D and I in his classroom on his 15th birthday.

In passing by the bathroom where D was showering, my niece remarks, he sure sings a lot in the shower. Yes, he does. D sings, he hums, he makes sounds and gets up in your face with a loud, fast cacophony of babbles when he is trying so hard to convey something to you. His face comes close to yours as if to say – don’t you get what I’m trying to say? Understand me.We, his closest loved ones, know the lilt, strength, cadence, tone, melody and volume of his sounds so well. The satisfactory noise … [Read more...]

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...]

The Srebrenica Genocide and the Bosnian War – Never Forget

"Srebrenica massacre memorial gravestones 2009 1" by Michael Büker - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

To God we belong and to God we return. Please take the time to say a prayer, for these men and boys, and also for the survivors. So many lives cut short (in the span of 3 days). It's especially breathtaking (as in, I can't breathe) when I see DOBs so close to my own. While I was taking exams and learning how to drive, they were murdered in cold blood, a deliberate genocide. Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi rajioon. – Hind Makki, Patheos Muslim blogger at HindtrospectivesTwenty years ago, like H … [Read more...]

How Young is Too Young to Fast?

Kids and ramadan_resized

She sat on the sofa and refused. I tried everything I could to convince her, but she kept refusing and refusing and refusing.You're not ready, I told her. You're too young. It's too long a day. I love that you want to, but not today. Next year!And that's when she started to cry. Why are you making me stop when I really want to? And then she said the words that I have said to her so many times. This is between me and Allah. I want to fast. I know I can. So don't stop me.And so I wiped … [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...]

Book Review: “undivided: A Muslim Daughter, Her Christian Mother, Their Path to Peace

book cover

My life had changed. My Christian daughter became a Muslim.And my life and every single thing about life just flat-out flew apart.So here I sit today, ten years after my daughter made her announcement, staring at my keyboard in my belabored home office -- which also is a wreck and needs decluttering and an overhaul. Still, even in this mess, I commit to speak truth about the biggest mountain in my life that has yet to move.I wish my daughter wasn’t a Muslim.Wrong to say? P … [Read more...]