Embracing (and Including) Autism and Special Needs Families in Muslim Communities

crescent and star clouds

The day after speaking at the 50th annual Islamic Society of North American conference in Washington, D.C., I was back at home in my basement hanging with Lil D. He was roaming about, spinning his beads and calling “Maw-maw! Maw-maw! Maw-maw” – very much caught up in his stim and oblivious to the world. Every so often he stopped and would come close to me, put his face in mine and say nonsensical words like “Oweeowee owee. Maw-maw! Maw-maw!”As if to say – ok Mamma, you had an audience, you sa … [Read more...]

‘Ittefaq’ – Meant to Be

blue contact

I hugged my mom goodbye. Instead of our usual tight and brief hug, I went in for a long one, nestling my head into the crook of her neck, as I’ve done during the times I never wanted to let her go – when she was leaving to go back home after I had given birth to Hamza. Or when I had brought an infant Amal and a newly-autism-diagnosed Lil D to her home for post-partum recovery. Or after I had come home from the hospital after a devastating miscarriage, and she was waiting for me.The hug when w … [Read more...]

To Those Who Believe that People with Autism Have No Worth, I Have a Message for You

Lil D

We live in a pretty quiet neighborhood – it’s your classic big old-style Southern colonial Virginian houses, complete with magnolia trees out front. Kind of a weird fit for an American Muslim-Indian family with a headscarf-clad mom (me), old school Indian in-laws (who are newly minted American citizens!), husband and three kids, the eldest of whom certainly disrupts the serene scene at times.It’s a neighborhood of kids and school busses, but not teeming with kids playing outside or in the str … [Read more...]

Why Did You Leave Me?

Lil D hoody smiling

I picture it happening like this: He walks in the door, weary after traveling thousands of miles and sitting for hours on a plane, then driving nearly three hours more – across time zones and battling jet lag – and drops his bags and calls out to his son. The edges of the picture fade into a blur and the room goes silent as the focus turns with a sharp clarity onto Lil D, spinning his beads and pacing the length of the family room. It’s time for the big moment, the story-book reunion between fat … [Read more...]

An Eid without Lil D and Autism

Dilshad2

It was a pretty monumental end to Ramadan 2013 for our family, as we celebrated the Eid-ul-Fitr holiday here in Hyderabad, India, completing what was my first experience fasting and celebrating this Eid outside of the United States. My hands have mendhi (henna) on them, I ate more than my fair share of sheer khorma, and we met more family in one day on Eid than I ever have before. We managed to stuff the day with Eid prayers, Friday prayers, a stellar biryani lunch (natch) for any and all family … [Read more...]

Happy Birthday Lil D – Not so Lil Anymore

Daanish 13 birthday

It isn’t a celebration unless we eat biryani, and that our family did – in two different continents.I woke yesterday morning to the sound of bleating goats in the front yard. Normally it would’ve been the sing-song sounds of Lil D roaming the house, as he gets up pretty much as early on the weekend as he does on the weekday. But he is not here with me. He is far, far away, like a line out of a fairy tale.I am in India. He is at home in Virginia with my parents. And I am not with him on th … [Read more...]

Ingratitude in the Face of Gratitude – the Autism Oxymoron

Daanish adn Dilshad nose to nose

I finally broke at 1:02 a.m. this morning – July 26, on the 17th fast of Ramadan the day before our big trip. The deluge began with this text to one of my best friends:“I am so sad to leave Lil D. Eff autism. Not fasting right now – I can say that, right?”To which my friend replied, “I’ve been waiting for this text …”And I answered, “Eff eff eff eff eff autism. He should be coming with me. … I should not be leaving my son for a month. … I’m feeling like a bad mom …”And we went bac … [Read more...]


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