Kareem with Shadi, his kind brother

Kareem with Shadi, his kind brother

Sunday, 7 November 2021


Amazing spatial cognitive capacity

Since he was little, Kareem was interested in his surroundings; even if it meant creating a big mess using all possible items that he can get hold of.

A couple of years ago he discovered Google maps, and somehow realised that it was a map and asked about our house. Gradually it became his hobby to open the app and start looking for his own house by himself, even without accurate spelling.

He loves taking a virtual trip from his home to his relatives’ houses, the school, the park and then back. Tonight, he went to Google maps on the laptop and took his mother on a trip from home to church (over 2.5 miles across several turns and roads) then back to my house. From there he took her to a club he goes to sometimes then came back via the garage-not sure if he wanted virtual petrol! Then he went on to his school before going home. It is a long and complicated journey that requires a lot of cognitive skills and spatial awareness, as well as memory and recognition.

In real life, he has been walking between his house and mine confidently for a while- and won’t look to us when we walk behind. He walks looking ahead and does not look back. Now after several trips to school with this mechanism, he goes by himself through pedestrian lanes (with mum following behind and away from the road).

We are very thankful that he seems to have settled in the new school, though occasionally the school calls to take him because he did something he should not have done. When he gets frustrated and can not explain what he wants, or he faces the word “no” he will become distressed and throw things around. The trick is to anticipate his frustration and divert his energy to something positive. We also learnt to stop/forbid something without using “no”. Of course, sometimes I forget but he does not throw things at me, he just won’t do what I ask him. Then I have to think of different way to persuade him.

Perhaps using google maps may appear like a tiny thing not worth writing about. Yet for us every achievement is a really significant event for us -his family- that is worth celebrating. For one thing, it marks progress in his development and it makes him happy. This in turn makes us very happy and celebrating this is worthwhile and mitigates the frustrations of a world that is not always welcoming or understanding of difference

Bless you Kareem for all the pleasure you give me. You are my sunshine-literally.

Saturday, 25 September 2021

A new start A new hope

After a difficult year, two years really, at primary school- thanks to COVID-19 and other things, Kareem started a new secondary school. He is taking it slowly with ups and downs. At last, this week, he seems to be settling in and the school is trying to provide for his needs.

From my expereince with Kareem’ schooling I can say that inclusion is not just a a legislation that schools are obliged to implement. Fundamentally, inclusion is about believing that all kids have a right to an education that provides them with the environment and the tools that help them to achieve their potential-whatever it is. More importantly, it is the real belief that all kids can contribute to the wellbeing of the school community. For example, inclusion of kids with special needs like those with Down Syndrome, make a huge contribution in teaching staff and other kids about understanding “the other”, and the value of diversity and kindness.

Yesterday we got some lovely reports from the school: “….wanted to say a huge well done to Kareem for how brilliant he has been the last 2 days!”. “Excellent, he went to the big English lesson today too! I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and looking forward to seeing him on Monday!”

Fingers crossed for more of these reports and less of not preventing his frustration before it builds up!

Last Thursday I went to walk to school with him, but he insisted on going alone. His mum kept a distance behind him to ensure safety, but I was too far to follow so I missed seeing him going inside the school.

He is very proud of going to school by himself (he does not see his mum behind) and is positive about waking up to go to school. He gets dressed, brushes his teeth, washes his face, and breakfast-all by himself. This is a huge difference from his mode last year. Thanks to all the staff who contribute to Kareem’s welfare.

Kareem is very lucky to have a loving and caring family and a super wonderful mum.

His dad sent me this video of happy dancing Kareem. 

Tuesday, 16 March 2021

16th March 2021 - The incredible Mr. Oakley

This term Kareem is lucky to have the amazing Mr Oakley, his teacher assistant who is succeeding -keep fingers crossed- to persuade Kareem to return to school.

Since last week, it has been a little bit easy to get Kareem ready for school in the morning. He decides from the night before if he would go and if he would have lunch at school. It has been very hard for Kareem to cope with the school changes due to Covid. That was on top of having problems before Covid.

Anyway, now Mr. Oakley managed to get Kareem to start doing some work, which for the family, is a great achievement. He is learning about carnivores and herbivores dinosaurs. Like many children, Hareem loves dinosaurs and can say the names of many of them. He laughs at me because I do not know the different ones and cannot say their names.

kareem walks to school on his own and he seems to take pride of that. It is still a fragile progress and we try to support and praise to get him to re-like his school and his lessons.

Thank you Mr. Oakley.

StNicholas Primary

teacher , work for Kareem, which he enjoyed.

Sunday, 28 February 2021

Feb 11th 2021

Thanks to covid19, changes in school systems, lockdown, and school closures, Kareem is refusing to go to school for his 2 days a week. We used to persuade him to go by getting my daughter’s dog and sometimes my sister’s dog to wait for Kareem outside his school to take him home. Now he is not even persuaded by this.

He has a very creative teaching assistant who tries to teach him online, but Kareem gets bored quickly. He'd rather play word games or watch specific TV programmes where he is in control. At least these activities are helping him to improve his language vocabulary, expressions and conversational flow.

It has been almost a year since he stopped coming to my house and me going to his. We used to do some learning using programmes like BBC bitesize, which he used to enjoy. Now his education is totally dependent on his parents in his house, and it takes long time to persuade him to do 10-15 minutes work.

I hope that once I am vaccinated, I will be able to have him at my house to work and play. I dream about him playing like this picture from last summer. I love this picture. It is of happy Kareem.

Saturday, 9 January 2021

You are my sunshine

There are several blogs that I have written but not published yet. I will publish them by the date they were written even that they may appear in the wrong chronological order! . 

09 January 2021 

This week I walked with Kareem and Ottah, my daughter’s dog to the nearby park. Kareem loves playing with the dog throwing a ball and see the dog catches it and runs with it before leaving it for Kareem to throw it again.

It was so cold so we did not stay long. As we were walking home, he left me and walked to talk to two ladies walking about. He said hello then complemented one on her colourful scarf and the other on her jacket! I came near them – preserving distance- and he introduced them as the ladies who help him swimming and introduced me as “my favourite aunt”. Not sure how accurate he was in describing me as such!  

I have not met many kids who have something nice to say to people like Kareem does. He sees beauty in everything and everybody. He told them that he was missing swimming.  But then was happy to continue walking with the dog.

Every night Shadi and Kareem ring me say good night. Tonight, Kareem said to me: you are my sunshine. In reality he is my real sunshine who brighten my day and evening by just seeing him, listening to him and celebrating his achievements big and small.

Thursday, 29 October 2020

A morning with Kareem

Ottah, my daughter’s dog, and I went to pick Kareem up. He was happy to see her and walked with her with his coat and his glasses on. I was watching for the moment that he gets frustrated and throws his glasses, but it did not happen. He kept stroking the back of the dog as we walked and telling her that he loved her. Clearly, he was happy with the dog so there was no cause to be frustrated. Gradually he gained confidence and took the lead from me and walked gently to the end of the road pulling her gently when she wanted to go elsewhere.


At my house, Kareem played and talked to Ottah for a while bringing her toys to her to play. She responds to his commands very quickly has he enjoys telling her to sit or gives him a paw, after which he rewards her with a bit of treat. Because she would eat anything he gives her, he thinks she is constantly hungry and I have to tell him that she is not!


After playing for about 20 minutes he went to the office, sat at the computer and started karate Cat. I cannot thank the @BBC enough for these wonderful educational programmes.

Kareem stayed 30 minutes with uninterrupted concentration doing the English grammar exercises. I was delighted to learn that he knew his punctuation really well (about 95% without my help), all the spelling and correct words. I was happily surprised that he recognised adverbs and adjectives without my help and more over he knew the type of sentence: past, present progressive, past progressive. At first he confused verbs and nouns then after a couple of sentences, he got it right.


Doing well has succeeding is his biggest motivation. It was lovely (and also melting for my heart) when he looked at me with a huge smile on his face after finishing all the questions in each “belt” and said: I am clever. Yes my darling you are clever. Very clever indeed if you get the right stimulating environment and a patient helper who can find the right material and encourage you to achieve your great potential.


Afterwards, he wanted to play some of his usual videos, but I said no. He got upset and turned to his video (he had control of the computer). I was going to switch the screen off but realised that it would irritate him more. So, I asked him to talk and decide what to do together. We agreed on two minutes to watch. His mum arrived and he just peacefully left it.

In fact, we arranged the morning on the night before. May daughter discussed and agreed with Kareem that if he does his work, he could have a sleep over. The expectation of that, I think, made it easy for him to do what he was supposed to do without being angry. He did not need to show his frustration or to get his voice heard by spitting when he was not listened to. Everything was agreed beforehand.

 I love you Kareem.


Saturday, 10 October 2020

Kareem sleep over


Kareem's sleep over 

Kareem is having a sleep over with me today. He was so excited although he knew that the dog was not in the house!.

 First thing he started playing around, dancing then decided to be the dog and slept in her bed! In passing by the piano, he decided to play. He played with his fingers not “hand bang bang”. It sounded like “Brother Jack” .


After doing a bit of drawing we had to negotiate some homework. This normally takes time. Stupid me, I put an educational game on the computer for which he immediately turned to some of his own games. So we had to go through another negotiation using carrots like: walking the dog tomorrow or coming again for a sleep over. He said “ I promise” to do homework after the game. 

Well, it took sometime but eventually he chose a page of “spelling double letters” and we played it as a game. I think when he knew the answer, he wrote it quickly but when he was not sure, he would try all the possible options and laugh at the ones that sounded wrong/funny.

I thought he would do only one page but to my happy surprise he decided to do another one. Then I cajoled him to do a page of math-timetable 10.


He decided that he wanted to have pizza for dinner, but I said that I never made pizza and I did not know how to make it. He immediately insisted that he would teach me after he played another game.

Looking at my Italian cook book, I  got an idea about making pizza. I thought that I would have to negotiate leaving the game but to my pleasant surprise he just came and asked me to carry him to the kitchen top and he told me how to make the pizza. He rolled the dough and watched me putting it in the pan and finishing the filling then he left to the computer.


Kareem is one of the politest kids I have ever seen. He always says please and thank you for anything and everything. It is a sheer pleasure to cook for him. Not only he appreciates good food, but he also always has lovely words for the cook. We had our pizza and then went upstairs to read a book. He read one of the Gruffalos to me. Good reading even that some of the words are not clear.

After a long bath he insisted that I read a book and he read another then brush teeth and I was rewarded when he said “ I love “.


Good night my beloved boy. You are the pleasure of my life since the first day I say you as a newly born baby.