Guest post by Adita Divecha, Karan’s mother
Last year, we (Karan, Devina and myself) went to get our Emirates ID cards done, but later on found out that since Karan was only 14 then, he did not require a card to be made.
So it was his turn this year, since he’d turned 15, to get the Emirates ID card. This time, Karan, his father (Rajiv) and myself went to the Emirates ID centre in Barsha.
When we went in, he was quiet, but started getting fidgety and making a few noises when he saw the crowd standing in a long line (most kids with autism don’t like crowded places). As I did last year, I spoke to the lady up front and asked if they could help us somehow because there was no way he would stand for too long without getting upset.
She sent us straight in to the supervisor, where they took all the details from Rajiv, while I sat with Karan. They were really nice about having to see us quickly, which was very helpful.
We had to get his photo taken there, so he sat in the chair, but when we asked him to look up, he ended up looking at the ceiling and closing his eyes. After multiple tries, he stared at the camera, but with one eye closed. After a few more tries, he looked straight with both his eyes open and they clicked immediately. But they ended up using the photograph we’d provided; I don’t think he looked at the camera as straight as he should have.
Next: fingerprinting. The person taking the fingerprints was there the last time we came and even though a year has passed, he remembered us! He asked if we’d come before to make sure.
First he held Karan’s right hand, while I spoke to him to keep him calm, and started rolling a finger from one side to the other (they have to take the prints of the finger in a sort of 360-degree way). Karan allowed him to do that for just three fingers before he decided he didn’t want to do this anymore. He refused to let anyone touch his hands.
Then, Rajiv, the fingerprinting man and the supervisor had to hold him, but Karan is quite strong and kept pushing. He did this without crying or showing he was angry. It’s funny, in retrospect, to see a 15-year-old boy nearly pushing three grown men away.
I was standing behind him, patting his back and reassuring him that everything was okay. Eventually, we finished all the fingers on the right hand, and had to move on to the palm. He did put his palm on the printing device but didn’t want to press it hard, so we had to apply the pressure for him.
It was with a lot of difficulty that we finished, but it was done! But then we still had the left hand to do as well.
Nothing doing, indicated Karan.
He stood up once he realized we had to move on to the other hand, pushed everyone away and refused to go near the chair again. Nothing would convince him to go back. Finally, they said it was okay. They said because he had autism and that was causing him to be uncomfortable with the procedure, they’d put in a special note for his application saying that because he wasn’t happy going through the necessary process, they’ve just taken one hand’s prints and that would suffice.
Even though Karan didn’t really cry through the entire time we were there, I could see the relief on his face when he figured out we were done.
As usual, we had people (those waiting in the centre for their applications) staring at Karan like he was some kind of pariah, I guess because he was rocking a bit now-and-then and making loud noises. Doesn’t matter so much but you’d think there would be more educated people in society nowadays. Pity.
But the staff at the centre were really helpful. Extremely understanding about it, and we had a very good experience with getting the card sorted with the least possible fuss. I can’t be thankful enough about that.