He’s Your Path to Paradise

Life in Saudi Arabia with a child that has cerebral palsy is generally very tranquil, and you need not start altercations because of callous remarks. You get kind, caring people who stop you on the street and say, ‘He’s your path to paradise. May Allah bless him,” and people who are indifferent and only stare at Yasin. But they all share one belief – that it’s God’s will for a child to have special needs, and as a result of that, they are accepting of them. Anyway, it’s usual for people here to see children with special needs, and so, they don’t really pay much attention to them.

In Indonesia, it’s a vastly different story. At the swimming pool one day, a kindly old woman said, ‘Oh, it makes me so sad to see children like this. You can just massage him – there, and there,” she said pointing to his arms and legs. As if neurological disorders could be overruled by massages. They might help, and we do massage him occasionally during Occupational Therapy sessions, but it’s not a cure. There are not that many special needs awareness programs in Indonesia, and people still have superstitious beliefs that cause them to back away from special needs children, so perhaps it would be well if we just developed thicker skin. Another, not so very kind woman asked my mother, ‘Can he walk yet?’ and when we said no, she ran away as if her life depended on her not being infected with cerebral palsy. But I can’t generalize.

What has your experience been raising a special needs child in your country?