we first learned of his unfortunate and shocking death. All I can derive from the tragedy is that my dad was getting to a point in his life where his loneliness and his suffering was becoming to great and though he loved his family and all his grandchildren he was tired and in great pain and he could no longer take on the pain he was feeling despite the love he gave and the love he knew. It makes me very sad for my dad because I knew he was a great man and I feel he deserved a better ending.

I will certainly make sure I always honor the memories of my mom and dad and I will do all I can for my wife and son and always be there for my family and take on all my responsibilities and challenges with maturity, dedication and willingness and balance all so I can have a full and devoted life that will enable me to help my son as he approaches manhood and starts a life of his own and to share the remaining years with my wife and watching our son grow and become his own person.

Edward D. Iannielli III

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Life Lessons: Random acts of kindness

The qualities I learned as a young boy from my parents were to behave, be polite, listen attentively and always be respectful and kind to others. Kindness is a trait that shows the best part of human nature. I always enjoyed the feeling of being accepted by others and being treated nicely and with respect. Children learn very early in school that they need to cooperate and act in a proper way and to learn to share and be kind with one another. You learn that you should treat others the way you wish to be treated. I remember my parents were always kind to my sisters and I and they always made us feel special.

When I became a dad I knew I had a tremendous responsibility to my son and I knew I would have to teach him the very important lessons in life and show him how to conduct himself and to always live his life being wise to the ways of the world and to always show his good side and find it within himself to always be kind and sincere to his teachers, his classmates, his friends and his family and to always exercise proper judgement in all that he does.

To me the world is a tough place and we all have to have coping skills to survive and we need to bring out the best in ourselves and always work to achieve and strive to do our absolute best. If we wish to find some joy in this world we need to experience random acts of kindness so we can feel that we are not always alone and that people do care. It seems we sometimes have this mentality that it is us as individuals and we are all alone and have to be strong and totally rely on ourselves to make it. If we reach out to others and show kindness we certainly will receive it in return and we will feel the world can be a better place.

If we always feel alone we will most certainly feel overwhelmed at times and may experience times of frustration and discouragement and may wind up not doing as well as we have the potential to. If we feel we are supported and have a common goal with camaraderie, friendship, encouragement and kindness we certainly will feel an edge that will certainly make a difference in how we perceive things and how we perform.

Life is too short to feel we have to go it alone. We need a support base and friends to bring out our best and we all need to realize that this world would be a far better place if we all displayed random acts of kindness to one another.

Edward D. Iannielli III

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Life Lessons: Acts of heroism

We can't help but notice those stories that touch us and make us feel good when we hear about them. It is a pleasure hearing those stories of courage, unselfishness and acts of heroism displayed by ordinary people who do extraordinary things. It seems that we are always seeing sad and tragic things in the news on a regular basis so it is refreshing and a testament to human nature when we hear of someone putting their life in peril to help out a fellow human being without thinking twice about it. I was touched by a story where a man without hesitation jumped into the cold waters at the South Street Seaport from the deck of a boat to rescue a 2 year old girl who had fallen more than 20 feet from the gangplank into the icy waters. Her father also jumped in to save his baby girl.

The man who first jumped in pulled her from the waters where she surely would have drowned and helped place her in her father's arms safe from the cold and dirty waters. Hearing this makes you appreciate the best side of human nature where people do care and will do their absolute best to help someone in need. The man who saved the baby girl's life did not seek accolades or reward as he seemed to disappear during all the commotion once he placed the baby girl safely in her father's arms. When news stations learned about this mystery hero they put the word out to try to find and establish his identity and acknowledge him for his brave and wonderful act of courage in saving the precious little baby girl's life.

If I was thrust into a situation where I would have to react quickly it's hard to say how I would respond but I feel in my heart I would do all I could to help as I would expect someone to help if I or a family member needed help. I have faith in human nature and feel most people would lend a helping hand. I always have concern for my son who is autistic and suffers from epilepsy and I am always concerned for his safety when I am not with him and I put my faith in others to help him if he was having a seizure.

It is a very scary thing to witness and you have to react quickly and always look to protect the child who is having an epileptic seizure. I have seen my son's seizures and each one is difficult to watch and my main concern is that he is protected from hitting his head and that he comes safely out of the seizure. Seizures tend to run from a few seconds to possibly minutes and the longer a seizure runs the more dangerous it is to the child experiencing it. You need to do all you can to bring the child out of the seizure. My son has slept them off and it does take a lot out of him as he certainly needs to rest after experiencing one.

I am very proud of my nephew who is a Marine serving his country and seeking to do his part. I remember when he first told us he was enlisting with his best friend we were concerned and we trusted his decision as well as his friend's. It was nice that the 2 boys were going to boot camp together and it was a defining moment for both as they were becoming young men serving their country with pride. When they graduated boot camp we were so proud of them both and we were concerned but put trust in them. As they both left for their assignments which took them to different locations no one expected what would happen within a year after their graduation.

We knew they may always be put in harm's way but no one expected that my nephew's best friend and fellow Marine, Lance Cpl. Libardo Anthony Jimenez would die tragically on the base in a boxing exhibition match. He was only 21 years old and was rushed to the base hospital after suffering a blow to the head. He never regained consciousness and died 2 days later. His act of human kindness was something he did at the tender age of 19 years old when he volunteered to be an organ donor by signing the back of his license. In his tragic death his family honored his request to donate his major organs to save the lives of others. His death helped give life to seven people who became recipients of his major organs. It is difficult losing someone so young but seeing the gift he willingly gave to others makes you realize how much of a hero he was and how he was so unselfish and did the ultimate. It brings a tear to my eyes knowing he was such a great friend to my nephew and grieving the loss and realizing the tragic circumstances of his death. My heart goes out to his family and his friends and to my nephew who is hurting over his best friend's death.

Hero's come in all sizes and most don't even consider themselves any different or special at all. They believe that their actions are just typical normal reactions in the moment and feel that they had no other choice. They feel they just happened to be put in that situation and they reacted accordingly. Most people who perform heroic actions just do it in the normal course of a day's work and wish to remain anonymous. It is the people who put their lives on the line every day who are the true heroes and we should never forget.

I view the fireman and rescue workers who put their lives in danger at any moment of the day to save others the real heroes and I view the men and women who perished and those who survived and who put their lives on the line that day on September 11th the real heroes of our generation.

I also acknowledge my dad as a hero as he put his life on the line every day when he was on the job and he took such pride in helping build the bridges, high rises, hospitals and schools. My dad is my hero and so is my mom!

Edward D. Iannielli III

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Life Lessons: The promises we make

I have learned in life that we are here to make some kind of contribution and hopefully make the world a little bit brighter. We experience so much in our lives if we are fortunate to live full lives and share our hopes, dreams, wishes, joys and heartbreaks with someone special to us. If we are blessed to meet and marry and raise a family we are forever making promises we hope to keep. I have always been sincere in what it is I wish to do in my life and the promise I made to my parents was that I would try to do my best in all I attempt and that I would always appreciate every little thing and that I would come to love and respect all people I meet because my parents taught me that it is an honorable person who recognises the good in everyone.

When I married I made a promise to my wife that I would always be faithful and loyal and would always love and cherish her and be very appreciative for what I have and know that I am very lucky to have a lovely bride and son who mean the world to me. I also promised my wife that I will always stand by her side and I would be as strong as I possibly can and be a good influence on our son and teach him how to become a man.

I have been so captivated with my son since his birth and I remember vividly that special day when I first saw him and held him in my arms. I always hold on to that special feeling in my heart of knowing that my life would center around my wife and son and that our son would always know he is loved and that he will always be protected and nurtured. We as parents always make a firm promise and commitment to our children that they will always be the centerpiece in our life and no matter how difficult things may seem that the gentle smile and innocence our children show us is our reward and to me that is the best gift I could ever have. My promise to my son is to always stand by his side and to encourage him and to help him when he feels down or unsure. Children are supposed to know only happy things and we always need to protect them from the difficult realities. We need to slowly introduce them to the sad things in life so as to teach them but we also need to use proper judgement and know how to gauge our child's state of mind. I am learning everyday and realize my son is very sensitive so I need to know how to explain and teach him important life lessons.

The promise I make to my employer and people I work with is that I will always respect them and always be responsible and perform my job with professionalism, sincerity and integrity. I will treat my employer and my clients all the same with dignity, class and always put forth my best effort.

The promise I make to my family is that I will always be there for them and I will always be loyal, loving and so very appreciative to have them in my life.

The promise I make to mankind is that I will always appreciate extending my friendship and try my best to help the less fortunate and always be respectful and treat everyone with dignity and compassion.

The promise I make to God is that I will live a life dedicated to Christ's teachings and that I will live knowing that I have been given an extraordinary gift of life and I should always make the most of it, be very appreciative and reach out to others with sincerity and hope and always have faith and be responsible and devoted to my family and friends.

In closing the biggest promise I make is one to myself that I will try my best to fulfill all my hopes, dreams and wishes and I will try to be the best person I can be so I can love my wife and son with all my heart and teach my son about life and help guide him and teach him the ways of life so he can go out into the world growing from young boy to a kind and compassionate man and live a rich and fulfilling life full of promise, joy and happiness.

Edward D. Iannielli III

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Life Lessons: A father and son's bond and life's harsh realities

From my own personal experiences in growing up I know we are influenced by our upbringing which plays a big part in our development and how we see the world. I also know that the experiences we encounter along the way also plays a big part in defining us as individuals. It is therefore extremely important that we as parents provide our children with love, respect, encouragement, conversation and a bond that is consistent, sincere and comes from within our heart and soul keeping us together in each others lives for as long as God permits. I know I had a wonderful relationship with both my parents as a kid and though at times I felt alone I always knew I had the support of both my mom and dad and I felt safe and protected even though they struggled at times with job insecurity and uncertainty.

For me I feel it is an absolute joy and privilege in raising a son and it is the most important responsibility in my life. I know in my heart that I wish to provide my son with all the love,support,nurturing and financial security that I can as a father. My wife also is very active in his day to day needs and is with him more than I so he is aware how much we are here for him and wish to provide our very best. I am also aware of my son's condition and that it is sometimes more difficult in establishing a relationship and getting on his level. It takes years to learn and adapt and get through to your child so it is vital that as a parent you never lose hope or express frustration or hopelessness. Establishing a relationship with your child also requires give and take and a whole lot of patience.

The love is always there and the good intentions as well. The element of time is the most fundamental commodity that we never seem to have enough of and I am always struggling with providing my son all the time I can with him. It seems at times life can be a struggle with anxiety and worry because it is absolutely essential that we work so we can maintain what we have. Our lifestyle is average and modest at best because it is so very expensive to live today and everything we have we have to work hard to keep. This seems to take a hold on your life and seemingly slowly saps the joy in life away. I am very committed to my son and family and wish to provide the very best I can and sometimes it can be frustrating when it seems like you can not always be there due to life's other responsibilities.

I have grown to realize that there seems to be such a divide in life where there are the affluent who live in luxury and on the flip side there are so many people who are barely getting by and are doing all they can and so many others who are truly suffering and living in poverty. It absolutely breaks my heart when I see such pain and suffering of children going without food and knowing that homelessness is growing at an alarming rate. It seems we are powerless over this and preoccupied with trying to provide the best we can for our family. I try to teach my son the importance of having patience, working to do his best, never giving up, always trying to smile and being responsible. I also shield him from our insecurities like my parents did. Our kids certainly have to learn the ways of the world at an earlier age then we did and when your child is also dealing with autism then it seems that we have to really focus our efforts and attention in acclimating him to the ways of life.

Sometimes we have to take a step back and do something simple that involves our child and leave our worries behind so we can give our child our absolute undivided attention and support them and listen to them. We can never lose sight of this because it is our children we are entrusting the future to and we have to make sure they are prepared.

I want my son to grow into manhood with confidence, joy, love, happiness and internal strength and I also will need to help prepare him for the inevitable things we all have to face including the heartbreaks we will encounter as time goes by. I wish I could guarantee my son that we will be here always and see him grow and accomplish and establish his own relationships.

Knowing this makes it all so important to make the time for my son and to bond with him and be the calming influence and source of guidance and support in his life. I will always do this for as long as we all shall live.

Edward D. Iannielli III