After-school program helps raise autism awareness in UAE

Goals UAE

image taken from the Goals UAE Facebook page

Abu Dhabi, UAE – An after-school football program geared towards integrating children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and raising awareness regarding the disorder in the community has recently been developed.

Goals UAE was founded by Khawla Barley, the parent of a child with autism who noticed that there was a lack of adequate social programs and extracurricular available for children on the spectrum to participate in. Barley felt that unlike in the United States where there are a large number of organized activities provided for children with special needs, youngsters with autism in the UAE often did not have the opportunity to make social connections.

She subsequently began the program which holds training sessions at the Al Khubairat campus and receives the assistance of both ProActive Soccer School’s staff and professional advisers hailing from the New England Centre for Children.

Although the program is currently still in its pilot phase of development with plans to expand the initiative to include more activities, it has already been a resounding success for families. Michelle Ziolkowski, the mother of a son enrolled in the program asserts:

“When I see my son out there, and he’s enjoying it more every week, just from a personal perspective, it just makes me incredibly happy.”

Source: Naser Al Wasmi on The National UAE website: Football training helps integrate autistic children in UAE