The mother of an autistic child has spoken of the necessity to raise awareness for families who have children with additional needs.

Husneara Begum, from Manchester, uses her Instagram account, @husneara_b to post videos and pictures of her autistic 15 year-old son, Uzayr Ali, to communicate candidly how their life as a family is.

Husneara, a visual merchandiser, said, “My son was diagnosed with autism when he was two-years-old.

“My husband and I embraced it and we explored how we can give him the best opportunity in life and help him reach his potential. 

“We didn’t see it as an obstacle but rather a new challenge.

“I use Instagram to share our life and talk openly about Uzayr’s autism.

“This is important to me because I believe you should not hide away regardless of what your needs are or what your appearance is.

“By using social media, I can show how normal our life is. 

“Also I feel that our children with additional needs should not be seen or treated differently. This is the reason why I use Instagram to post videos and pictures of my child so that I can raise awareness. 

“We should never let anything limit our capabilities.”

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Dr Sarah Bargiela, clinical psychologist and author of ‘Camouflage: The Hidden Lives of Autistic Women’ said, “Many people still think autistic people are either non-verbal or have an exceptional skill, like in Rain Man.” Husneara reiterated this saying, ‘society sees autism within a box.

“After Uzayr’s diagnosis, it was hard at first as we were not aware of what autism was as we did not have any experience of it before. It was a shock but also confusing at times.

“We did try to research it, but at the time there was limited information available.
“Our family was wonderful as we had help from them in supporting Uzayr and being patient with him. 

“My youngest sister was in college at the time studying health studies level 3. She understood Uzayr really well and that was really helpful to us.

“The community support was not good and that is not limited to the Asian community.

“We found there was not much out there to support families who have children with additional needs and there was not much help available for us to offer our child or for us as parents.

“I felt that society sees autism within a box.

“Many people have misunderstandings about autism.

“I want people to see it as a development difference, not a disorder.”

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Support from school, Husneara says, has been unparalleled and the assistance was gratifying.

“School has been phenomenal. Our son loves his school.

“From nursery to secondary school, the support we received has been great.

“The teachers support the child and parents in every way they can. 

“They liaise with the parents to provide the best care and help they can give. They work closely with every child to meet their daily targets and needs.”

Husneara said she is committed to changing attitudes towards autism within the Asian community.

“Subjects like autism are not often discussed openly within the Asian community. 

“I believe this comes from a lack of understanding.

“I am hoping to change this by organising events in the future which will raise awareness for families with children with additional needs.

“I am using social media in my own way to show the positive contributions that people with autism can make. 

“By increasing society's understanding of autism, I can help to move away from stereotypes and to make clear the many strengths autistic people bring to society.”

This feature appeared in the June Issue of Asian Life here