‘Yes I Can!’ presents Mai Mohammed’s experience with her daughter Layan, and acceptance of her disability on the International Day of Disabled Persons Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: As part of the Al Dhafra Book Festival 2023, organised by the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre (ALC) till December 10, in the Al Dhafra region, a humanitarian lecture titled ‘Yes I Can!’ was held on stage at the Public Park in Zayed City.

During the lecture, Mai Mohammed, a mother of a child of determination, shared her experience, starting from the discovery of her child’s disability to the point of acceptance. The lecture was organised in collaboration with the Zayed Higher Organisation for People of Determination to mark the International Day of Disabled Persons, which falls on 3 December of every year.

Afaf Radi from the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre moderated the discussion, noting that dealing with children with disabilities is a challenging experience for all mothers - however, what sets one mother apart from another is how they overcome the associated challenges and difficulties.

Stages of a mother’s journey

Drawing on her experience in dealing with her daughter Layan, Mai explained that there are stages a mother goes through, starting from noticing abnormal behaviours or symptoms in the child, searching for the cause, discovering the disability, and reaching a stage of accepting the reality and living with it, and then overcoming the difficulties and obstacles that accompany the treatment journey.

She talked about her daughter Layan, who has Rett Syndrome – a rare condition that affects only females – and brought attention to the symptoms and information related to this disability, in order to raise awareness. She then discussed the difficulties that accompanied the process of diagnosing this issue, as well as accepting there is a disabled child living at home and discussing this idea in public.

Mai emphasised the value of the support that comes from friends, family, and the community of People of Determination, in addition to the social and government assistance from various centres and organisations.

Mai lauded the care and healing that people of determination in the UAE receive, highlighting the significant role of the Zayed Higher Organisation for People of Determination in supporting this segment of the community,training and empowering them to become a part of society, and developing their talents and abilities, supported by the various laws and legislation that guarantee their rights.

“In my experience as a mother, I say to all mothers, I can promote acceptance of people of determination in their family, and I can also provide support to every mother with a child living with a disability, to discover their skills and talents,highlight them to the community, and benefit from them,” she concluded.

‘Arabic Pals’

Afaf Radi spoke about the ‘Arabic Pals’ competition launched by the ALC, where people of determination were invited to participate and actively took part in the programme.

Shaikha Al Zaabi, Arts and Literature After-school Programmes Section Head at the ALC’s Arabic Language Education and Research, explained: “The Zayed Higher Organisation for People of Determination invited people with disabilities to participate in the ‘Arabic Pals’ competition. We were amazed by the strong response to this initiative, and received several entries from People of Determination. This truly embodies the idea of integration that we seek to implement on the widest scale, deepening the close link between People of Determination and the Arabic language... We thank the Organisation and all participants for taking part in the initiative, and invite them to join us again in the upcoming competitions organized by the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre.”