In a world full of challenges, be a mentor to a child- Sheza Irfan

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Sheza Irfan is the Founder of “Advokids- Untangle Little Minds”. She is a Play Therapist, Facilitator for Inclusion, Dyslexia Advocate, Motivational Speaker, and a Podcaster. She aims to bring awareness and acceptance in the Middle East for differently-abled children and empower SEN (special educational needs) parents. She has given various talks on Dyslexia, Inclusion, and Diversity on different platforms.

1. What is the mission of “Advokids- Untangle Little Minds”?

The mission is to create awareness in society about how differently-abled children can be just as productive and can enjoy life as anyone else. We need to understand how they are different, recognize their strengths, and make an effort to include them in all aspects of life.

2. What inspired you to establish this initiative?

My 9-year-old son, who has Dyslexia. Dyslexia is a learning difficulty that affects your ability to read, spell, and write. Since we lack awareness of learning difficulties in the Middle East, differently-abled children have very limited to no opportunity for education here. I have been working in the education sector for over 15 years now. Not having inclusive departments in schools worries me that in 2020 we are trying to make people understand what Neurodiversity is. Every child should get an education and that is their right. I want to encourage parents to accept and embrace their child’s different-abilities and empower them to take care of their mental health. Parenting a differently-abled child is a tough job and parents need to be counseled to understand their child’s condition and move forward without doubts and blame.

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3. How important are conversations and discussions in personality development?

Conversations and discussions are keys to developing your personality, exchanging thoughts and ideas, and listening to each other. We build the capacity for empathy and experience the joy of being heard and of being understood.

4. Why do you think some children are reluctant to share their feelings with their parents?

A child who fears suppression or shutting down by parents will have difficulty expressing, managing, and coping with his/her feelings. They don’t have the vocabulary or the feelings of safety to express themselves. These feelings then come out in an unhealthy way that shows them acting-out. When they act out and do not cooperate, please try to look beneath the behavior. Allow children to be sad, don’t control their feelings.

I would like to recommend a book here for parents, it is a practical guide for managing emotions. I think it’s a fabulous tool and an easy read. I recommend this to any parent that walks through my door. It is titled, “SOS help for Emotions” by Lynn Clark

5. Do you think Pakistan’s educational system encourages children to open up about their feelings?

To encourage children to open up and express themselves, we need to promote critical thinking in Pakistan’s educational system. Our children study under much pressure to write the lengthy answers to the questions they have prepared from past papers; we expect them to do ratification and not emphasize developing thinking skills or allow the child to express their views.

6. How can professionals and academicians be featured on the podcasts of Advokids?

Professionals or academics who have interesting stories or perspectives can share them with us with a brief intro at this email: advokids.untanglelittleminds@gmail.com

7. Your message for the youth of Pakistan?

Do not fear failure or rejection; use it as a fuel for your success. Use it to become the best version of yourself. Do not give anyone the power to pull you down or make you feel bad about yourself. These people come in your life to remind you how you should NOT be. Lastly, find a purpose in life, make a difference in someone’s life, by doing that, you are somewhere making a difference in yours too.


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