Solaiman’s Story: Permission to Dream


In early March 2020, Solaiman’s parents, Ahmed and Fauzia, watched with pride as Solaiman received his yellow belt in Karate, supported by his brother, Moazzam.

Not long ago, the Reza family would never have imagined that this was possible.

Solaiman was diagnosed with autism at age four. And like any parents, Ahmed and Fauzia wanted to support their son, so they navigated through a lot of research and sought possible opportunities. Eventually, Fauzia was connected to Community Living Ontario.

Participating in Community Living Ontario’s Family Leadership Series—whether through in-class discussions or informal chats—opened Fauzia’s eyes to how Solaiman could lead a full life in his community.

As Ahmed travels internationally for work, he was not able to join the Family Leadership Series in-person, however, he heard all about it after the sessions. As Fauzia says:

“The big takeaway for me was to explore what my son wants to do in life and not to decide for him. Why should anyone put limits on his dreams?”

Sometimes, Solaiman’s behaviours caused concern, or made it difficult for him to participate in all activities. But the Family Leadership Series helped Solaiman and his family imagine new possibilities.

“The Family Leadership Series starts with identifying the problems and then it goes on to look for different solutions,” said Fauzia. “Sometimes even our best intentions as parents can limit our thinking until we hear from other families and learn from them, too.”

The Series gave Solaiman and his family permission to dream and challenge the low expectations set for Solaiman by his diagnosis. These weekend workshops provided the family with ample time and support to experiment with new ideas.

Today, Solaiman—who turns 17 next month—participates in dance, music, singing and karate. Thanks to Community Living Ontario, he and his family enjoy a greater quality of life, and no longer feel isolated by an Autism diagnosis.

For his part, 19-year-old Moazzam now volunteers as a mentor with Community Living Ontario in his spare time from his studies at the University of Toronto. And Fauzia remains connected to the people that she met through the Family Leadership Series.  As she says:

“Prior to attending the Family Leadership Series, I thought that there was hardly anything new for me to learn. Little did I know that Community Living Ontario would help open a door to endless possibilities. Community Living Ontario changes lives.”

By partnering with Community Living Ontario, you are changing the way people who have an intellectual disability engage with their communities. Your commitment ensures that children, youth, and adults who have an intellectual disability along with their families are fully included in all aspects of community life.

Your continued support and generosity also enable us to engage even more families to join our online initiatives to ensure practical and educational resources for people who have an intellectual disability and their families.

None of this work would be possible without your support. We encourage you to give today to help inspire possibilities for people who have an intellectual disability.

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