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Facing Autism Twice

“There is no awareness. This is the biggest thing. It’s really important to have awareness. Because not only is the child getting hurt, but you’re also hurting the parents.”

This is why Sumreen thinks many South Asian parents don’t open up to others about the problems they face raising special needs children.

“Because people feel embarrassed, right? In reality what happens is in our culture the blaming game gets played a lot. People just take it as gossip. If they took it seriously, then it could be talked about in a very good way.”

But before raising awareness about autism, Sumreen says people need to be made aware about special needs in general.

“One time I was at the airport, and I was standing in a queue. Shahzaib was putting his foot on a belt nearby that was moving. It’s hard to handle both of them, so I was telling this person, ‘Please hurry up, I have an autism card. I’ll show you.’ She just didn’t realize what this was. So I said he’s a special child, and she replied, ‘Just your child is special? Everybody’s child is special! Even my child is special!’”

Sumreen and Rais burst out in laughter.

“It’s a matter of understanding,” Sumreen added. “The problem is in autism no disability can be recognized in the child, so people do not sympathize with you. They say, ‘He looks like a normal child.’”

Their fits of laughter exposed just how strong in spirit they needed to be to overcome the many challenges they faced.

“Parents must be positive,” Sumreen said. “Many parents say, ‘Oh look this happened to us. We are so unfortunate.’ I tell everyone, ‘You are special, that’s why God gave you this hard target. Do what you can do, leave the rest to God.’”

Sumreen admitted that in the beginning it wasn’t as easy to be positive.

“Before I had a lot of embarrassment. People start looking at you with sympathy. At that time it feels strange. ‘Why am I being thought of as poor thing?’ Now I have changed my motive. No, we are the special people and that’s why God gave us a hard target. We are not normal. We, too, are special.”

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12 Responses to Facing Autism Twice

  1. Nipa January 10, 2010 at 3:59 am #

    This article means alot to me and I am sure it will give great strength to all parents who read it. Sumreen and Rais are truely amazing human beings. Thanks Uttama for penning it down so beautifully and truthfully.

    Nipa.

  2. Yaseen Ghori January 11, 2010 at 7:55 am #

    People are born to enjoy others’ problems, but they inversely suffer from the same if they are theirs. If it happend to them they would have different suggestions and steps for their loved ones. Both, Sumreen Rais and Rais Azam have shown their ongoing stamina in the war of baseless social commments.BRAVO!

  3. saiqa zulfiqar Ahmed January 11, 2010 at 1:12 pm #

    such a thought provoking interview for parents who can’t cop with their special children.I know Sumreen personally she is a very strong person & had been steadfast through all her calamities .
    I know how stressful it is to manage with special kids in a conservative society of ours.both sumreen Rais n Rais Azam are outstanding humanbeings may ALLAH bless them with more courage ,stamina & knoweledge n n reward in hereafter as ALLAH says in QURAN ‘verliy after every stress there is a relief’
    hats off to you both
    love & regards
    saiqa

  4. South Asian Parent January 17, 2010 at 1:30 pm #

    Their story truly is inspiring, and as South Asian parents, they are wonderful role models. We admire their honesty, their endless optimism, and their ability to make peace with a society that constantly challenges them.

  5. Najwa January 24, 2010 at 4:32 pm #

    An encouraging story that anyone with an autistic child in thire life should read.
    great spirit to fight!

  6. Nirmal January 27, 2010 at 5:11 pm #

    This is truly touching even when I am fully aware of this story. Samreen rais is like an aunt to me. I have spent my childhood at her place playing with the boys who have now MASHALLAH grown up to be so handsome. :)

    I have tears in my eyes. I just have all my prayers with them at all times.
    Know this samreen aunty. i love you :)

    Ameen.

  7. Nirmal January 27, 2010 at 5:19 pm #

    And I am so proud of u!

    mwah!

  8. Yasmin January 28, 2010 at 6:37 am #

    May Almighty Allah shower his blessings upon U & your family Sumreen.. My heartiest prayers are always with you… You both are really very special… You are really a strong lady & a role model for everyone out there.. Feel sorry for not being there for U when ever U needed a friend to share your feelings.. But I am always there for U when ever U need me… You’ll always be in our prayers…
    Luv U all..
    Yasmin..

  9. Momal January 28, 2010 at 8:19 am #

    Its so nice to read this,i simply luv u sumreen aunty. I know u had to face lots of troubles in ur life and im glad thats all over with ur strength and courage.MashAllah zeeshan and shahzaib are grown soo much.
    Im glad u guys have settled down well,may all those prob making idiots always stay away from your life and you guys always stay happy.
    Ameen

  10. Mabel January 28, 2010 at 2:46 pm #

    I am so happy to meet this wonderful family…their sons’ SMILES could really brighten a gloomy day…

    Zeeshan is part of my life… thanks for the inspiration Rais & Sumreen!

    God bless you and your family…

    See yah!
    Mabel

  11. Nizar ( Hasan's Dad) January 29, 2010 at 4:45 pm #

    As a parent of an autistic like child I think I can understand and really appreciate the meaning and the value such kinds of kids add to our life.I have met the parents of these two nice kids and their parents in a very recent gathering.They are really wonderful and give me and my family a very big push forward.

    Regards,
    Nizar ( Hasan’s Dad)

  12. Pratima January 30, 2010 at 9:09 am #

    “We are the special people and that’s why God gave us a hard target” This positive attitude of parents doesn’t give stress rather gives more relaxation. So much to learn from Sumreen and Rais. Can solve many problems with such attitude. God bless them & their children.

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