WHO AM I?
I am Fatima Shaikh , I studied BSc in Microbiology and a Diploma in pathology and was working before I got married. After marriage, I worked for a short short while but gave up because I needed to focus on my son, Usaid after his diagnosis. Its a decision which I never regretted .
INTRODUCING MY SPOUSE
My husband is a civil engineer . He is my pillar of strength and support. I couldn't have wished for anyone better than him as my life partner . The love and trust binds us such . We give each other strength and make up for each other's weaknesses too .
HOW MANY KIDS DO I HAVE?
I have 2 kids . My elder one is 20 years and Usaid my younger one is 17 years and on the autism spectrum.
WHAT DO WE DO FOR FUN?
From holidays to camps to movies , outings , long drives, walks , playing games indoors and outdoors.
WHO IS THE STRICT PARENT?
Me, not all the time but when needed , yes .
WHY IS MY SPECIAL NEEDS CHILD SO SPECIAL TO THE FAMILY?
My son was diagnosed at 3 ½ years. We went through all the usual emotions that all parents go through . Shock ;denial and finally acceptance. It's better not to waste much time in the first two stages, that is shock & denial and accept the diagnosis because the first few years are very crucial and will help your child progress well with proper therapies.
“Acceptance doesn't mean resignation. It means understanding something is what it is and there's got to be a way through it.”
Autism is not a race but a marathon. After the diagnosis I read a lot of books and attended workshops . It helped me understand what is autism , how to deal with the behaviour issues and how to help my child . It made me feel empowered !
I believe that the parent is the best therapist for the child because you are with your child 24 x 7. You know your child the best and vice a versa. Family support is very very important. Equal contribution of all the members will help in the well-being of the child . My husband used to come home at night and help me with any therapy that is left for the day, feeding him dinner and putting him to sleep.
My elder son used to take him down to play with his friends ,to the garden, for swimming and skating.
We used every opportunity to socialize with relatives specially his grandparents ,uncle and aunts. This helped a lot because whenever they were emergencies my son was able to stay with them and I was able to focus on the family members who needed me.
Support from school is another important factor. My son's school life was good. It was teamwork with the teachers ,the counsellor and myself and this has really helped shape him up well.
Find your child's strengths and nurture them , work on their weaknesses ,do not focus on them . My son was good at music and painting and recently he has started enjoying dancing so I tried to balance his likes with his academics.
I do not want to force my ambitions and expectations on him .I would be happy if he turns out to be an independent self-sufficient and educated individual . I'm working on his life skills and independent skills for that.
Usaid is special because we love him unconditionally and he loves us the same way too. I also thank god that he sent his older brother first because he knew he was going to send Usaid to us . Usaid calls his brother ' the bestest brother in he world '
HIS BROTHER -
The biggest blessing and influence in his life has been his elder brother .My elder one, loves and cares for his younger brother selflessly . Never ever has he complained about me neglecting him which I am sure has happened . I was so engrossed in his therapies and academics. His brother's friends are Usaids friends . If there any friend made fun of Usaid , then that person would not remain a friend anymore .
WHAT ARE OUR CHALLENGES?
Getting him to be self sufficient and independent. We are working on it .
HOW DO WE OVERCOME CHALLENGES?
One step at a time . With him as a partner , helping when needed with a little bit of push . We always try to think of the problems he may have and then think of solutions from his perspective.
I respect my sons feelings and emotions. if he says no to something I do not force him.
ONE FAVOURITE MEMORY I WOULD LIKE TO SHARE WITH OTHERS ..
There are many. But one that is close to my heart is when he was going for his farewell party of 10th standard. I saw him all grown up , suited and booted and got so emotional. He just came to me and kissed my forehead . That was a very precious moment for me
WHAT DO I HAVE TO SAY TO OTHER FAMILIES WITH SPECIAL CHILDREN?
I want to draw your attention to an extract from WELCOME TO HOLLAND--by Emily Perl Kingsley.
"I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this......
When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting. After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."
"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy." But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay. The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place. So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met. It’s just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy.
But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts. But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned." And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss. But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland."
I love this extract and believe in it.
It’s true because I have met the most wonderful parents , friends and families from the parent support group FORUM FOR AUTISM who have handheld and guided me on how to deal with autism and help my child after my his diagnosis.
What I also learnt is that
if I don't believe in my child , who will?
If I don't understand him , no one will?
and if I don't advocate for him no one will !
Issues are still there but we have come a long long way from where we started and grateful to God for that. There is so much work still left. He has to know how to cope in college , be independent and go out there in the world . The toughest part!
Please do not compare your child with another child. Please compare him/her with their own progress.
Also, as a parent you are doing the best you can! I strongly believe that every child has come with his/her own destiny to fulfill on this earth!
Lots of love