Sunday, February 26, 2012

Your child has ADHD and needs to be put on medication

 A few days ago a good friend of mine called me, very distressed because her 6-year-old son’s teacher called her in and told her that her son has an attention deficit disorder and he needs to be put on Ritalin. She asked me if I could do an assessment with him to see if he in fact does have a problem. So obviously I agreed, feeling very disturbed myself because I know how quick people are today to “diagnose” young children with Attention Deficit Disorder, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Furthermore I completely disagree with young children being given such strong, mind altering medication.

Now I’m not saying that the Disorder does not exist. I have seen children who actually do really have attention problems, but this does not apply to any child who can’t sit still and pay attention for long periods of time, especially if they are only 6 years old.

Anyway, back to the little boy in question. Ahmed, is his name, Masha’Allah he is such a cute little child, with these huge hazel eyes and sweet smile. I spent 2 hours with him, doing different tasks and he was able to sit still and pay attention throughout that time. Okay so he started getting a bit tired and lost concentration towards the end of the 2 hours, but isn’t that normal? Shouldn’t we allow for normal human behaviour? I mean, who doesn’t get tired after doing work for two hours straight. His behaviour in my eyes definitely did not warrant a diagnosis of ADD/ ADHD and he most definitely does not require medication.

I find it really sad, because what this “medication” does is control children. It turns them into robotic type kids, who are “manageable”. Since when are children supposed to sit still and be quiet for hours on end. Since when can we expect them not to be curious and explorative. I know that classroom situations are difficult for teacher’s, especially when they have to deal with large numbers of children who come from different cultural and language backgrounds, as is the case here in South Africa, but I think that we really should not be so quick to diagnose children with anything. Perhaps the child has a different learning style, where he or she cannot learn by looking at the board or even from reading books, perhaps there are children, like Ahmed who learns in a practical manner, by physically doing things and watching others do things. These differences in learning style are important and needs to be considered within a classroom setting, especially before making claims that children have a disorder and need to be put on Ritalin.
Image from here

I know that there are parents who initially thought that medicating their children would be good, only to regret it later, because they saw the effects that it had on their children. These “drugs” are not something to take lightly and the repercussions can be detrimental.

Now I’m not condemning the teacher in question here, after all I am not a teacher and truly admire those who are. I used to lifeskills sessions with children at schools and honestly they literally ran circles around me, so I know that I would never be able to do what teacher’s do every single day. Having said that however, I believe that children are all different, they are amazing and unique in their own way. A child may not be good at Math or reading, he/she may struggle with writing and learning letters, but that same child will have talents in other areas. Giving labels to children, especially at such a young age is dangerous, not only will it affect the child’s self-esteem, but it will also stifle their talent and it will teach them that if they can’t be like everyone else then there’s something wrong with them. This is very unfair in my opinion.

Let me just also add that I am not saying here that children should not be disciplined. I think that the discipline is very important for children. Children who grow up without discipline become adults without discipline and then we have a whole society of selfish and arrogant people, which we can already see today.

Let us remember the example of the Most Beloved of Allah, Our Master , Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). He loved children, and treated them with kindness and respect, he took the time to understand each individual child’s problems and was never harsh with them. His perfection was evident in this area as well as he had just the right balance. If only everyone could emulate this perfect and blessed example, the world would be a better place for us all!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Those terrible “Blue Days”

We all have “blue days”; those terrible days when you just don’t feel like getting out of bed in the morning; when you feel like you will never be happy again and that life is just a huge mess. If you’ve never had one of those days then you are very fortunate or perhaps more appropriately I should say that you are unfortunate; but I doubt that there are many people who can say they’ve never had a “blue day”.

The reasons may differ, but somehow things always seem to have a way of working things out, or rather I should say that The Almighty Creator allows things to get better through His Infinite Mercy.

This weekend was a blue weekend for me. It all started on Friday when I had an argument with my mother over something very stupid. Of course the worst thing you can do is argue with your mother, it just always turns out bad and no matter which way you look at it, you’re never going to come out of there the winner. I think this is because of the high status that Allah has afforded mothers, or maybe it’s just because it’s useless arguing with the woman who gave birth to you, raised you and knows you better than anyone else ever will. And let me tell you that the saying; “mother always knows best” really is true. So anyway, I did the stupid thing and argued with my mother, which I regretted terribly afterwards, as can be expected; and this was the cause of my “Blue weekend”. It was all very unnecessary and easily avoidable if you ask me, but sometimes we need to learn things the hard way.

Alhamdullillah (All Praise is due to Allah) things are much better now. Did I mention that it’s also a mother’s nature to always forgive her children, well most mothers anyway! So today is a very happy Monday, because after a blue weekend you can’t have a blue Monday, not when things are looking much better.

Nevertheless I thought that this would be a good time to share something very valuable that I’ve learnt in one of our ladies workshops. So here goes.

There 5 Reasons why Allah gives us problems:

1.  To direct us towards Him.

2.  To inspect us.

3.  To correct us-with the lessons learnt through the pain and failures we experience.

4.  To protect us – from more serious harm because if we learn from our lessons and apply what we’ve learnt to our lives.

5.  To Perfect us- When we respond to difficulties correctly then this builds our character and helps us to be better people.

Isn’t this interesting? So in each situation we need to look at what the reason is for our difficulty and how we can use this to become better people. If we remain the same throughout our lives then we are not reaching our goals on this earth. We have to learn and grow from our mistakes so that we can become perfect people, and Inshaa-Allah (If Allah wills) then we will be able to stand up straight on the Day when we have to face our Creator and account for our deeds.

So what if we had no “blue days” at all; no difficulties, no challenges and no problems. What would life be like then? And what type of people would we be?  And if we don’t make mistakes then how will we know better the next time? Furthermore, if we don’t go through all these difficulties, confusion, misunderstandings and what not, then how will we come to understand ourselves and other people, how will we learn about life and most importantly, how will we learn about the Mercy and Beauty of Our Creator? And finally, if we have never learnt or experienced anything, then what will we have to share with others?

So yes, we all have “blue days”. Sometimes we have more “blue days” than any other colour day. Sometimes it seems that the “blue days” just won’t end. Whatever the case is though, we should know that it will pass at some time or the other, even if it takes years, but we should be happy knowing that Inshaa-Allah when it finally passes, then we would have become better people, people closer to the ideal of perfection.

Rumi Said something like the rock needs to be rubbed and polished until it can become the diamond. So even though the rubbing and polishing may seem harsh, the diamond cannot shine without it.

Let’s just hope that we are all able to turn our “blue days” into something valuable, so that rainbows of light can shine when we really need it to.

For all those who may be having “blue days”; I really do hope it passes soon!  
Image from here

Monday, February 13, 2012

The days the world stood still...NOT

Last week was a different week for me. I didn’t think that something so small could make such a big difference to my life, and as much as I thought I could do without it easily, it seems that I cannot, not really. You must be wondering what I’m talking about... It’s my internet connection of course!

For about 4 days last week I had no internet connection! There was a fault which needed to be fixed by the service provider, but like many things in South Africa, it took very long to sort out. It turned out that all it was, was a loose wire. If only someone had some time to check that out on the same day we reported the fault, but in any case, 4 days later they finally found the time and my misery was put to an end. Alhamdullillah.

Okay so maybe it wasn’t exactly misery, that could be a vague generalization, but I can tell you that I felt lost. It really felt like life had just stood still. All the work that was waiting for me couldn’t be done because e-mails had to be sent out first and naturally without internet, I couldn’t send emails. So I moped around waiting for the connection to be fixed again and that’s when I realised how dependent I have become. I mean really, my work got set back a whole week because of one disconnected wire, this really was an eye opener as to how much of my activity actually dependents on the internet working.

Besides my work not getting done, I couldn’t blog, e-mail anyone, read anyone’s blogs or web pages. I couldn’t get the details for payments that I had to make because it was on the internet, I couldn’t order my brother’s university textbooks because I was supposed to be doing it online. Every time I thought about something I had to do, I was reminded that I couldn’t do it because I had no internet access. How crazy is that?

A while ago I began trying to spend less time on the internet, I knew that it took up a lot of my time, but I guess I didn’t realise the extent. Can you imagine that it seemed like my world had stood still, all because of a silly internet connection.

Yet the world didn’t stay still at all, neither did it end. I still woke up every day, I still managed to complete my daily chores, perform my daily worships, keep in touch with people... The sun still rose and set, the day still continued to go on and the earth still continued to go round. The world’s problems continued, politicians kept up their usual appearances as they worked hard to fool the masses, crime still continued, people still died (not because of their inability to access the internet), children still continued to go to school, cars still continued to drive...the world moved on and on, and my little issue with internet disconnection meant nothing at all.

So now I am back and I have to admit that I didn’t miss much at all. Yes, Whitney Houston was found dead in her hotel room, that’s about the biggest news right now, (or maybe it’s already old news). So I was set back a few days with work, but now the e-mails I had to send out is all done and everything else I needed to do will be sorted out soon. So in fact, it wasn’t such a big deal at all.  

It’s easy to get caught up in cyberspace, it’s even easier to conduct all your activies through cyberspace-being able to shop online or pay a bill online really does save a lot of time and energy...but what this has taught me is that even though this is the Information Age, we do not need to be dependent on the internet. There was life before the internet took the world by storm and there will be life after the internet as well. The internet does not sustain our lives, and definitely does not make the world go round. So it may take a bit of adjusting, or a lot of adjusting, depending on your own personal internet usage, but life will continue.

When I look at the green trees and red roses, the white daisies and the blue skies, the rain that falls and nourishes everything, the golden sunshine which shines so bright and even the glowing moon on a dark night, when I think about all this I am reminded about what life really is about. We were not meant to sit in front of the computer screen the whole day, taking in beauty from simulations. The world is moving around us, even quicker these days, perhaps we should reduce our internet dependence and take the time to look around us, before the world really does come to an end.

Image from here

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Life is all about perception

 While reading Surah Kahf (the Chapter of the Cave) of the Glorious Quraan yesterday it occurred to me that life is all about perception, we perceive things in a certain way, based on our very limited knowledge and we begin to regard our perception as the truth, when actually most times we don’t even know the full story in situations.

Just to recap...

In Surah Kahf we learn this lesson through the story of Moosa / Moses (Peace be upon Him) and Khidr (PBUH). Moosa (PBUH) is given a lesson in humility when he is told to go on a journey with Khidr (PBUH). Khidr gives Moosa a warning that Moosa (PBUH) should not question any of his actions as they go on their journey. Firstly they get a lift with some people in a boat and before they leave, Khidr (PBUH) makes a hole in the boat. Moosa (PBUH) gets upset and asks why he did that to those people who were good enough to give them a lift, but Khidr (PBUH) reminds him that he should not question, so they go along on their way. Then they come across a boy and Khidr (PBUH) kills the boy and once again Moosa (PBUH) becomes very angry, but he is again reminded not to question. Then they come to a town and the people there don’t want them to enter and stay for a while, but as they are leaving they see a broken wall and Khidr (PBUH) builds the wall up. Now Moosa (PBUH) really can’t be silent anymore. So he questions Khidr (PBUH) telling him that those people were not hospitable at all but he rebuilt their wall. This is where they part ways because Moosa (PBUH) did not stick to their agreement that he would not ask questions. But before they part, Khidr (PBUH) explains his actions to Moosa (PBUH).

â  The people in the boat were poor people and there was a tyrant King who was seizing all the boats. I made a hole because then the King would not want their boat. He would overlook it because of the default and they would still have their boat.

â  I killed the boy because his parents were pious people and he would grow up to be a non-believer and he would also bring his parents to disbelief. With the will of Allah they will be granted another child who will bring them good.  

â  I built the wall up again because underneath was a treasure left by a pious man for his two young sons. If the wall had not been built up again then others would find the treasure. Now when the boys reach the right age they will receive their treasure.

And Khidr (PBUH) added that he only acted according to what Allah had willed for him to do.

Interesting, isn’t it...

When Moosa (PBUH) first saw these actions he thought that they were bad actions, but after the explanation we see that in fact they were good actions.


How many times does this happen to us? We see something happening and we think that it’s bad, and only afterwards we understand that in fact it was a good thing. Or, we go through difficulties and wonder why we have to go through it and only long afterwards we see that what we thought was difficulty or something negative was in fact something positive, or it had positive effects for us.

This is the very reason why we are taught to endure everything patiently, because our perception is limited and we cannot see and understand the full picture of things.

This is also why there is so much conflict in the world, because everyone thinks that their perception of things is the truth or the way they see things is the right way, but when we take the time to consider things from the other person’s perception then it becomes easier for us to deal with conflict, because we are able to open our minds and see things differently.  

In any situation if we are given more information and if we increase our knowledge about things, then we will most probably end up changing our perception, and just like Moosa (PBUH) we may find that what we thought was bad was in fact done with good intention.

The world would be a better place if we tried to understand different perceptions instead of holding fast to our own. As we’ve learnt in Surah Kahf, things are not always what we think they are.

May Almighty Allah grant us with insight to always understand the truth in all situations instead of stubbornly hold on to our own limited perceptions.