Autism Awareness Feature by Shamima Khatun Ms Great Britain Finalist
My eldest nephew Khadir was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome at the age of 7. My brother and my sister-in-law did not really understand nor realise that their son had Asperger’s. As to them, their child was happy, healthy and was normal until his diagnosis. Being from an Asian background many people in the community had seen this as a problem, a curse or just pure bad luck. Asperger’s is a neurobiological disorder, which causes difficulties in socialising, non-verbal communication and restricted and repetitive patterns of interests and behaviours. Unfortunately, there were many in the community that did not want to understand that Asperger’s was a genetic disorder.
And due to this being a problem for others in the community, my brother, my sister-in-law and their children were kept in the dark. They had no support from friends, nor did people want to understand what Asperger’s syndrome was, as they strongly believed that my nephew was mostly cursed and that he was never going to be normal. However, despite the ups and downs they faced as a family, my brother and my sister-in-law have done their best to provide and support Khadir as much as they could by making his life as normal as possible. Khadir goes to a lovely school for children with Autism and Asperger’s, and he is doing really well, whilst receiving great care and support by his lovely teachers. Khadir has made some lovely friends there and my brother and my sister-in-law, are just thankful that he’s happy, that he is healthy and is thriving. Khadir is a very happy child and although he may find things difficult at times, he keeps on going and I could not be prouder of him!
My youngest nephew Essah was diagnosed with Autism at the age of 2. My sister was aware of how different he was compared to other children at a young age, especially when it came to numbers and words. My nephew unbelievably knew how to count and write numbers up to one hundred from 12 months old and he then went onto writing sums and many words at the age of 2. Being diagnosed with autism and having to tell a parent/s is difficult and my sisters worry was how her Essah would cope during adulthood, especially when it came to the social side of things. My nephew did find it very difficult to communicate with others and he did not speak until he was 6 years old. Due to finding communication difficult it caused my nephew anxiety and many breakdowns. Nevertheless, in time, things very much improved for him and with the help and support he is now talking more, communicating as best as he can and when he is comfortable to do so. Essah also goes to a lovely school for children with autism and he is doing great. He receives wonderful care and support by his teachers and has made many friends. Essah is very much a mathematical child who loves numbers and will be exceeding in maths in the future. My sister has been brilliant with him and has done the best she can as any mother would, as a parent she is thankful that he is well and that he is happy.
Being on the autistic spectrum does not have to stop you having a good life. Like everyone, people with autism have things that they are good at and things that they struggle with. Being autistic does not necessarily mean that you can never have friends, be in relationships or even have a career. You may just need extra help and support with things that you may find difficult. And yet, some autistic people will need little or no support.
I could not be any prouder of how my brother, my sister-in-law and my sister have coped through the many struggles they have had as parents. Despite the trials and tribulations, they have very much done what any parent would do for their children. And that is caring, loving, and supporting their children no matter what. I love my nephews; and I am very proud to be their aunty and I help support them in any way I can. Autism should be talked about more and should not be ignored nor criticised by those who do not know or understand much about the condition. By raising awareness about autism, it's a great way to spread the word as this will encourage people to talk about it more often as well show their support. This could also help those with autism and their families reach out and share their thoughts and experiences.