Social Story: The Sunnahs of Eating and Drinking

In the last blog post, we discussed all about social stories (click here to read all about what they are used for, and how to implement them in your child’s routine). In a nutshell, social stories are used as guides for children with autism and were designed to help them with new experiences. With just one search, you can find social stories on a variety of different topics ranging from the first day of school, dentist visits, appropriate behaviors in response to feelings of anger, etc. The list is endless.

As Muslims, there are many every day actions we do which follow the actions of Prophet Muhammad (may peace and blessings be upon him). Any action of Prophet Muhammad (may peace and blessings be upon him) is called a “sunnah”. There are many sunnahs we follow. For example, there are sunnahs of waking up, sunnahs of sleeping, sunnahs regarding our interactions with other people, and sunnahs of eating and drinking to name a few.

At Ibn Umm Maktum Foundation, we will be launching a series of Social Stories: Sunnah Edition. The first one we will be sharing today is the Sunnah of Eating and Drinking. We believe that it is important for all children to experience the beauty of Islam and engage them in different acts of worship.

Click on the link below to download the FREE pdf of our Sunnahs of Eating and Drinking Social story.

Tips:

  • read this story with your child right before he or she sits down to eat. Do this as many times as you can. Remember- consistency and repetition is key!
  • Make sure that you practice the above sunnahs in your eating habits as well. Children learn best through seeing and imitating the actions of their parents. Setting an example for your children is best!
  • Finally, as you are eating, verbally point out each sunnah you are doing. For example say, “Look, I say Bismillah before I eat” or “I remember to eat with my right hand”. This way, your child can associate what they read in the social story with a real-life examples. Pairing parts of the story with real-life examples will really help your child learn some of these sunnahs and incorporate them into their daily routines.

Note: If you need to adapt this social story to better suit your child (for example, if your child is non-verbal, or has a specific behavior during eating that you would like to work on, etc.) please do not hesitate to email us at iumfmontreal@gmail.com. We will be glad to adapt our social stories to your child’s needs.

Let’s Talk About Social Stories

For many children, novel and unfamiliar situations can be extremely daunting. This is especially true for children who are unaware of what to expect and how to behave in a new social setting. Children on the autism spectrum often times have difficulty navigating unfamiliar situations and need a targeted learning method in order to ease their feelings of anxiety.

The use of social stories have been used for children on the autism spectrum and were designed to help them with new experiences. There are social stories for various situations such as, going to the doctor, first day of school, going on a field trip, activities for daily living, etc.

So…what is a social story? A social story is essentially a short story which explains what will happen in a social situation, and how best to respond and behave in this situation. What makes a social story unique is the use of minimal words (to ensure that the story is not too complicated for the child) and the use of visuals.

Click here to see an example of a social story about using the school bus.

Social stories have various advantages such as:

  1. The use of simple and short sentences
  2. Heavy use of visuals (children with autism sometimes learn better through visual representations)
  3. Giving ideas on how to respond to social situations

Although social stories were originally created for children with high-functioning autism, the great thing about them is that they are so versatile and can be easily adapted to your child’s needs. For example, you can add more or less text depending on your child’s level of comprehension. You can add more visuals if you feel your child learns best through visuals. Even children who do not have special needs can benefit from social stories if they feel anxious about certain unknown situations.

Another great way to personalize social stories for your child is to add photos that are specific to your child’s situation. For instance, if you are teaching your child about his or her first day of school, you can add an actual picture of your child’s school or of his or her classroom. You can even ask your child’s teacher for a picture of themselves and include that as well! This way, your child will visually know what to expect and will be more familiar with the setting.

In my own work as a special needs educator, I found social stories to be effective only when done consistently. This means, if you want to read a social story to your child for his or her first day of school, I would recommend reading it at least a week in advance every day. Children with autism thrive on consistency, so it is best to be consistent with reading your social story to your child.

Have you had a positive or negative experience with the use of social stories? Let us know in the comments!

The Need for Special Needs Awareness in our Community

For many of us, spirituality and community involvement plays a key role in preserving our mental health. Attending mosques, community gatherings, and meeting people with similar faith instills a sense of comfort and belonging. For children with special needs, however, feeling integrated within the Muslim community can at many times be a struggle.

Many mosques are not adapted to suit the needs of various individuals with disabilities. Moreover, some of the behavioural challenges some children with special needs face are met with unwanted glances and gossip by some attendees of the mosque who falsely believe these challenges are nothing more than a lack of discipline and poor parenting.

Among the main aims of Ibn Umm Maktum Foundation is to provide a sense of belonging for children with special needs and to ensure that these children feel a strong connection with the larger Muslim community. Furthermore, it is vital to spread special needs awareness among the Muslim community to eliminate misconceptions and stereotypes regarding individuals with disabilities.

There exists a stigma regarding disabilities in many Muslim societies. For example, it has been shown that in places such as Morocco and parts of South Asia, disabilities were seen as being the result of the “evil eye” (al-Aoufi et al., 2012). In a separate study conducted in Indonesia, interviews with individuals with disabilities revealed that disability was commonly associated with sickness (Widinarsih, 2018). This had great implications in regard to their religious obligations as these individuals felt their efforts to push for more accessibility in masjids and schools were unsuccessful due to the fact that they were not expected to be active members of society (Widinarsih, 2018).

For this reason, we strive to host many of our events at mosques or Islamic community centers, to ensure that children with special needs get to experience the tranquility, bliss, and excitement one feels when entering a place of worship and being surrounded by others who share similar values. Moreover, we believe that it is important to instill the love of Deen in our children as every child is valuable enough to practice and nourish their relationship with their Creator.

Are there any challenges that you or someone you know have faced when it comes to lack of awareness regarding special needs? Let us know in the comments below!

Who was Ibn Umm Maktum?

Abdullah Ibn Umm Maktum was a companion of Prophet Muhammad (Peace and Blessings be upon him) and among the first converts to Islam. Due to the fact that Abdullah was born blind, his mother was known as “Umm Maktum” meaning “mother of the concealed one”.

In the Quran, his story is discussed in the first 10 verses of Surah Abasa (a chapter of the Quran titled “He Frowned”). Prophet Muhammad (Peace and Blessings be upon him) was preaching Islam to important members of the Arab tribe known as the “Quraysh”. Abdullah Ibn Maktum came to him to ask a question. Prophet Muhammad (Peace and Blessings be upon him) slightly frowned since he was busy preaching Islam to these important leaders of the Quraysh and was disturbed by Ibn Umm Maktum. On this occasion, the first 10 verses of Surah Abasa were revealed. The following is a translation of the beginning of those verses:

He frowned and turned away

Because there came to him the blind man, [interrupting]

But what would make you perceive, [O Muhammad (PBUH)], that perhaps he might be purified

Or be reminded and the remembrance would benefit him?

[Quran, 80:1-4]

As a result of the above revelation, Prophet Muhammad (Peace and Blessings be upon him) used to say the following when greeting Ibn Umm Maktum: “Welcome to him on whose account my Sustainer has rebuked me”. Consequently, Ibn Umm Maktum was given a pivotal role in serving the Muslim community. He taught Quran to the people of Medina, gave the call to prayer, and at times was also the Imam responsible for leading congregations in prayer in the Prophet (SAW)’s mosque.

The story of Ibn Umm Maktum serves as a reminder about the special rank individuals with special needs have in Islam. In addition, Abdullah Ibn Umm Maktum’s diligence in learning about Islam and serving his community is a lesson on hope, dedication, and perseverance. His story also highlights the inclusivity of the Prophet’s mosque. Not only was space provided for people with special needs, but they were also empowered to be influential members of the early Muslim community. Individuals with special needs are an integral part of our community and with this foundation we hope we can provide them a platform to participate in various activities, both cultural and spiritual in nature and continue the legacy of Ibn Umm Maktum (RA).

Are there any personalities in Islamic history who are your biggest inspiration? Let us know in the comments!