#MyJihad, for Two Children, is Anchored in Brotherly Love and Loss. What’s Yours?

Amir and Adam

Amir and Amal don’t know each other. But if they ever meet, they will discover how much they have in common. Amal is my nine-year-old daughter, who you have read about in this blog. She is my middle child, she is my hope, the coolness of my eyes, Lil D’s best friend and champion and fellow autism advocate/wrangler. Amir is the 10-year-old son of Angie Emara. Angie lost her four-year-old son Adam to Hunter’s Syndrome in 2009 and this year took her grief public with the #MyJihad campaign, decla … [Read more...]

I Wish I Were an Only Child

Daanish and Amal

On Saturday night, when we were walking the lighted paths of our local botanical garden, taking in the beauty around us, my daughter announced something that millions of children have uttered before her:“Sometimes I wish I was an only child.”It kind of hit me hard.In retrospect, it was a mere blip on our family landscape – way worse things have been said, and I’m sure my kids have nursed much more hurt feelings then they let on to me. But she had never uttered those words out loud bef … [Read more...]

Reflecting on the Holy Days, the Year of Autism, and One Resolution

Daanish smiling

Has it been a year already? Yes, one year has passed since witnessing the extraordinary miracle that united thousands in Central Virginia (where I live) to one singular purpose: Find the boy.Last year around this time, a young, nonverbal autistic boy – much like my own Lil D – disappeared on a family walk at a national battlefield park a half an hour away from where I live. As one day stretched into two, the police opened up their search to community volunteers, and thousands poured out to he … [Read more...]

Out of the Mouths of Babes

photo-1

We’re having Sunday morning conversation at our house, as my three kiddos (for once) sit together calmly at the dinner table with me and eat their breakfast. Lil D, who is hungry because we all slept in a little (though he awoke bright and early like he always does), is sitting down nicely and eating – no trying to run around and come back for bites, none of the recent rigmarole of me trying to make him sit down and eat with him resisting me at every step.A nice Sunday morning family bre … [Read more...]

Necessary Discussions in Autism Land

lovemyautisticbrother

Between discussions with my daughter about who are her new classmates or if the zippered binder I bought for her is the right one, and discussions with my youngest about how his first day of school was and how he needs to make sure to eat his lunch, we also have these discussions:How the kids need to listen to Mamma, and what they should do when Bhai (Lil D) has a meltdown.The other day, when all heck broke loose in our family room with Lil D, Hamza was right there playing with is cars. … [Read more...]

What Autism Can’t Take Away From Us – Our Kids

Ali kids in the fall

“What do you want for Eid, Mamma?”My daughter posed this question to me this morning as I drove her to her art camp. For once, we were alone in the car, with Lil D having gone to summer school an hour earlier and Hamza having been dropped at his summer camp by his father. Amal and I were enjoying a good mom-daughter conversation, and I was taking the opportunity to tell her how proud I was of her endeavors this Ramadan and her patience with her brothers, grandparents and us.I often dis … [Read more...]

The Bismillah – Preserving Dignity in an Autism Life

quran

Family and guests are arriving, the food is cooked to feed everyone at the house, the batwas (party favors) have been filled and labels added, the laddus (classic Indo-Pakistani dessert) are made, the decorations for the hall are ready, and the food for the party is coming together. It’s Bismillah time at our house.A Bismillah is a cultural/religious occasion (it’s not mandated in Islam), a ceremony that marks when a child is ready to learn how to read the Quran. Typically, it happens when a … [Read more...]


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