A paediatric physiotherapist uses social media to alleviate sufferings of the special child and influence her work.
Aleeza Hasan has been able to create awareness on subjects that are often hushed up.
She works among children with disabilities in Muscat, using every opportunity to influence opinion and dispels their negative and derogatory image.
Since 2012 she has been practising with ‘special’ children sharing her wide experiences. She aims to make them ‘normal’ and strives to include them to be part of the community.
“Children with disabilities are assumed deaf, dumb or mute. They are treated unequally, looked down and stared at. Along with a lack of concern and humility towards the family, people are misconstrued by their general notion or lack of knowledge,” she says.
For parents of a special child, Aleeza admits, the initial phase could be soul-crushing when the child grows. They are faced with hopelessness and despair about the child’s future. There will be anxiety about how he or she will be looked at by family and friends.
Being a social media influencer has given her opportunity to shape and influence audience opinion on various issues through her blog.
Aleeza sees it as part of her job to educate the community about the needs of a child who may be perceived as ‘different’. This, she says, is much more than the diagnosis or the ‘label’ attached to them.
Working with Association of Early Intervention for Children with Disability in Al Athaibah, has helped her deal with a wide spectrum of conditions and disorders like Down Syndrome (DS), autism or Developmental Delay.
Omani kids Ezz al Balushi, Hood Abdul, Yazan al Hadabi and Celia Thaer al Awamleh are her ‘best friends’ whom she takes care of and enjoys intimate moments with them.
Thaer al Awamleh, father of Celia, admits his daughter has tremendously improved after undergoing physical training under Aleeza for Down Syndrome.
“Celia has changed our vision for many things in life as we have looked to her with love from the beginning,” says Thaer.
While Hanooy al Abri admits having a Down Syndrome baby in Hood Abdul was ‘challenging.’
“I am figuring out how to balance work and taking care of my baby. I try to attend therapy sessions and apply exercises at home. I keep him busy with toys, music, TV, playing with his dad so as to keep him engaged.”
Hood’s father helps her a lot in raising him in smart and effective ways. “Hood is the first child for us and we are proud to have him in our life,” she adds.
Aleeza busts some of the myths concerning special children.
These relate to how children with special needs are mentally handicapped or hyperactive child has Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) and an anti-social child means having autism.
“Children with special needs experience difficulty in physical movement, learning, communication or interaction. Not all have low intelligence. Majority of them have an average to above average IQ. Most kids in special education do not have severe disabilities,” she explains.
The majority of students fit into the category of ‘specific learning disability’ which means kids who have reading issues like dyslexia, or math issues like dyscalculia.
To determine if a child has ADHD or ASD, professional diagnosis is required which is where she steps in.
Aleeza advises giving more time so they grow out of it eventually.
This can further hinder the child’s learning process as the delay can set the course for the child to develop mental health issues. They are unable to express themselves which lead to low self-esteem, frustration, anxiety and childhood depression.
“Why do we look at them differently?”
Her message to parents of special children is: “You don’t have to love the condition to love your child. Focus on the life in your hands, and surely not the label.” This is also the message she tries to promote through social media.
Aleeza pursued her Bachelors in Physiotherapy and sub-specialised in Paediatrics from Terna Physiotherapy College, Mumbai.
Social media has necessitated her to create awareness on subjects that were often hushed.
Through Instagram handle, Wanderingmumdiaries, Aleeza shares her experiences of being a full-time mom and adventure stories as a globetrotter.