Early intervention and love made all the difference, she says, ahead of global event. 

 

Dubai: “Having a Down syndrome child is a blessing,” according to this Emirati mother.

Wadha Al Mutawaa, 44, mother of six, including a 17-year-old with Down syndrome, said parents with children of determination learn to love and give more.

The Down syndrome boy Dhahi Al Awar, studying in Year 10 at GEMS Wellington Academy – Silicon Oasis, is the apple of his mother’s eye. And she and her husband have left no stone unturned to make things work for their son.

“Nothing is impossible. When you put your love and mind to anything – it all works to your advantage,” she said.

Dhahi will be seen in a video presentation at the World Down Syndrome Congress 2021 to be held in Dubai in November.

Wadha said this could not have been achieved without support.

Wadha and her husband Nasser Al Awar, who have extensively researched about dealing with a child with Down syndrome, know exactly what Dhahi needs to be independent.

“It has been a great learning. More importantly, I have learnt to love in a special way. I feel like my heart has grown multi-folds in these past years as Dhahi has taught us as a family to love and bond together” she said.

Her other children, Khalfan, 22, Afifa, 19, Nahyan, 13, Falah, 11, and even baby Zayed, just two-and-a-half years, bond well with Dhahi.

“Three days after I delivered Dhahi, we knew he was a Down syndrome child. It came as a shock to us. You don’t expect this to happen to you. But my husband was my rock. He supported me and our child all the way. We gathered all information about Down syndrome. We got in touch with different associations in the world. We hired a massage therapist for our baby when he was two weeks old itself. So we began the process of providing the physical support he needed right from the beginning.”

She said the therapist massaged his tongue and face regularly. “Today he does not put his tongue out. Besides, his facial features have also improved greatly thanks to the regular massage treatment.”

Wadha said when Dhahi was young, she and her husband attended workshops on Down syndrome and how to deal with them. “They gave me a lot of hope. Remember, as parents we need all the support we can get. And these workshops help with that.”

She said that by the time Dhahi was five months old, she had enrolled him into an early learning centre. “My advise to parents is to train your child with Down syndrome as early on as possible. We put our son in occupational and speech therapy when he was really young. We also bought a lot of learning tools and materials so we could provide the best for him.”

Dhahi coming out stronger than ever

Wadha said Dhahi has been through a lot but has come out stronger than ever. “He was only three months old when he had to undergo a heart surgery. When he was one, his speech therapy began. We initially trained him to understand and communicate in sign language.”

Dhahi’s first two years were spent in a regular school. After that, his parents put him in a special needs centre so he could pick up on essential subjects like Maths, Science and English. Today, he is a successful Year 10 student at GEMS Wellington Academy.

Wadha said it is critical for families to stay in tandem while raising a child with Down syndrome. “Families, friends, educational institutions and learning centres must all come together not just to support a child with Down syndrome, but also the families.”

Is it expensive to raise a child with Down syndrome?

“Not necessarily. There is a lot of support, materials, research available online to help a parent deal with a child of Down syndrome. My advise to parents is that they should not depend on just one special centre for their child. Enrol your child in different centres. So there is more learning.” (Source: Gulf News)