GLOSS Issue 2 ( July / August 2017 ) - Page 35

PA R E N T I N G around that something is amiss with their child. Dedra L. Stevenson recalls, “I am an American married to an Emirati. While talking about autism was relatively common in America back then, the awareness was much less in the Emirates twenty years ago. My in-laws would brush aside my fears and insist that being a boy, Ibrahim, who is 24 now, just needed more time to start speaking.” She continues, “One day, I got up abruptly during a family gathering and banged the door loudly. Everyone turned around except Ibrahim. He continued playing with his blocks, oblivious completely to the commotion. That is when everyone realised what I was trying to tell them.” For high-functioning kids on the spectrum like Oscar, 10, the symptoms may vary. His mother Andrea Allen, says, “I remember him being an extremely quirky child, flapping his arms repeatedly. He also had extreme separation anxiety and could not calm himself down if I had left him alone for some time. Oscar also displayed signs of OCD and would want to continuously wash his hands. Initially, he was diagnosed with sensorial issues but last year, I was actually relieved to have a formal ASD diagnosis.” “There still isn’t enough awareness of autism in society and parents like us get little support,” says Dedra. Dedra recalls how there were few places for her son to go to get the right help, back then and she highlights the fact that there are very limited places for adults with autism to go to once they turn eighteen. She says, “It was such a struggle for me to find places which would enrol him as an adult. Eventually, I had to take things in my control and I hired two professional caretakers for Ibrahim and supervised his homeschooling programme.” Homeschooling is certainly an option for parents to consider given the rising cost and lack of affordable facilities. Amina says, “with two other school going children, it is very difficult to manage financially. How does one afford the therapies required along with the school fee? I had to learn to help my child at home and somehow enable him to acquire the relevant life skills.” Andrea had an extremely tough time with the school authorities where she had enrolled Oscar. “While we are trying to encourage inclusive education, there is much to be desired. Many teachers are not well-equipped to handle a child Oscar is a high functioning autistic with special needs when they have child. He is able to speak well twenty plus other regular children and interact fairly with others but to take care of.” According to certain environmental conditions Andrea, an official diagnosis seemed like loud noises can trigger an to have given Oscar’s school the outburst. liberty to 6W"7BF2FFP&6RGVRF2VBFv26R6FVW26G&VvFWF6FB66WB6vW2fW'( 6W'FǒvRVVBFV6W'2F&R&WGFW"G&VB@V6ǒBf&b6vR6G&vvW"GfW'6PWVVBFFR7V6VVG26G&VvRVV@&V7FƖR67&V֖r"&WWFFfRfVVG2WG&V662B7Vff6VBFVw&FvFWF6&ǒffV7G2&2fW"FW2&RF&VwV"6G&VW7BƖRFW"6G&VG2vFv&2BFRW7B6W6RbWF627FB6V"7V6VVG2&R&V6W2FBVVBFR7W'@&W6V&62vr7W'&VFǒ'W@FW6vWBF&V6RFR&W7@W66Ɩr26W'FǒFW6&R( ЧFW&R2FVfFVǒvVWF2ƖFRW&WVVFW72F6FRFv602W7BFR&VvrbWG&VVǒ&GVW2W&Wf"VvF7V6VVG26BFf"&VG2F66FW"vfVFR&6p67BB6bff&F&Pf6ƗFW2&VG2vF6G&VFP7V7G'V&VGfRVFR6VvRFFVvFFW&2`VrFV"6G&VVf'GVFVǒFbFW6P6VvW2FW&R&Rf6BFW"VF@3P