Finding strength in weakness

April 02,2018

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There are few things that have a significant impact on life. For me, one of those things has been having the opportunity to work with some of the most amazing people. Coming from a Psychology background I decided to explore a new field. I wasn’t sure what I was getting into but I still joined a renowned organization as a Behavior Therapist two years ago. On December 2015, I got the chance to work as an Intern Behavior Analyst at Shifa International Hospital. Ms Haleema Sadia (Autism Specialist) is running Autism and ABA service in Shifa International Hospital since 2013. Prior to this, I had limited experience of working with children who had special needs. From the very beginning, I developed keen interest in this field, and while observing the sessions, I learnt a lot from Ms Haleema Sadia and Ms. Bushra Jameel, they are my real mentors. Gradually I started participating in ABA sessions, and soon after completion of my training, I started taking independent ABA sessions. While working as an ABA therapist at SIH I came across some quite challenging behaviors in children, Such as self injurious behavior, aggression, hyperactivity, noncompliance. Most of the children I was working with were non-verbal, which became a daunting task at times as they used to kick, hit, bite, spit and even pull my hair but all that never frustrated me. I realized that these kids had no other way to communicate. They were trying to communicate something to me and it was my job to try to help them by responding and redirecting them in different areas. It was amazing to see a non-verbal child uttering his/her first word, a non compliant child following your commands, giving you eye contact and the list goes on. Our efforts in right direction can show remarkable results in these children and that was a priceless feeling. These children live in their own world, and if you enter their world you realize how beautiful and different their world is. The way they see things. the way they do things, and the way they understand and learn new things is way different from ours. While working with them, you get really attached to them and their families. It is also because they can only progress if parents and professionals work hand in hand. Looking back at my life, I recall myself as an impatient young girl. It was only after I worked with these children that I discovered a different side ofmyself. It taughtme patience, humbleness, open mindedness, flexibility, compassion and being non-judgmental. Currently I am working at Autism Resource Centre Islamabad, and I am lucky enough to work again under the supervision of my mentor Ms. Haleema Sadia as she is Director at ARCI. She is one of the most dedicated people working for this cause. Every day I am learning new things from her: she is an inspiration for me, and I would love to learn more from her. At ARCI, I am working as Coordinator, and I am extremely grateful for working in the management team for such a noble cause. Being an ABA therapist ismy first passion hence i continue to provide Behavior Therapy sessions after my official work hours. The love, affection and attachment these children show towards me and my fellows cannot be expressed in words. They taught me the actual meaning of love and made it clear that love needs no words. I can say with complete confidence that nothing has influenced me the way that group of kids has. I only wish they could know how much they taught me and how much theymean tome.We are blessed to have them. In fact, working with these kids helped me realize what I wanted to pursue as a career and I could see myself working with these very special individuals for the rest of my life.****

Fatima Sarwar, Coordinator/ Behavior Therapist—Autism Resource Centre Islamabad


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