Helping Your Child with Special Needs Succeed in a Religious School

Editor's Note: Raising my son D (who is autistic) and contemplating what a religious education -- whether in a day school or a Sunday school -- has to offer children like him is something I've thought a lot about. While I never considered enrolling D in our local Sunday School or religious day school (because his needs were to great for them to accommodate), I know others in my community who have struggled to get their special needs children enrolled in a religious educational … [Read more...]

ISNA Disability Narratives: A Purpose to Why God Created You As You Are

Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons, Photo User HORIZON

This post is part of a short series of disability narratives shared by the speakers and moderator (me!), who will be part of a panel discussion on "Finding Our Voice: Sharing our Disability Experiences to Seek Empowerment and Affect Change" this Saturday at the Islamic Society of North America convention. We're hoping to show how sharing our stories is a way to build community and change perceptions.By Sara MinkaraRed. Yellow. Green. Orange—all the colors of fall that many of us look fo … [Read more...]

Engaging v. Disengaging: When Working With ISNA Means the Push for Women-Friendly Mosques

Women in the mosque, photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons, user Stephanie Keith

It’s a debate I’ve watched from the sidelines for several years within the American Muslim community.When organizations (or the government agencies or administrations) are making missteps, deliberately harming or are simply and woefully behind the times when it comes to positive engagement and necessary progress, is better to disengage (even boycott), or is it better to constructively criticize and work from within the system – and thereby risk being lumped with some of those missteps – to af … [Read more...]


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...]

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...]

Ali Family Autism Truths #27 – The Friends We Make Along the Way


April 27, 2015, Autism Awareness Month, Autism Truths #27At a birthday party we attended yesterday, the theme was superheroes. The kids were running around in padded superhero costumes, some with capes flying out behind them as they darted in and out of the house, bobbing and weaving through the adults. Teenage girls, the friends of the birthday boy's older sister, were also decked out in teenage-versions of superhero costumes. They were giggling, laughing, taking selfies and scarfing down … [Read more...]

Ali Family Autism Truths #21 – The Most Vulnerable


April 21, 2015 - Autism Awareness Month, Autism Truths #21When I picked up D today from school,, his lead teacher escorted him to my car (usually it's one of the teaching assistants). She tends to come out to the car line usually only to tell her students' parents something great that happened that day -- or something bad.Great, not bad, please -- I said to myself.She started with the great - D had a great day today. Did all his work very well, especially his work on the VAAPs … [Read more...]