Portraits » Ahmed and Zia

At age 21, Ahmed is a quiet, independent young man who attends a community integration program at a local college. Born in Toronto, Ahmed lives with his younger sister and parents. His parents migrated from Guiana in the 1980s. They met in Canada and were married here. They have a house in a newer subdivision in a suburb and both work in well-paid, long-term careers in Toronto. His mother, Zia, has an administrative job in an academic institution and his father is a mechanic working for a transit authority.

Zia describes Ahmed generally functioning as an 8 year-old and states that he is more mature in some areas. People who do not know him will not know that he has a disability because he appears “normal”. Ahmed was born premature at 29 weeks. He was on a ventilator for 6 weeks and spent the first 4 months of his life at Women’s College Hospital. The doctor said he would not make it. He has no specific medical conditions. He was assessed at age 6 and was expected to never read. Ahmed does read and do simple math. He has a mild intellectual disability. He has done well in school according to Zia and has successfully done job placements.

Zia indicates that Ahmed is spoiled by his father, while she tries to teach him what is right. She says that Ahmed’s sister has a lot of patience for him. As a family, they are very involved in their community through their local mosque. In fact, Zia has taught Ahmed some verses from the Quran and they recite them daily. Ahmed is also close to his cousins and extended family.

Although Zia expects family to be involved in his life in the future, they have no will or formal plan in place. Zia does not want to put such a responsibility on family because she feels it is an imposition with many effects and consequences. She knows that he will have to be in a group home eventually, but is very concerned about him maintaining his religion. She does not feel that any service exists out there that would meet their expectations as such. She is also very concerned about him being abused. She hopes that the Muslim community establishes a residence so that Ahmed will practice his religion the same way as he has been used to in his home.

Ahmed’s father brings up the possibility of marriage, but Zia chooses not to engage with the topic.

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