How I stopped hoping for my autistic son to become ‘normal’

Yesterday marked the 10th World Autism Awareness Day. The United Nations, which passed a unanimous resolution in 2007 designating April 2nd for autism awareness, had Autonomy and Self-Determination as this year’s theme.

One would expect that in this day and age, people would have a better idea of what autism is (or isn’t). But from activists, academics to parents, there is consensus that the situation is far from ideal and the world at large has failed to recognise the rights of people with autism.

We, the neurotypical (those who don’t fall on the spectrum of autism) in psychiatric parlance, tend to see autistic people as inherently broken and abnormal. As a result, people with autism still fall outside of the basic human rights mentioned in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and therefore, fail to develop autonomy and self-determination.

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10 things I’ve learned raising my autistic son

April 2 is the eighth World Autism Awareness Day. This day is celebrated to raise awareness about different aspects of autism so that families, societies, and governments can collectively devise policies and strategies for providing a better support system to improve the lives of people with autism.

Whilst awareness about autism, a broad-spectrum disability, has been increasing, there are several misunderstanding, myths, and taboos attached, in terms of what it is and what can be done. It is a fact that people with autism are increasing Worldwide; and so should the awareness so that there can be collective effort for better intervention, leading to reduced stress on the parents, care takers, and governments.

At a playground filled with kids, Adil* excitedly runs to the swing only to find that a girl is taking it. This particular moment is a litmus test for me as I wait for my son’s reaction.

My faint smile turns into a sigh of relief when he says, “Maybe I can wait and play in sand for some time.” He runs and jumps in the sand playing with dump trucks and other toy construction vehicles.

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December 16 – A Black Day for Humanity

This post is dedicated to the tragedy struck in Pakistan . Today is a terrible terrible day for all of Pakistanis, for all of the mothers, for all the humanity. I am a mother and I am distraught to hear the tragedy that has struck in Peshawar, Pakistan. My heart like many others in the world is rending with sorrow and grief. As I stand for my namaz ,tears keep rolling down. I imagine for a second the plight of a mother who has lost her child in this tragedy and feel weak with grief. Emotions can’t keep control on themselves. I let the tears roll down because I don’t want them to stop. I let myself feel this tragedy. I let myself immerse in the numbness of the situation. I let myself grieve for more than 100 kids that have been brutally murdered in a terrorist attack. Terrorists have hit at the heart of my nation. I grieve with you Peshawar. I grieve with you Pakistan.

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Impact of Electricity Cuts on the Way of Life

Breakdown of critical infrastructure systems, such as electricity generation and distributing systems, in modern societies can lead to economic expensive and socially catastrophic consequences. Pakistanis have been suffering from unscheduled and prolonged load shedding consistently for the past 7-8 years. This is an example of breakdown of a critical infrastructure that has changed the dynamics of living in Pakistan.  In summers, when the temperatures hit 48 degrees Celsius, it becomes unbearable to survive the heat without any fans or air conditioners. This situation has prompted me to start a new research using the theoretical framework of “Infrastructure Inversion” to study the impact of infrastructure failure on the societal living and practices in Pakistani urban households which are considered a modern digitally networked society.  Continue reading

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Sustainability Education- Need of the Hour

During the last few years, Pakistan has faced many man-made and natural disasters. It has been affected by floods, droughts, cyclones, earthquakes that has created a stressful society. Man-made critical infrastructure failure like the on going energy crisis has made matters worse. These complex socio-environmental issues have put Pakistan under a lot of stress. The society is in a traumatic state of mind. Presently, there is social inertia in Pakistan on issues like sustainable development, climate change, and energy efficiency. These types of issues cannot be overlooked  for long  without risking the irreparable and grave looses to socio-economic ecosystem of a country. No doubt, the need of the hour is to lessen the effects of all such disasters which unfortunately have been recurring too often and targeting the most precious asset of a country i.e its workforce. Continue reading

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Corporate Social Responsibility: Doing well by doing good

I came across a news item in the local newspaper where the President of Pakistan is commending an established company in oil and gas exploration industry of Pakistan for its stellar financial performance. The news item ends with an almost negligible mention of the said company’s “intended” contribution to the environment. This reminded me of Supreme Court’s notice last year to the oil and gas exploration businesses for non compliance of Corporate Social Responsibility . Today the same group is being lauded for its financial achievements at the cost of the environment and the society.  The news intrigued me to conduct an online search for Corporate Social Responsibility values (under which the company dedicates its resources for the social and environmental good) of the businesses in Pakistan and unfortunately found that businesses take CSR frivolously.  Why is it that businesses in Pakistan as in other developing countries fail to recognize CSR as an integral part of their standard operating procedures?  The answers are simple and as you will see, so vulnerable.

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Its not easy to make the “true” choice

It was a clear case of bashing. Rina Saeed Khan (RSK), an acitvitist for clean and renewable energy has always written commendable pieces about integrating economic development with environment but never before her piece invited such scathing comments as now. While news of coal fired power plants have been in the headlines recently portraying a healthy approach to solve the energy crisis, Rina’s article put that truth to test. She says it loud and clear that “There’s nothing clean about coal.” asking the government and the policy makers to “support clean energy before its too late.” What follows in the comments sections is the voice of a society whose priorities are hugely displaced.

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