Once upon a time there was a little engine who thought it could. And one day it decided to take on a few extra cars and take them over a big hill. It started out nice and slow and was chugging along (I think I can, I think I can!) and it slid back a few times but was still chugging away, and then one day, a powerful locomotive train appeared behind it and said ‘Hey, are you taking those cars over the hill?’ and the little engine said ‘Well, I’m trying to!’

And so the locomotive hitched itself to the little choo choo and floored the engine and the little engine suddenly found itself screaming up the hill with it’s cars practically streaming behind it, and the little engine went ‘AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!’

And that is the story of how AutismUAE, with business license barely applied for and website not yet updated, is receiving phone calls from parents who want their therapists yesterday and finalizing the itinerary for a tour of the GCC, the first trip of which will be in just two weeks. :s

My little choo-choo is being helped along by Stepping Stones Center for Autistic Spectrum Disorders, an organisation with four offices in three countries and a wonderful director who is excited about making ABA treatment affordable for kids in the entire GCC. And Pakistan. And any other country where the parents are willing to come to Dubai once a month for case management meetings. That’s all that’s required. AutismUAE will give you a therapist, Stepping Stones will give you a program and put a psychologist in charge of your child’s case, and you check back in with us once a month to make sure that everyone- child, therapist, parents- is doing well.

And the little engine that could looked at the proposal, and the fact that it had the word ‘Global’ written on it, and then it felt the sudden urge for a warm fluffy blanket and a cup of soup and a tiny cottage somewhere to enjoy them in.

Not that I’m not excited, I’m very excited. But I am nervous, over-busy, missing deadlines, behind in my “real job,” and learning much more about time management than I ever wanted to. Case in point: When was the last time my blog was updated? If I were to create a list of ‘work’ that I enjoy, I would put my blog at the top and the real job at the bottom. AutismUAE would be second and third would be Muslim Matters, though they could easily tie for second place. It would look like this:

1. Blog
2. AutismUAE
3. Muslim Matters
4. Real Job

Compare that to the list of things that are receiving top priority, which looks like this:

1. AutismUAE
2. Real Job
3. Muslim Matters
4. Blog

Even blogging right now makes me feel guilty, because I can see the number of unread messages in my gmail tab and I know that none of them are fluff and all of them are important. But I have to stop and breathe and think. And sometimes, I even have to write. Right now, as I sit here, Iman is determinedly putting one-dirham coins into my pockets, and with each one, singing out, “Here you go Momma!” And yesterday, when we asked Khalid what he wanted for lunch, he thought about it and said ‘Big burger!’ and we asked him how many and he said “-one- uh- ten burger!” and we had a beautiful laugh, and for lunch, Khalid had many tiny burgers instead of one big one.

And Iman’s back with a 25 fil coin and one US penny, and I should probably check where my purse is and where my two and a half year old is getting loose change. And Khalid and Iman have started to have arguments, which is amazing in terms of Khalid’s development, though infuriating from a parenting perspective. Iman and Khalid can be strapped into their individual car seats, sitting in silence, and Khalid will point to Iman and say, Iman! Stop Crying!

And Iman will defensively reply Iman not crying! Iman talking!

And Khalid will insist, Iman crying! Iman stop crying!

And then Iman will escalate and yell back- Iman not crying! Iman talking!

And Khalid will say No crying! No crying!

And of course, Iman will reply Iman not crying! but by this point, she will be crying.

One day passes beautifully, chaotically, unexpectedly and predictably into another, and before I know it I have 37 unread emails and a tour of the GCC. And I haven’t even printed my business cards.

And before you think I’m in over my head or I’m complaining (yes, I’m talking to myself) I am not complaining, I do not need to be rescued, and I am not going to give up without a fight. The express train of Stepping Stones is a blessing, because once upon a time my client base was zero, and now, in a space of three weeks, it’s international. I asked Allah, I prayed and said Dear God, if AutismUAE is the right thing to do then make it easy for me, and lo and behold, I’ve skipped over the problem of too few clients and jumped right into too many. I’ve been partnered with an international service provider before I’m even a licensed business, and just last night I had a phone call from a mother who said “We’re waiting please, when will the therapist get here?”

And none of this is from me, all of this is a blessing from Allah. Opportunities have appeared out of nowhere to land neatly in my hands. Now all I have to do is say Alhamdulillah, roll up my sleeves, and get to work.

I think I can, I think I can.



Abez is a 50% white, 50% Pakistani, and 100% Muslim. She is also chronically ill and terminally awesome. She is the ever-lovin Momma of: - Khalid, a special little boy with autism - Iman, a special little girl with especially big hair -Musfira, an especially devious baby Spoiler, Abez is also Zeba Khan on

  1. iMuslim

    Alhamdulillah, great news! However, please take your time. Don’t let excitedness lead to burn out. If you need to restrict your client base at the early stage then do so. It’ll only improve your service, so that you are in a better place to expand in a year’s time. Just my two British pence. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Mona

    I’m so excited.
    When you can, please take some time out for poor lil moi, and let’s go to the water park since the weather’s starting to get better. what say?

  3. Carol

    Wow, wow, wow!! says your college student/student teacher mother who also should not be reading blogs, but can’t help it. Go girl, but like the good advice in the 1st comment, reign it in if needed.

  4. Abez

    iMuslim, Momma- I know, just today HF was talking about a soft launch, quietly beginning services without doing any real marketing so that we can get our business processes streamlined and neatly in place before we invite a dozen new clients or so.

    I think it’s a good idea.

    Stranded: You move here and I’ll get you 60 hours of ABA a week for 13 dollars an hour. And our Khalids/Khaleds can go to KG1 together, with their shadow teachers, in a school that’s beginning mainstreaming for kids with autism just this year. Is this tempting you yet? I also made home-made strawberry ice-cream ๐Ÿ˜€

    Mona: I’ll call you babe!

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