Cars, carrots and coping

People watching is an interesting thing, and when you’re cooped up on a flight for nearly seven hours, it is inevitable. Especially when watching a movie that bores your brains out. This post has two parts – a spoiler-filled review of Fast & Furious 6, and thoughts on my fellow passengers.

PART ONE: THE MOVIE
I’ve a confession to make, I’m a fan of the Fast & Furious series – I love the cars and the action. I hated the second movie, went against the tide of haters for the third (seriously, I thought Tokyo Drift was a whole lot of fun), and kept going back for more.

I’ve been trying to watch the sixth one for ages, but never managed it. So on a flight when I saw the movie in the list, I had to press play.

And how royally have the franchise screwed it up with this one! I got so bored I started getting distracted by people around me.

Okay look, you have to understand it takes a lot for me to not pay attention to a movie. When The Rock started spouting lines about wanting wolves, and protecting chickens from the foxes, I wanted to set dogs on him.

And when the climax scene with the tank (c’mon everyone has seen that scene in the trailer) came to an end, I actually laughed at the absurdity – behold, Vin Diesel can fly. When Han mentioned Tokyo, I was all, DON’T GO YOU WILL DIIIIIEEEEEEEEE! When the stupid cheesy last scene as played I felt more awkward than the actors on screen looked. When someone mentioned going to “the other side” all I could think about was Jason Derulo’s song courtesy it being overplayed on our radio stations. And I don’t know whose idea it was to outdo the tank in the movie… But WAS THAT RIDICULOUSLY UNREALISTICALLY MASSIVE PLANE THE MOST SENSIBLE IDEA?!

PART TWO: MY FELLOW PASSENGERS
I had an aloo (that’s ‘potato’ for you non-desi folk) sitting next to me. An aloo means more than just the vegetable – it can be used to refer to desi men who look like overgrown potatoes. Not only did this aloo take up my space, he kept dropping things near my feet, and drank around three mini-bottles of vodka. Bear in mind the flight left Dubai at 9am. Looks like someone was intent on riding the free train! Then him and his wife spent five minutes trying to decide what to eat. It’s not an extensive menu, geniuses. The aloo then asked, when the lovely stewardess came by to ask what he wanted for breakfast, why the lunch options were not available at same time, and looked genuinely disappointed he only had limited choices. This is economy class dude. You’re lucky you HAVE a choice.

Anyway while I was getting bored shitless with uninspiring quips on Fast & Furious 6, my attention was caught by a man two seats over watching a South Indian movie with English subtitles, where a man whom I guessed was the hero was wooing a woman in a song by eating a carrot in slow motion. No, really. Someone, anyone, explain this. This was followed by the girl he was wooing doing some kind of light aerobics in salwar kameez on the street with around 20 aunties behind her doing the same. Then the hero decided kissing a baby while grinning creepily at the woman on his dreams was the best idea. She was not impressed. Neither was I. Then some men appeared on screen talking about hair dye. Ummmm.

On the other screen, a man was watching Star Trek into Darkness and I kept getting distracted by the mesmerising eyes of Chris Pine and Benedict Cumberbatch. Mmmmm.

I’ve survived yet another flight. Hurrah.

Do parents of special needs children need training?

An interesting press release landed in my inbox (pasted at the end of this post), about training for parents of children with special needs.

I’m glad initiatives like these take place! When you get that call or are told face-to-face that your child is ‘different’ from the normative human being, it’s definitely a shock. You have to prepare yourselves for dealing with issues other families may not have to. And there’s never been a manual. My point is, yes I think families with special needs need training and a network of support. It’s great that there’s so much support nowadays, whether it’s through programmes like these, or even the internet!

I was only 12 when Karan was diagnosed, I never really found blogs of other special needs families until I was around 15 or so, when I started looking. I was frustrated, even as a sibling, with the lack of information on how to deal, how to cope. I discovered blogs I loved reading…other Moms listing their trials and tribulations, their successes and so much more.

My parents don’t like the idea of this blog in a way, they think I share too much about Karan and our life with him. And you may be able to tell this blog now has less of ‘life with Karan’, and more of my thoughts on the topic of special needs in general. One of them is probably reading right now and thinking that me saying they think I over-share IS over-sharing! 🙂 But I have found the special needs community online to be one of the best support networks out there. Someone else has already done the sleepless nights and shared what worked, someone else has already dealt with tantrums in the supermarket and shared their fatigue, someone else’s kid has finally learned how to use the toilet independently and they shared their joy with us.

Lately I haven’t had the time to comment, but I am a lurker on the special needs community websites and read, and get happy and sad with them. Shout-out to these blogs for being some of my favourite special needs websites to read when I can: Living with Autism / Love That Max / Planet Autism / Adventures in Extreme Parenthood / Autism by Hand

Anyway, here’s the press release that triggered this post (copied in full):

Al Jalila Foundation announces the launch of its Ta’alouf Parents Training aimed at providing life-changing skills to parents of children with special needs

Dubai, UAE; 5 October 2013: Al Jalila Foundation, a global philanthropic organisation dedicated to transforming lives through medical education and research, has announced the launch of its first training course taking place for parents of children with special needs as part of the Foundation’s Ta’alouf programme. The course spans 12 weeks and provides behavioural training for these parents to empower them with life-changing skills. As part of its sponsorship, Al Jalila Foundation has committed to providing training for 400 parents of all nationalities over a period of four years. The course is being conducted in collaboration with the British University in Dubai (BUiD), the Middle East’s first research based postgraduate university, and is designed and led by Professor Eman Gaad, Dean of Faculty of Education and the Head of the Doctoral Programme at BUiD.

Ta’alouf, which means ‘harmony’ in Arabic, is Al Jalila Foundation’s flagship community programme, which was announced in June 2013, starts today with the parents training course. Established by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Ruler of Dubai, Al Jalila Foundation is committed to fostering a unified and inclusive society where parents, educators, strategic partners and the wider community work together to empower children with disabilities.

The training provided through this collaboration enables parents to complement the efforts of educators and caregivers for a continuum of care between the child’s home and school. The first 12-week professional course includes 55 parents of children with varying special needs and will cover a range of professional behavioural skills that will allow parents to better address their children’s needs. Among the participants are Sonia Al Hashimi, Chairperson of the UAE Down Syndrome Association, and Fatima Rashed Al Matrooshi, Chairperson of the Emirates Autism Society.

Dr Abdulkareem Al Olama, CEO of Al Jalila Foundation, said: “This training is deeply rooted in our premise that learning is not only confined to the classroom because, even at home, children are in a continuous process of intellectual growth in which parental engagement is essential. This parent-centred course will allow parents to be more perceptive in interpreting their children’s behavioural cues, thus making the learning process more interactive.”

Professor Abdullah Alshamsi, Vice Chancellor of BUiD, added: “The British University in Dubai believes that all students, including those with disabilities and special learning needs, are entitled to an excellent education. Equipping parents with the tools and knowledge required to provide their children with a genuine opportunity to succeed is a vital part of this educational success. In responding to this vision, we are very proud to be Al Jalila Foundation’s partner in this wonderful initiative.”

Sonia Al Hashimi, Chairperson of the UAE Down Syndrome Association, added: “Parents face challenges, stigmas and alienation and they need support that will enable them to be better equipped to assimilate information and act on behalf of their children. Increasingly, communities are recognising the critical need for inclusion – these courses are providing that necessary bridge between parents and school, addressing the needs of these children.”

Fatima Rashed Al Matrooshi, Chairperson of the Emirates Autism Society, stated: “There have been significant developments in the education of students with special educational needs in recent years. Keeping track of these developments and getting involved in your child’s special education are among the most important things you can do as a parent. I would like to thank Al Jalila Foundation for introducing this very important initiative to the UAE.”

This latest collaboration marks another significant milestone for Al Jalila Foundation since its launch on 1 April 2013. The cumulative effect of the parents’ training will advance the organisation towards its overall aim of impacting lives across the UAE population through medical education and research.