Islam, Therapy Dogs and Autism – In Search of a Constant Companion

Autism therapy dogs

It started, as I usually does, with the yearning for something better for D – something that would provide him comfort, security and companionship, something or someone who would be allowed in to his physical space when the rest of us were pushed out.With my nieces spending the weekend with us at the house, D had spent most of the day in and out of the family picture -- sometimes venturing to be in the same room with and interact with his cousins, and sometimes retreating to the safe space o … [Read more...]

From Access to Belonging – On the ADA and the Muslim Special Needs and Disability Community’s Journey

President George H.W. Bush signing the American Disabilities Act into law 25 years ago.

This weekend I was honored to participate and speak at an event organized by the Interfaith Disability Advocacy Coalition -- "From Access to Belonging: An Interfaith Service Celebrating the Progress and Promise of the ADA." It is part of several events happening in Washington D.C. and around the country to honor the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disability Act, a landmark piece of legislation. It's interesting that the ADA, which holds most of our public life accountable … [Read more...]

His Theatrical Debut – On Inclusion and Plays in Autism Land

Image from the theatrical program for "Caps for Sale"

In flipping through his yellow binder, where his teachers and I do our daily communication, I found it.A simple flyer with a simple announcement. But it was everything to me. Everything.We are putting on a play! ********** In our parental autism journey, there came a point when I learned that the so-called "normal" experiences and rites of passages of childhood are not always meant to be -- and that was ok. I didn't feel it so much in the early years after D's diagnosis, when he was in … [Read more...]

With Head Bowed, I See the Light


[A] person whose head is bowed and whose eyes are heavy cannot look at the light. -  Christine de Pizan, Ditié de Jehanne d'ArcWith his head on my lap as we sit in the back seat, we drive home.He is heavily dozing under a medicated sleep, and the husband and I wonder how we are going to get him up the front steps into our home. Why not drive around some more, run some errands if you want, I say to my husband. We'll stay in the car until he starts to wake up.So that's what we do. … [Read more...]

Ali Family Autism Truths #30 – We Will Live Truthfully

D smiling_resized

April 30, 2015 - Autism Awareness Month, Autism Truths #30Why should you care? Really, why should you care? There is an earthquake that has devastated Nepal causing the deaths of nearly 4,000 people. In Baltimore, following the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody, the city is crying for justice, and African Americans across the country are warning that this cannot go on, that post-racial America is a myth, that #BlackLivesMatter. ISIS continues to wreak havoc. California is … [Read more...]

Ali Family Autism Truths #29 – The Way to the Unknown Future

D at Short Pump_resized

April 29, 2015 - Autism Awareness Month, Autism Truths #29Most mornings are a mad rush of arms and legs, cereal bowls, packed lunches, backpacks and last minute signing of forms. Once I get the younger two out the door -- either on the bus or with their Baba -- I turn my attention to D,  who usually is up by the time and playing around, waiting to get ready for school.I assist him quickly, using the time we have together to prompt him through his morning routine -- teach him the steps to … [Read more...]

Ali Family Autism Truths #28 – You Can’t Walk Away

D, chilling on the sofa before bedtime.

April 28, 2015 - Autism Awareness Month, Autism Truths #28I was face-timing with my daughter tonight, helping her complete an English assignment. She and the her siblings are at home with their Baba and grandparents, and I am out of town and spending time with my father, who had surgery today.In the background, I heard the voices of D loud and clear. A was in the study working, and when it got too loud where she was, she picked up her phone and computer and took me into the family room. … [Read more...]