Ruby, 14, who suffers from Down Syndrome and Autism was granted an emergency pass to go for a bike ride by Dubai Police
Ruby, 14, who suffers from Down Syndrome and Autism was granted an emergency pass to go for a bike ride by Dubai Police Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: The mother of a determined child has thanked Dubai Police for bringing a smile to her daughter’s face.

Canadian expat Stephanie Hamilton said the police granted her a permit to take her daughter for a much-needed bike ride within minutes of her heartfelt appeal on social media.

Hamilton, whose daughter Ruby, 14, suffers from Down Syndrome and Autism had described the parental challenges she was facing because of COVID-19 restrictions in Dubai.

“Ruby asks on a daily basis ‘Can I go bike ride?’ She doesn’t understand why she can’t do her 500 metre loop around the block on her bike. She attacked me in the bathroom last week and has had some sort of physical lashing out nearly every day since we have had this change imposed,” Hamilton said in an Instagram post after her online application seeking an emergency pass for her daughter was rejected.

She also detailed how being sequestered at home for days had made her daughter prone to violent outbursts and self harm.

“It pains me to deal with a child who has gone from a typically happy/sometimes grumpy teenager to one that is depressed, anxious (constantly asking for hugs and lying on top of me), and aggressive to a point that it scares me,” she wrote in the post.

Hamilton said she had barely put out the post tagging Dubai Police, when an officer called her to explain the process of getting an emergency pass for people of determination.

“He was very kind and understanding. As it turned out, I had not quite adequately explained why I needed the pass for my daughter. Once I gave a detailed account online, the permit was approved and we were able to take Ruby out for her bike ride. She was overjoyed. The four minutes it took her to do her bike ride today made a world of a difference. We had been given an hour-long permit, but what essentially Ruby wanted was just a few minutes,” said Hamilton.

She said parents of children with determination should take a cue from her and explain in detail why they need a pass why they apply for similar permits.

Hamilton said she’s grateful to Dubai Police for their prompt response but felt it would be good if authorities considered issuing a visual indicator such as a lanyard or arm band . “This will help people know that we are not breaking the law by not “staying home,” she reasoned.

Sally Williams, clinical psychologist at kidsFIRST Medical Center, Dubai, said one of the issues facing many parents of children with special needs is that their children frequently have difficulties with change, sensory processing and following an agenda not of their own choosing. “This means that the simple act of not being able to go outside can lead to far greater stress on the individual and the family as it can lead to maladaptive ways of coping, such as aggression or absconding,” explained Williams.

“Whilst a pandemic undoubtedly has implications for all children, children on the autism spectrum, for instance, are at a particular disadvantage because they rely on rituals and structure to control their anxiety. They are less able to simply change their routines. In this time of change, their need to control their anxiety and maintain routine is paramount,” she said.