Sharia stood immobile in front of the television, transfixed by its images, unaware of the world around her. Her family called her name over and over again, but she did not respond. It was that moment when they knew something was wrong.
Initially, they thought it was a hearing problem. When they found nothing wrong, they decided to take 2-year-old Sharia to a specialist at an early detection center in 2009.
"Within five minutes of looking at Sharia, (the specialist) said that she has autism," said Sharia’s father, Fawad Siddiqui. "A very clear case of it."
Siddiqui, 38, and his wife, Ayza Sheikh, were under the impression that Sharia was simply a late talker. Originally from Pakistan, the Siddiquis had no relatives to advise them on their first child.
Speech, occupational and behavior therapies helped some. But Sharia still struggled with communication.
Then, in 2010, Apple’s iPad was released.
Photos courtesy of and copyright stock.xchng, http://www.sxc.hu/