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 As I realized his diagnosis was for real I became withdrawn and pondered why our son had to endure this and why we had to pretty much become resigned to this sad reality.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