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...]

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...]

Autism, Childhood and the Perpetual Questions – A Sibling Speaks Up

holding_hands

How do the siblings of individuals with autism cope with the spectrum disorder's grip on their lives? When so much of a family's life revolves around the child with ASD, how do siblings feel about it all -- the questions from friends, having to leave parties early and a thousand other things? How do you handle going to the mosque when half of your family never comes because your brother cannot handle it and the community isn't the most welcoming? I wonder what my own two younger children feel in … [Read more...]

Trying Not to Be That Person

autism meme

I don’t want to be that person. I really don’t. But I find myself being that person despite my best intentions.I don’t want to be that person who attends a big party having left her eldest son at home (a boy who, because of his intense autism, cannot handle the lateness of the evening, the menu, amount of people and general loud and crowded party atmosphere) and has trouble making small talk because all she thinks is, Really? We’re going to comment on the décor of the room or how good (or bad … [Read more...]

A Ramadan Prayer for Special Needs Families

Ramadan advent calendar

Am I preparing for Ramadan? Yes and no. With my in-laws out of town right now (it's the first Ramadan we're spending apart in several years), I am not worrying so much about pre-cooking and freezing things for dinner and iftaar (in efforts to free up my time from the kitchen during Ramadan). My nine-year-old plans to fast more this month with me ("Mamma, you've got to let me fast more than four times like I did last year," she says to me. Ok little girl, I think. Just you wait until you try and … [Read more...]

An Autism Report Card

report card

After years upon years of scrutinizing progress reports and hashing out (and assessing) IEPs (individualized education plan – what special education students have written for them in lieu of following a set school curriculum), I got Lil D’s year-end report card today with percentages listed for his final grades.These percentages translate to letter grades. My son has never received letter grades in his life, as his IEPs have addressed the most basic of academic skills with a heavy emphasis on … [Read more...]

Holding on to ‘Himaat’ in Autism Land

strength

In Urdu there is a word called himaat, and the best I can explain it in English is to have courage, strength or fortitude -- to have the wherewithal to do something otherwise difficult. Or simply put, to have himaat means to have nerve.Himaat is a popular Urdu word, used by elder women and tragic Bollywood heroines alike – meri himaat toot gai. (My courage is broken.) Or, meri ku himaat nay hai. (I don’t have the strength to do …) As they have aged, I’ve watched both my mom and mother-in-law … [Read more...]


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