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Update from Syria: A father of a severely autistic boy shares their struggle

Several years ago, Yasser, a dentist and father of four children, including a severely autistic adolescent son, shared the story of how his family was struggling while living amongst the harrowing violence in the Syrian city of Aleppo. (You can read the full story on the “Escape from Aleppo” page). Below Yasser details his family’s terrifying experiences and the many challenges that they have faced and continue to face since they escaped from Aleppo in 2013.

On November 18, 2013, we decided to escape from Aleppo using my own car. We escaped despite the dangers on the road, where several vehicles had been bombed, and we watched those vehicles burn.

We were able to rent a house in Lattakia, and we started spending down our savings. We had hoped that the war would calm down so that we could come back to our house, but in reality the opposite happened.

The region where we were living in Lattakia was also subjected to bombing. On August 8, 2014, a huge explosion occurred near Teshireen University, close to the house where we were living.

While living in Lattakia, our savings began to shrink. We had to look for another source of funds to support our family so in December of 2015, I headed back to Kamishly, a small city northeast of Syria ruled by Kurdish forces.

It was easy to get a job in Kamishly and my mother, father, and brothers lived there as well. I was able to rent a private clinic and some of my friends donated a house for my family to live in free of charge. Unfortunately, several terrorist attacks by ISIS have occurred in Kamishly, too.

On December 30, 2015, a suitcase bomb was placed in a restaurant only 100 meters from my house. It killed 18 people.

In April of 2016, there was a battle between Kurdish forces and government forces that lasted for one week. During that time, we were forced to stay in our home.

In June of 2016, when the Syrian Orthodox Church patriarch visited Kamishly, a terrorist exploded himself only 50 meters from my house.

The largest explosion ever in Syria happened on July 27th, 2016. This was near the stadium where my son used to play football.

The real challenge has been and always is caring for our severely autistic adolescent son, Simon, amongst all of this terror and violence. Simon is unable to control his fear and starts to panic. It is difficult to determine how best to control him when faced with such extreme circumstances such as war and terrorist attacks. It is particularly challenging to help him when we are without access to any autism schools or centers.

I have been trying for years to get my family out of Syria, but thus far I have not been successful in finding a way out for us. Unfortunately, my application to Australia has been rejected.

This is our current situation. Can anybody help us?

Yasser is really hoping for a way out of Syria for his family. There are organizations, such as LifeLine Syria in Canada, that allow individuals and families to sponsor a refugee family from Syria. If you are interested in getting in contact with Yasser to offer assistance to him and his family, please contact the author of this article, Kristen Milhollin.

Submitted by Kristen Milhollin

The views expressed in this paper are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of the NLM Family Foundation.

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