Monday, December 19, 2011

Enough school holidays.... let's get back to class

We're finally having some winter weather here. Yesterday it rained all day and the weather is cold. The dogs huddled on the porch trying to stay warm and dry.  

Nora started back at university last week. She said the university is still a mess. She had hoped this would be her final semester but because there is a shortage of lecturers she has to take fewer classes and now it will add more time until she finishes. At least she is studying and the extra time will give her more time to think about the next step - master's. The other kids are still waiting and who knows when they will return to the classroom... January... March... Apparently there are still no books. No books, no school. What a mess.

We have to find a new school for Ibrahim because his old school has no students for fourth grade this year... School for Ibrahim is a big problem. There are no schools that specialize in teaching kids with autism. If we put him in a regular school the teachers have no time to focus on his needs. Another option are schools for the mentally retarded - but he's not retarded! We recently had him re-evaluated and the 'specialist' suggested sending him to the mosque to study but we are afraid the shaikh will just abuse him. Libya has no national organization for autism. My husband's looking into options and researching what other parts of the Arab world are doing - maybe we can start something here. If you're interested in helping us start something for kids with autism in Libya please let me know.

In the meantime we are looking for a school with small class sizes and a patient teacher. Ibrahim is bored and very tired of staying home. He needs to be in a classroom. Until then my husband and I have been taking turns doing 'life skills' stuff with him and getting him into as many social situations as possible. A constant change of scenery is good for him. A few weeks ago he went through a popcorn phase - he made every kind of popcorn you could imagine! He went through 4 kilos of popcorn in two weeks... he was making popcorn in the middle of the night.  Popcorn, popcorn, popcorn.... I never thought I'd get tired of popcorn. Thank God we finally ran out!


  1. It sounds very much as if Ibrahim is on the high-functioning end of the autistic spectrum -if indeed he is autistic. Don't want to be nosy, but is it Asperger's syndrome? Has what you would feel is a reliable diagnosis been made? The 'specialist's' recommendation about his studying at the mosque didn't sound very appropriate! It sounds as if you and your husband are doing a great job eg in life skills, and by exposing Ibrahim to a variety of social situations. It might be helpful to find out if there are other parents with children similar to Ibrahim who might participate in a self-help group of some kind - even talking about shared experiences can be positive. But I don't know how easy this would be in the current Libyan medical and social context. Do you have to stick with this 'specialist', or are there others? Anyway, wishing you and your family all the best for 2012, and thank you for your incredible blogging which gives such valuable human insights into what goes on.
    PS if of interest, novelist Nick Hornby spoke in this in interview on how he and other parents founded a school in UK for their autistic children in London - :

  2. Yes he's got high functioning Asperger's. They are capable of diagnosing this here it's just what to do afterwards. I think the specialist's reasons were more for the social aspect of the Quran school as well as the educational aspect. He's behind other kids his age in school - and having a year off because of the war isn't helping. We also have the problem that we live on a farm that's kind of isolated so Ibrahim doesn't get much opportunity to be with boys his own age. We are constantly trying to keep Ibrahim occupied. He often gets obsessed with things (like the popcorn) so we try to keep him busy.

    There are lots of kids in Libya that are autistic. Most families just try to deny it exists. There are no facilities especially for autism and teachers are not trained to teach these children - or to even spot their problems.

    He's 13 now so I don't know how much a play group would help.

    Thanks for the link to Nick Hornby.

  3. Thanks for your clarifications; I hope my questions/comments hadn't been too intrusive. I can see the relative isolation of the farm and the disruption (to put it mildly) of the war haven't helped. I hope your opening up of the subject may encourage more discussion and open up some possible education choices. I loved your story about the popcorn! - what an endearing character he is.
    Wishing you all the best.

  4. I found your blog about a year ago and very much enjoy your postings.

    Here are two links that you might find interesting. Although they probably won't be much help in your immediate quest to find services for your son, there are many organizations mentioned throughout these sites that might have the kind of information you are seeking.

    Center for Excellence in Autism Research

    Autism Gateway:

    It must be very frustrating trying to find appropriate services for your son. I wish you the best.

  5. I go onto to the special needs section to read about autism. It has been a great help to me.

  6. This special aid school situation has always been a big problem here in Libya. You would think (HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!) that the Libyan government would have devised a school for children with learning disabilities by now wouldn't you , or at least some sort of program for them .Sigh ! We were lucky we lived in the US when our sons went to school.The school district is obliged to have a program for learning challenged children .I applaud yours and your husbands patience and dedication in helping your son to be come all that he can be.Life isn't easy but it can be pretty exciting at times huh? Popcorn ,lol!

  7. I was waiting for my son in a public library and cam across your blog totally by accident. I write one called extremely rarely. I keep vowing to write more frequently but such is life. It was inspiring to hear about you blogging in Libya on Dial-up. I wish you all the best in finding something appropriate for Ibrahim.

  8. Salaam :)

    I'm interested in lending a helping hand. I'll be back in libya next month inshaAllah.

  9. Here are some articles regarding recent developments in autism research with links to further resources.

    "Inside an Autistic Mind" and

    "Unlocking Autisms Mysteries"


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