What a better way to start the day than with a talent show? Today, we woke up early to prepare for siblings and parents support session, where our team members got the chance exhibit their talents and artistic skills. Sarah climbed the walls of our apartment to show us some of her climbing tricks, Qiess displayed his professional drawing skills, and Melissa played the “Cups” song using a glass, a small table, and her own fists while Amal sang the song along, and I taught the group how to make origami butterflies.
After this refreshing and entertaining start, we headed to the center to meet with the parents and siblings of children with autism. We started the session by reviewing the performance of the participants in last week’s assignment, “Try to Fail”. It was phenomenal to hear stories about how the members of the community in Mersin are willing to help children with special needs, especially children with autism. “I went to a local pharmacy and asked the pharmacist to fill up the water bottle for Reema and told her that my child has autism. The pharmacist smiled at Reema and filled the bottle up.” Lama told us. However, the goal of the challenge was collecting as many fails as possible, so we asked the families to do the challenge this week as well. Then, we introduced the theme of this session, which was looking into the skills and needs of the siblings and parents and finding a way to integrate them into supporting children with autism. The first activity was about the challenges and difficulties they face with their sibling/ child with autism. Participants were asked to write the challenges on two scraps of papers, crumble them, then throw them in the center of the room. Next, every sibling/parent chose two challenges they personally relate to and shared with others how they overcame those challenges and learnt from them. “When I want to play with football, and my sister wants to play with the ball, I play with her so we can both enjoy.” Reema’s brother said, 9 years old.
The second activity for this session was drawing a tree, where the roots of the tree are the six strengths of the participants, the trunk people who influenced them to develop those strengths, and the leaves are how those strengths are manifested in situations in their lives. We discovered that most of our siblings and parents are very artsy and have many unique skills. “My patience is manifested in enduring my daughter, Haya, screaming all night.” Haya’s mother commented when she was asked about her strengths. “I am sympathetic. I also love people who sympathize with my brother. I love my brother.” Ali’s sister, 5 years old said. “A Global Voice for Autism was one of the things I wrote on my tree trunk.” Reema’s mother explained how this program impacted her.
In the next support session, parents and siblings will get the opportunity to display their talents and special skills in front of the other members of the support group. We can’t wait to see them unleash their talents and surprise themselves and us!