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Words, Inspiration and Love
A Father's Tears
As I sit and think about what I will write and share with the readers in my writings I am always trying my best to draw upon my personal experiences in raising my son and sharing what it is like to be affected by autism. Sometimes I feel like expressing the inner pain and frustration I feel when I have a difficult day in reaching my son and on other occasions I wish to share the excitement and joy I feel in connecting with my son and I feel the need to share this exuberance with the readers and the world as I feel hopeful and elated that we both had a great day.
As I have learned with raising an autistic child no two days are alike. It is a very unpredictable existence raising an autistic child and it seems we as parents are trying our best to make their world a safe and trusting place. I don't have the answers and I don't pretend to either. What I do try to do is to establish a healthy and meaningful dialog with my son to help him in talking, expressing himself, thinking, sharing, opening up, communicating, and expanding his interests.
I can spend hours talking to my son about all different topics. I focus on his interests and we have had wonderful conversations on music, writing, making videos, driving places, childhood, movies, tv shows, cartoons, school, family vacations, holidays, cars, the solar system and the future changes in computers and technology.
Once I get my son interested in a topic he can literally do his research and within an hour be proficient enough to discuss what he has learned and it makes him feel good to learn and remember. He also speaks about what he has already learned and seems quite knowledgeable. He knows about the early history of our country and the 13 colonies. He knows about Christopher Columbus and his three ships that sailed the ocean blue. He knows the first 10 presidents of the United States and the presidents who served from Eisenhower on in the more recent administrations. He knows the planets in the solar system. He knows what a warm front and a cold front are in meteorological terms. He also remembers scenes and dialog in movies and remembers the total number of pages in Dr Seuss story books like the Cat in the Hat and the words on each page as he recites the story after reading it a couple of times.
It truly amazes me how much of a photographic memory my son has which I am reminded of regularly when I hear him recite the words from a favorite movie or story book of his in its complete context word for word. When I hear him recite the lines with such full command and I realize how he finds such joy in doing so it makes me very happy and I am very impressed. He certainly can captivate an audience as he has when we eat at restaurants and other patrons hear him and realize that he is quoting lines to movies they have seen. It really attracts attention and it makes me tear up a little bit when I see how comfortable and happy he is. I believe he would be wonderful at remembering lines in a play or a movie due to his unique ability of remembering the words and lines. Maybe he'll be an actor or a singer!
My son also knows Pi expanded out to 10 digits beyond the decimal. I was watching a show on autistic savants and it amazes me how some asperger children and young adults can recite pi to over 100 or more digits beyond 3.14. They also have the amazing ability to multiply large numbers together and be as exact as a calculator or they can look at several images and recall them to discuss in the exact order they saw them or draw them as near to perfection as humanly possible like a camera recreation.
When I talk to my son and I see him respond with such intellect and such command I can't help but feel proud and also shed a tear because I know how difficult my son has it with dealing with his emotions and with sensory overload. He is affected by all the outside stimuli that sometimes it can be overwhelming to him and he just can not keep it together and succumbs to his emotions and shuts down. It can be very alarming and his behavior can be unpredictable. This is the time when you are truly tested and have to really dig deep to allay your child's fears and anxieties and calm them down. It can be very difficult going through this and seeing your child struggle but you have to keep it together for the sake of your child.
My take on getting emotional about my son to the point of crying is a good thing. I love my son very much and I would do anything for him. He is my "little buddy" and I am so much better as a person because of my son and all he has taught me in his life. I have been trying to expose my son to many positive experiences and to try and engage him in conversation and allow him to express himself. He enjoys writing and when he knows a subject that he has knowledge of he loves to talk or write about it and express his ideas which I think is tremendous and very helpful for him and we encourage him always to speak and write with confidence and learn to expand his knowledge by being inquisitive and have a strong desire to learn and share his knowledge.
The mysterious and dark side of autism has such an influence on those who live with it everyday and who are witness to it everyday. There is a happy side to autism also which can help balance the sad and helpless side that provides us with hope and a sense that things will be ok. Knowing this gives me strength and allows me to enjoy my time with my son on both his good days and his bad days. We are working with him so he will have more positive experiences which will hopefully allow him to enjoy a lot more good days and expand his horizons.
Dedicated to my son, Matty and my wife Maria.
Edward D. Iannielli III