With nine children, aged two to 20, Madam Tahirah Mohamed, 44, has plenty to do. Plus six of her kids have special needs. They have inspired the stay-at-home mother to become an articulate advocate for inclusivity. Her first and fifth children, Muhammad Huzaifah, 20, and Muhammad Talhah, nine, have autism spectrum disorder, while the second child, Muhammad Mu’az, 17, has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Huzaifah also has obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Her sixth to eighth children, twins Muhammad Ziyad and Muhammad Zayid, seven, and four-year-old Muhammad ‘Abbas, have global development delay. This is an umbrella term that refers to significant delays in one or more areas of emotional, mental, or physical growth.
Meeting them for the first time, one cannot help but be impressed by how organised the family is. The older children pair up with their younger siblings during the trek across Tampines Central to find a nice photo spot for this article. It turns out they have been trained to operate on a buddy system. And while posing at an iconic mangosteen-themed playground, the kids are cooperative and well-behaved.
First-born Huzaifah was nine when his unpredictable meltdowns were finally diagnosed as high-functioning ASD, or what was formerly known as Asperger’s syndrome.