Abez sez Assalamualaikum!

Monthly Archives: August 2010

You are browsing the site archives by month.

Today is not that day.

One day, when I’m a grown up, I’m going to go to sleep at night at wake up in the morning.

Khalid woke up at 3:45. And Iman woke up at four. So it’s a party. Hooray! ūüėÄ

2am again, or, Why blogging in stream of consciousness should be done in full consciousness

SubhanAllah. ¬†It’s 2 am again. ¬† It turns out that the reason why Khalid has been cranky, fevery, and screamy all night for the past four nights is because he has a throat infection.

This is the fourth all-nighter that Khalid and I are pulling in the past four days. ¬†And I think I neglected to mention that he got his hand caught in an elevator earlier this week. ¬†An area of skin about the size of a quarter was scraped off from his right hand, and despite our attempts to keep it clean and well-bandaged, it turned gooey and yellow by the next day, and the fever immediately followed. ¬†So that’s when we took him to the ER at 2 in the morning.

Did I mention that we were in the ER earlier this week. ¬†It was at 2 in the morning. ¬†The doctor looked at his finger. ¬†But apparently, not at Khalid’s throat.

Today we saw the doctor again, because the finger was getting better but the fever was getting worse. ¬†The doctor took a look at Khalid’s finger as well as Khalid’s throat, and prescribed antibiotics.

Now, I’m pretty sure that even parents with neurotypical children have to battle their kids into taking the antibiotics, otherwise they wouldn’t be¬†camouflaged¬†with strawberry flavor and a pleasant fruity smell. ¬†With our collective powers combined, Joy, HF, and I begged, cajoled, bribed, attempted to coerce, and then eventually forced the¬†antibiotics¬†into Khalid’s mouth for two of his three doses for the day. ¬†You can guess how that went. ¬†By the time we had all had enough, Khalid needed hosing down, the sofas needed wiping off, and HF’s beard had a pleasant fruity smell. ¬† I sincerely hope that of the 10ml we put into Khalid’s mouth, at least 5 made it down.

I hope, InshaAllah, that Khalid is feeling better by tomorrow. ¬†My work productivity is zero, my email response time has shot up to one week , my brain feels like tofu, and I’m sure Khalid’s tired of waking up and screaming in the middle of the night. ¬†Poor thing. ¬†When he woke up two hours ago (midnight) HF and I had just gone to bed, and neither of us had fallen asleep yet. ¬†HF and I calmed him down and lay in bed hoping he would fall back asleep. ¬†HF eventually dozed off, but Khalid’s eyes remained open. ¬†I tried to fall asleep, and Khalid did a commendable job of staying in bed for over an hour, but after that, he’d had enough.

He got into my bed and took the pillow out from under my head. ¬†Then, he threw it. ¬†Then, he unwrapped the blanket from around me and threw that off as well. ¬†Next, he took me by the hand and started to pull. ¬†When that failed to get a response (I was pretending to be asleep) he took my head in both hands and began pulling. ¬†And then he said…


So here we are. ¬†Khalid is drinking wemonade and watching Super Why. ¬†There’s an hour and half before it’s time for me to wake up (heh) and make suhoor, so I’m attempting to fill it with productivity. ¬†After I’m done typing this mishmash of an update, I’ll answer some work email, attempt to finish a presentation on customer pyramids (BLAH!), and maybe sneak some of the cold pizza in the refrigerator. ¬†Don’t ask me about the cold breadsticks. ¬†They didn’t make it past 2:15.

It’s amazing how little we control our own lives. ¬†I mean this in a good way. ¬†No matter how much I intend, attempt, and fight for going to bed on time so I can wake up and stay up from Fajr, Allah has other plans for me. ūüôā ¬†This week, we’re on the night shift. ¬†Maybe when Khalid feels better our schedule will return to normal, but for now I can’t be sore about being nocturnal, despite how much it exhausts me and hamstrings my productivity. ¬†There are far worse things in the world. ¬†Alhamdulillah. ūüôā

Cold pizza, anyone?

It finally happened…

It was bound to happen at least once this Ramadan, though I was hoping it wouldn’t happen at all- HF and I did it this morning- we slept through suhoor and Fajr both. ¬†Not only did we miss Fajr prayer, we also missed the pre-dawn food and water that we’ve been heavily relying on for these 15 hour fasts in 40+ C heat. ¬†That’s 104 F for those of you who don’t think in Celcius. ¬†Yesterday that car told me it was 48. ¬†Then, I burned my fingers on the steering wheel. ¬† I believe the car.

SubhanAllah, what a blessing suhoor is.  For this Ramadan, HF and I have been starting our day with suhoor- not just waking up, eating, and praying, but getting dressed and going to work.  HF goes to his office, I open my laptop and clock in- I work from home- and then we stay up until the afternoon.  I take a nap at around 1 pm, HF naps when he gets back from the office at around 3.  Then we break our fast with dinner, pray, hang out a bit, pray again, and then go to bed.

When HF suggested this schedule before Ramadan, I was reluctant to try it. ¬†In fact, he’s been suggesting we wake up at Fajr, nap in the day, and ¬†go to bed after Isha for quite a while, but I resisted because I believed that it wouldn’t be enough sleep for me and I would be exhausted. ¬†In actuality, I’m loving the Fajr to Isha schedule. ¬†Yes, it puts a bit of a dent in my social life, but I don’t have much of one anyone anyway, and I don’t want much of one in Ramadan. ¬†I’m not big on social iftars. ¬†The variety of foods tricks me into overeating through curiosity, and then we don’t get home until 11, which makes waking up again at 3:45 quite a challenge. ¬†That’s exactly what happened yesterday. ¬†We had a lovely time, but we ate too much, stayed up too late, and messed up our schedules for the next day. ¬†Considering that Ramadan only comes once a year, I can’t say it was worth it. ¬†Even if there was caramel custard. ¬†:p

So today, I’m hungry. ¬†SubhanAllah, I’m not complaining. I’m reminding myself what a blessing food and drink are, and how kind of Allah it was to make suhoor part of the fast. ¬†I’m also reminding us all that there are people in Pakistan right now who are fasting without suhoor and breaking their fasts without food.

There are 35 minutes left until iftar, and the kitchen is exuding the fragrances of haleem and biryani- I do batch-cooking in Ramadan so that I don’t have to cook every day. ¬†My stomach is turning itself in knots, and my mouth has that gluey feeling. ¬†May Allah increase us all in patience, and help us gain control over our physical urges to put our spiritual selves first. ¬†May Allah feed those who are hungry, give drink to those who are thirsty, and increase us all in gratitude for His favors. ¬†Ameen. ūüôā

So, who wants some pizza in their pocket?  :p

A culmination of hope and fear- AutismUAE.com

I’m about to do one of the scariest things I have done in my entire life. ¬†On purpose I mean. ¬† I’m scraping together all my savings, which isn’t much and is quite slow to recover, and I am buying a business license. ¬†I am opening a business to help provide affordable autism therapy and case management support for children in the GCC, and maybe even Pakistan if anyone from there asks.

I feel nervous just writing this, because making it public means I can’t go back. ¬†As if it isn’t public already, I had my first meeting today with an autism center here in Dubai to draft an agreement so we can work together. ¬†They will provide case management services and I will provide live-in therapists for families whose children need ABA therapy, school shadowing, or full-time care. ¬† I began laying the groundwork for this almost a year ago when I bought the domain- AutismUAE.com. ¬†Since then I’ve only managed to¬†occasionally¬†populate it with autism news, because I’ve been afraid to carry it forward as well too busy with work to pursue the business plan seriously. ¬†Basically, I had been waiting to have the time for AutismUAE. ¬†Now, I understand that I have to make the time, and I will have to quit some of my design clients in order to focus on its development.

I’ll be losing a source of income as well as digging a huge hole to pour money into. ¬†I’m hoping that money will be the seed for something that grows into something great, but I’m a bit of a timid gardener. ¬†I’m worried- not only because I will be financially bound to maintain the cost of my business license, but I will also be responsible for the health, welfare, safety and security of ABA therapists who could be dispatched anywhere, depending on where there is a family in need. ¬† As an employer and a Muslim, I need to make sure their contracts are equitable, that their working conditions are safe, that they are treated with dignity and respect when so many ‘domestic employees’ in the world are treated like animals. ¬†I have to make very, very sure that these therapists- who hold bachelors degrees in psychology and special education and occupational therapy are treated with the importance that they maintain in the child’s future. ¬†I have lots of faith in God but little faith in mankind in general. ¬†Even Joy, Khalid’s therapist, has spent over two months in the low-budget prison that is deportation because her previous employer was unhappy with her decision to move to another family (us) and dropped her off at the police station a day before her flight to Dubai with nothing but the clothes on her back.

She basically disappeared- her phone was taken away, we had no idea where she was, even her clothes were stolen. ¬†She lived in a crowded penal facility with almost a hundred other women who ate meager rations and divided themselves along racial lines, forming violent gangs in the desperate bid for self-preservation. ¬†And this isn’t prison, it’s deportation. ¬†Think Mad Max and anarchy, but with women crying themselves to sleep each night and living like ghosts because some official forgot their case and they have no way of contacting their families or reminding the world that they’re still in there.

And that is exactly what I don’t want to happen to my therapists, my people. ¬†I haven’t even hired them yet, but already I’m shaking at the thought of being asked by Allah what I did to protect them, whether I made sure they were going to families that were safe. ¬†I am relieved, extremely relieved, that at the meeting with the other autism center the director agreed to the term that I felt was most important- that if the families should mistreat or neglect my therapists, that all services with the family, from both my organisation and hers, would be terminated, and the family would be blacklisted. ¬†There are limited resources in the UAE- the other center is one of only two credible ABA therapy providers in the UAE, and if you want your child to have a future, then you better make sure you treat your therapist with respect and honor your contract.

In an autism therapy center where the visas are with the company and the therapists live in their own homes, there is very little danger of abuse. ¬†They go home when their hours are over and if they have problems, the company is legally bound to honor all exit clauses. ¬†In the case of a private visa, the sponsor is unaccountable, and the employees are strangers in a strange land, with no shelter except in the house of their employer. ¬†Which is why domestic workers the world over are so badly abused- there is no government authority to protect them, and they become prisoners in their employer’s homes without phone or internet access, and often without wages for months at a time. ¬†Sometimes even without food.

May Allah protect us all from such evil, such injustice from one human to another, and hear the prayers of the oppressed against their oppressors.

Scary. ¬†It’s so scary that I convince myself to abandon the entire business idea at least twice a week. ¬†I tell myself that I don’t need this accountability, this terror of being responsible for people that I can’t see, this nagging fear that something will happen to someone that I was responsible for, and they’ll be hurt or abused, or thrown into deportation where people lose their mind. ¬†But then Khalid climbs into my lap and gives me a kiss. ¬†Or asks to hold my hand. ¬†Or smiles proudly because he can add two plus three and he knows he got the answer right. ¬†And the cause of this progress is Allah, the Most Merciful, but the catalyst for this progress is Joy. ¬†She is there in the background, prompting, teaching, guiding Khalid through his program, working with him twelve hours a day with patience and epic perseverance- when Khalid is having a melt-down, it’s her he pinches and hits, because the principles of our¬†behavioral¬†intervention say I should walk away, and Joy should walk Khalid to the corner until he calms down.

I thank Allah for Joy, and I wish every family who needed someone like her could afford to have her in their lives. ¬†And when I have the ability to make that possible for children throughout the Gulf, it’s selfish of me to not to. ¬†I want for other families what I have myself- I want for their children what I want for mine- a future.

And I know what I don’t want- I don’t want children to be left behind because their parents don’t make more than twenty thousand dirhams a month, which is around 5,500 US dollars- and that’s how much families spend on average for a moderate ABA therapy regime. ¬†That’s moderate. ¬†Therapy starts at 50 dollars an hour, because it’s a highly specialized, one-on-one teaching model that requires repetition, repetition, repetition. ¬†A good ABA program is 40 hours a week.

Forty hours a week, a fifty dollars an hour.  You do the math.  You tell me whether only rich people have autistic children.  And then tell me whether only their kids deserve a chance to learn their own names.

We switched autism centers recently, and it wasn’t actually by choice. ¬†We were failing to meet a ten-hour a week minimum for ABA therapy, and were only going for an hour a week for Joy to check-in with a senior therapist for any questions she may have had. ¬†We also saw the Case Manager- a behavioral¬†psychologist- only on a quarterly basis- but because we had Joy at home giving Khalid ten hours a day, we were making phenomenal progress. ¬† Khalid didn’t need any more center-based therapy because he was getting all the intensive therapy he needed at home. ¬†And to be honest, we couldn’t afford to pay both Joy and the center’s ten hours. ¬†And I told the director very flatly- that if it came to a choice between Joy or the center, I would pick Joy, because my obligation as a parent was to Khalid, and to getting the most treatment for him possible with the limited resources I have. ¬†And I asked if they would keep us anyway.

And they said no.

And I asked what parents did if they couldn’t afford the ten hour minimum.

And the¬†director¬†said “They never begin services with us.”

I wrote her and the case manager an email asking her whether the center was there to support the children or the children were there to support the center. ¬†She has yet to reply. ¬†It’s been well over two months.

So we left. ¬†And we walked to the other center, right up the hall, and started with them instead. ¬†And I don’t like to name names, but I do want to talk about Stepping Stones Center for Autistic Spectrum Disorders. ¬†They have no hourly minimum, and if you tell them your budget, they’ll work very hard to make sure they can help you help your child in whatever way they can. ¬†And that’s why I will be partnering with them to provide home therapists to families who don’t have access to center-based therapy, either because there isn’t a center in their country- like Oman, Kuwait, or Bahrain, or because their center is so prohibitively expensive that it may as well not be there- like Dubai.

On a side note, insurance companies refuse to give a bent nickel for autism therapy. ¬†If Khalid got hurt and sustained brain damage, they would have to pay for his hospitalization. ¬†But he was born with brain damage, so we’re left on our own with no financial support whatsoever.

So, my name is Abez and welcome to my soap box.  Give me a hand up, will you?


I believe that all children on the autism spectrum deserve a fighting chance at recovery, and neither financial status nor location should be a barrier to a child’s potential.  If there is a limit to what a child can learn, let it be set by God, who created his or her brain and knows what it is capable of.

Please make dua for me, that Allah purify my intentions and make this endeavor a halal source of income, a good deed, and a sadqa jaariya for me.  I seek refuge in Allah from shaitaan, and from the paralysis of fear, and from the lure of profit and greed, and I ask Allah to let this business be a help for children and parents in need.  Allah, please protect my therapists, keep them safe and well-cared for, and let their experience in Muslim households be a beautiful introduction to Islam and the high standard of human ethics that You have set for Your slaves.

Ameen, Ameen, Ameen.

Boy, talk about tough love!

Khalid used an entire bottle of sunblock to finger paint my bedroom with, here I am pouting about it online to HF:

Me: Khalid painted the room in sunblock.


Me: sigh.
I am really mad and trying to remember that he is creative and funny and pleasant smelling
but the carpet has lost color in some places

HF: he is hilarious

Me: and the floor is greasy

HF: is he ok?
did he eat any?

Me: he’s alright.
he smells really nice, heh

HF: and perfect for the park!
he’s exploring
this is a good thing

Me: well, he is on his way to the park right now
and he used up all the awesome lip balm nizreen gave me

HF: better then him being a vegetable
can you imagine that?

ok, point taken ūüôā

I think he’s trying to tell me something.

Both kids have been sick for the past two days, it’s 3:45 in the morning right now, and Khalid has been up since 11:30 last night. He spent most of the night crying and kicking and thrashing around, angry because he couldn’t sleep. The rest of the night was spent in jumping on me and entertaining himself once he realized he wasn’t sleepy any more. Right now, he’s running between the two arm chairs in the living room, throwing himself face-first onto each one and then quickly doing a 180 and running to the opposite chair to do the same. It’s been a weird night. Momma is very, very tired. Momma has a headache. Momma is cranky. But Momma is ok. Because Khalid had a good point. He opened the refrigerator. He picked up a lemon. He handed it to me and said “Oh, wemonade?”


Maybe AntSlayer has a better ring?

Ramadan Kareem!

As everything in Dubai must either be the world’s biggest, best, or most deserving of a superlative, here we have the world’s hottest, burningest ant bites. Iman was bit by an ant a few weeks ago- I heard her scream from halfway across the house and ran to find her clawing at her foot as an obviously stepped-on ant tried to make a feeble getaway. Iman kept crying ‘Hot! Momma, ow foot!’ and we spent some time sitting on the edge of the sink and running her foot under cool water. I’ve had one of those ant bites before, they really are intensely, shockingly painful, and they burn for hours.

Shortly after the bite, any ant Iman saw resulted in her running away and calling for reinforcements- “Oh no!! Ant!” And then Momma would come to the rescue with a shoe, and half the time Momma would come to rescue Iman from ant-like pieces of lint, but it was a good system. Iman would sound the alarm and I would send in the cavalry. And when the ant was gone, Iman would earnestly recount the story of what just happened, being sure to include the phrase ‘ant scawy!’ a few times for emphasis.

Fast forward to this evening- Iman came running up the hall with a sippy-cup of milk in her hands and to deliver an important message:

Iman: Momma! Ants inna milk! Livingwoom!

Me: What? Ants? In milk?

(I look around. I don’t see any ants in any milk, and we’re already in the living room.)

Iman (nodding): Ya. Milk. Livingwoom Ants!

Me (I look at her suspiciously): Show Momma.

Iman leads me up the hall to the play room and points to the floor, where I find two ants drowning. On the floor. In tiny puddles of milk.

I look at Iman.
I look at her sippy-cup.

Evidence would suggest that as punishment for previous crimes against Imanity, the ants were sentenced to death by drowning, one drop at a time, from the supposedly spill-proof sippy cup of doom.

Iman looks to me for approval.
I nod at her and she nods back.
A warrior is born.
And henceforth, they called her AntBane.

Oh, and Ramadan Kareem! ūüėÄ

JazakAllahuKheiran, Yasir Qadhi -or- Have you stopped beating your wife yet?

For nearly a year ago, delivering a lecture in Dubai where he posed three questions commonly asked by atheists to argue against the existence of God, one of which was:

If God is all-powerful, can God make a rock so heavy that he can’t lift it?

I was actually asked this question by a co-worker over dinner the night before, and instead of replying with the ‘wha-?’ that went through my head the first time I heard it, I was able to smile and give the answer. See, the questions is a logical fallacy. It is constructed in a way that guarantees there is no answer that confirms God’s omnipotence. It’s like asking a man “So, have you stopped beating your wife yet?”

If you say no, it means you’re still beating her. If you say yes, you’re admitting that you used to beat her.

To the God question, if you say no, then you’re saying that God is unable to create something of that size. If you say yes, then you’re saying that God is unable to lift a rock that he himself created.

So what’s the correct answer? The correct answer is this: God can create infinitely large objects and lift infinitely large objects, rocks or otherwise. And just because he CAN do something doesn’t mean He will. He’s not illogical, even though that question is.

There were two other questions, but I can only remember one of them, which was: Can God create a triangle with more than three sides?

God could create a shape with more than three sides and He could call it whatever He wanted and you could call it a square or a pentagon or a hexagon or if it made you happy, a dodecahedron. A triangle is, by your definition, a shape with three sides. If you still want to call something with more than three sides a triangle, then that’s your problem, not God’s.

So, does anyone remember the third question?