A Beautiful Perspective on Special Needs

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Dr Sara Hassan

My daughter Mariam was first diagnosed with autism prior to her second birthday. And for the longest time, my grief over her diagnosis was fuelled by an overwhelming sadness over all the things that I felt she would miss out on in life. Because Society had taught me that every girl should find her Prince Charming and settle into a Happily Ever After together, I grieved that she would never marry and have children of her own. Because Society had taught me that a good education leads to opportunities, to burgeoning respect, to an ability to change the world, I grieved that she would never stand on a stage in resplendent regalia. Because Society showed me that those who are different often struggle, I grieved over the struggles that she would face navigating a world where her words were few and her vulnerabilities were great.

Society had indoctrinated me with narrow-minded expectations of what constituted a happy, successful and easy life. And, for the longest time, I stood longingly outside the closed doors of those expectations, lamenting their closure and the impact it would have on my daughters life. And because I was so busily, so determinedly, being grief stricken, I couldn’t see that my grief was mired in selfishness. Because while I was so focused on what Society said my Mariam would MISS due to autism, I became blind to all the beautiful things that Society failed to acknowledge that my Mariam would GAIN due to autism.

So today, as my daughter enters her fourteenth year on this Earth, I find myself reflecting on the immense gift our family was given when she entered into our life. A gift I was initially too grief-stricken, too shallow to fully appreciate. And I find myself beyond thankful for all the blessings that we’ve witnessed as she’s blossomed into a young woman.

In a Society filled with materialism, Allah blessed me with a daughter who cares not for the pressures of conforming to the latest must-haves and must-dos.

In a Society filled with insecure girls obsessed with their weight and body image, Allah blessed me with a daughter who is comfortable in her own skin, who cares not for scales and sizes.

In a Society filled with fake vapid ‘influencers’ being sold as ‘role models’ Allah blessed me with a daughter whose greatest hero will always be Emma from The Wiggles.

In a Society filled with negativity and danger, with ugly words and unwarranted views, Allah blessed me with a daughter who is the happiest person I know, who cares nothing for the irrelevant opinions of strangers.

In a Society filled with corruption and peer-pressure, with drugs, alcohol, licentiousness and rebellion, Allah blessed me with a daughter whose greatest vice is her perchant for Kinder Surprise Eggs.

And in a Society filled with domestic violence, gaslighting, narcissistic spouses, and relationship breakdowns, Allah blessed me with a daughter who will only know love and kindness from those around her, inshaAllah.

So, Society, it’s true my Mariam may never participate in that perilous lottery called Marriage. She may never go to University. She may never receive awards or do the ‘great’ things worthy of your recognition. And you know what? That’s perfectly fine with me.

For what greater gift can a mother dream of, than to have a daughter who is comfortable in her own skin, and immune to the toxic effects of your pressures? And what greater blessing, than to have a daughter who knows only the language of inherent kindness, a girl who is an inhabitant of Jannah on this Earth, happy, loved and cherished?

– Sara Hassan

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