top of page

Introducing Fasting during Ramadan for Neurodiverse Children

Updated: Mar 11


Introducing Fasting during Ramadan for Neurodiverse Children - The Occupational Therapy Hub


Ramadan is known as the fasting month for Muslims around the world. They will fast from fajr (dawn) to maghrib (twilight). There is no eating and drinking permitted during that period. Parents will encourage their children to learn fasting as part of the ritual this month, including families with neurodiverse children, before they reach adulthood.


Ramadan means adopting a new routine to the other months of the year. It can be challenging for children to start a new routine for just a month - and then go back to the previous daily routine.

As a Muslim occupational therapist, who works with neurodiverse children, I have personal and professional experience of supporting these activities. Here are several tips that parents can use to introduce fasting to their children - or occupational therapists can suggest to families they work with:



Before Ramadan


  1. Storytelling. Read a book about fasting during Ramadan. A social story book from Carol Gray is very useful to introduce a new routine.

  2. Use visual aids to help them visualise it. Pictures or videos are welcome. a) Suhoor : Eating in the very early morning (before dawn) b) Fasting : No eating and drinking from dawn to twilight c) Iftar : Break the fast at twilight time

  3. Use a countdown approaching the first day of Ramadan. Include when it starts and ends.



Introducing Fasting during Ramadan for Neurodiverse Children - The Occupational Therapy Hub


During Ramadan


  • Set the exact time for a child to wake up for suhoor every day. Please refer to prayer time to make enough time for a child to have a meal.

  • Prepare the child’s favourite meal during suhoor and break the fast to make them more excited.

  • Display the prayer schedule during Ramadan, so children know what time fasting starts (fajr time) and ends (maghrib time).

  • Use the iftar to celebrate the fasting of the day.

  • A graded approach! Set fasting duration time for several hours and gradually extend the time toward maghrib. It’s OK if the child wants to break the fast in the middle of the day, then continue fasting towards maghrib.

  • Use an analog clock to help the child understand that time has passed by and they are getting close to breaking the fast time.

Introducing Fasting during Ramadan for Neurodiverse Children - The Occupational Therapy Hub


  • Use the Ramadan calendar to track the days passing by. The child can mark off the day by crossing it, or putting a sticker on it.

  • Be ready to be the child’s co-regulator during the process. They have to deal with an unfamiliar and new routine - and sometimes it may cause negative emotions to come up.

  • Set expectations lower because it is a learning time; making mistakes or not achieving goals is part of the process!



Introducing Fasting during Ramadan for Neurodiverse Children - The Occupational Therapy Hub


Be ready to be the child’s co-regulator during the process. They have to deal with an unfamiliar and new routine - and sometimes it may cause negative emotions to come up.


 


Reference


Carol Gray Social Stories (online). Available from: https://carolgraysocialstories.com/. Accessed 5 March 2023.



Further reading


Birmingham Live (2022) Ramadan on the spectrum - 'how autism affects how I celebrate the holy month' (online). Available from: https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/ramadan-spectrum-how-autism-affects-23570286#. Accessed 5 March 2023.

2 Comments


I think it’s also important to point out that fasting is prohibited for those who are sick, on a journey, the elderly, pregnant, breastfeeding and also for children. It is not recommended that children fast but they can - as the article says - be encouraged to wake up for breakfast occasionally for example, so that they begin to get used to the concept. Some great ideas here though!

Like
Tia Aja
Tia Aja
Mar 06, 2023
Replying to

Thank you for the additional informations.

Like
bottom of page