Celebrating Ramadan with an autistic child

Photo of Elijah Cruz against blank wall
Elijah Cruz - Digital Communications Officer
Monday 11 March 2024
A Muslim mother, father, son and daughter are indoors in a living room. The parents are sitting on the sofa, and the daughter is laughing while being tickled.

Speaking to a group of parents at our Birmingham Children’s Centre, it becomes clear that faith plays a central role in their lives as they parent autistic children.

We spoke to Aisha*, Razia and Nabz, who wanted to share how their faith has helped them to overcome life’s challenges and to ensure their children are able to feel included during Ramadan.

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"Faith gives my child a sense of belonging"

For Aisha, whose ten-year-old son has been attending the centre for three years, her faith is “simple and loving”. It's about identity, belonging and security.

She said: “I try to share my love for my faith with my children. But I know that it has to come from the heart so I allow them to go at their own pace."

"My son has limited speech, is uncomfortable with change, likes routine and is a fussy eater. This means that in the past, he has felt quite isolated from Ramadan but as he's gotten older, he has started to learn the Holy Quran, recognise some of the words and memorise his prayers. All of this has made him feel included.”

"My faith has helped me to accept my child’s condition"

Razia said sharing her faith with her children, who are four and two years old, is about leading by example: “I want them to know about the beauty of our religion, about kindness and giving.”

Nabz, a single parent with a nine year old son who has been referred to the centre and is awaiting a diagnosis, says her faith has helped her to cope: “My faith is a way of life, it allows me to gather my thoughts and to know my purpose. It has helped me to accept my son’s condition.”

mother and daughter reading together

In talking about her faith to her children, Nabz tries to educate them “to understand that we are blessed with food, that there are many who are less fortunate than us and the importance of giving to charity. Ramadan is an opportunity find your spiritual self."

"Food is both exciting and a challenge for us"

While fasting is a central part of Ramadan, sharing food at permitted meal times is an important part of its family and community spirit. This can be a challenge with autistic children, who might find new tastes and textures problematic. Aisha explained how she has tried to accommodate this:

“We introduce some foods ahead of time. For example, we enjoy eating dates during Ramadan but my son isn’t keen. So I have been slowly introducing them into his diet through smoothies and we hope he may now be able to enjoy them with the rest of the family during Ramadan.”

Other small things such as bringing the dining table into the sitting room, the hub of her home, helps Aisha’s son to feel comfortable during meal times.

Mother and children together with play blocks.

Nabz also starts her Ramadan preparation early to give her son time to adjust:

“We start with eating two meals a day and decorating our home, answering questions along the way with patience and understanding.”

All of the parents said that the first week of Ramadan is a challenge but that it gets better as the children settle into a routine.

Ramadan is a time to recharge your soul

Nabz, a parent whose nine year old son attends Birmingham Children’s Centre

How we help celebrate Ramadan at our service

The festival of Ramadan, along with many other religious festivals, is celebrated at Birmingham Children’s Centre with displays, facilitating social time between parents and offering staff additional regular breaks during the day.

Centre Manager Raj said "many of our parents have made friendships though the centre, sharing food and presents. It is lovely to see.”

The parents who we spoke to said that celebrating religious festivals at the centre helps their children to understand and participate in Ramadan.


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*Name changed.