Sorry for not posting anything for a while, but I had the pleasure to attend the First Muslim Conference on Autism in New York city this past weekend.
This event was scheduled early this year in February, but the city was buried in a blizzard and the event had to be canceled. This community is not just a talker, but they always spring into action whenever they see there is a need, or an opportunity of doing good. I call them the “Pioneers of the autism movement amongst the Muslim community in the USA”.
The MAS Community Center in Brooklyn hosted the event. They had great speakers who covered all aspects of autism. We all agreed on the importance of educating the community, providing valuable information, and resources for families with autistic children.
Also, we talked about how the community could provide emotional, physical and spiritual support for families with autistic children. One excellent question posed was about how can one suggest to a parent that they should have their children evaluated. Honestly, I cannot find the right answer to that question. It would be very easy just to tell the parents “take your child to the developmental pediatrician and have him checked”, but then I would probably have to be checked into the hospital in some cases as well for being so forward. This question has been, and I think always will be, a very sensitive issue. We are dealing with denial, cultural influences, and shame in that many people don’t want to think that their children are not typical – therefore they might be missing the warning signs. Language barriers can play a huge role in asking for help as well, as is the lack of proper services.
All the way home I was thinking about a sensitive solution and I came up with an idea. But I do request all of you out there reading this post to help us develop an approach in regards to this issue.
The first step is to raise awareness amongst our community, so the children can be properly diagnosed and get services at a young age. Starting services at a young age can enhance their progression a great deal.
My idea is to make a small poster with the list of developmental mile-stones, signs and symptoms of autism, and on the bottom list some of the available resources. This poster can be either handed out, or displayed in an area where lots of people can see it and have easy access to it.
This conference was a big step toward raising awareness amongst the Muslims about autism, but we still have a long way to go. I can’t thank all the sisters and brothers who made this event happen enough. It is a serious issue that needed to be addressed, and it is long overdue, and the New York community took the initiative to start something that can potentially help thousands of Muslim children, and their families, in the spectrum. God bless you all for helping and for making a difference.
This event was recorded. When the video recording is available I will post the link for you all.