The Awlaki Family

Meet Muna and Family

“I (Senait) came to the US from Egypt in 1992, I met my husband in 1996 and we married in 1997. We have three beautiful daughters and Muna is our middle child!

Muna was around 21 months old when I started noticing that she couldn’t make eye contact and wasn’t responding to her name. We took her to see her doctor, but he didn’t take our concerns seriously. I insisted that something was not right, and we were referred to a neurologist at Washington Hospital. We wanted answers right away but were forced to wait for some time to get an appointment. When we finally saw the doctor, he watched her walk around and play with toys, but he wanted to wait until she was 3 years old to fully evaluate and diagnose her. However, he did say that he thought Muna might have Autism.”

“Autism? We didn’t even know what Autism was!”

“The doctor recommended books for us to read, and I read all of them! In just about every book I was reading I could see Muna. I began to process what she was going to face for the rest of her life.”

“Around this time, we were living in Alexandria, Virginia. Muna was receiving in-home speech therapy and occupational therapy, but we really wanted her to be a part of school and a program for children with Autism. We heard that Fairfax County offered a program for children with Autism so we decided to move into Fairfax County, and placed her in school and an ABA program. Muna has been in school since she was almost 3 years old. She is now almost 22 years old and will graduate this year!”
“Muna is a wonderful girl, but between the ages of 7-9 years old she became very aggressive especially with her older sister. She was also not sleeping at night. She would wake up at night, turn on all the lights and would be extremely active. It was such a difficult time for our family! While at school she was not learning skills to communicate, and we didn’t notice any changes in her behavior. I became a de facto ABA provider for Muna to help her learn skills while at home, but I had to fight very hard for Muna at school. I have always worked so hard for her!”

“Then I heard about Jill’s House!”

“Jill’s House hadn’t opened yet, but I read a flyer describing Jill’s House and how they would serve kids with intellectual disabilities. Muna had never been to someone else’s house before, and this was going to be place where she could go. I was so happy!”
“Muna has been going to Jill’s House for so many years! She is so terrified of going into new buildings, but she loves Jill’s House so much. She will open the car door when we arrive! She loves the pool, the art room. Everything!”
“When Muna turned 18 years old, we were sad because she was about to age out of the Weekend Program at Jill’s House. I was worried that we wouldn’t be able to find anything for her, but my husband kept reassuring me that we would find something. Then we received an email from Jill’s House explaining that the Weeknight Program was going to be extended in partnership with Muna’s school, and she could continue through 21 years old. We were so happy!! It was a relief for us, but this news was wonderful for her. She loves Jill’s House so much! Everything there is covered in love, and her reaction to hearing anyone say Jill’s House is complete joy!”
“Muna always has the biggest smile, and she has settled down a little. She loves to help in the kitchen making waffles, and she loves walking in our neighborhood. After Muna graduates from school and Jill’s House, we will spend time finding a day program for her. It will take time, but we need to make sure we find the right place for her.”

“I wish Jill’s House could be available for Muna forever.”

“Muna makes us smile and laugh more than anyone. We have so much love for her! I believe that Muna has shown our family how to care and love for one another. She is such a blessing.”

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