Dragana Stojkovic (@Ecomama.dxb), originally from Serbia, is a full-time working mum of four, including 10-month-old twins, her four-year-old son and her two-year-old daughter Sofija, who has a rare hearing disorder. She tell us about her experience as a mother of a child with special needs in Dubai, and about where she has been able to find support in the emirate...
"We first noticed something different about Sofija when she was around three months old. She was unusually quiet compared to our older son and she didn't respond to sounds. The differences became more and more alarming, and we gradually learnt about Sofija's diagnosis between her third and tenth month.
"We found out about her diagnosis relatively quickly - for some families it takes much more time to convince doctors that something is not right. Which seems off to me; parents, more than anybody else, want everything to be all right with their child, but if they are telling you they have doubts, you better listen to them carefully.
"We discovered that Sofija has rare genetic disorder - de novo microdeletion on 2q chromosome - which causes her physical and communication delays, and profound hearing loss. She had cochlear implants surgery last year, so the little devices she is wearing are helping her to hear.
"Life is far from easy but I'm learning to reach a new level of zen every day. My special daughter is actually not that different from my other or any other children. She just loves to play and to feel loved and protected.
"My daughter has united my family more than anything else. We are now all on the same mission to provide her the best possible therapies and treatments she can have. Her grandparents always go above and beyond to help us, and also it melts my heart to see with what love and care her older brother treats her.
"The challenges special-needs children face are surprisingly very similar around the world, the main one being a lack of understanding and awareness, so we need to talk more about this. Our community of special-needs mums has been an amazing support to me. When it gets tough I always reach out to them, because no matter what challenges I'm facing, someone was on that journey before me and is willing to help.
"My hopes for Sofija's future are for her to be independent and happy - it's simple as that."