Education centres in Saudi failing children with autism – claim parents

Saudi Arabia, – Parents of autistic children have claimed they are not getting enough financial support from education authorities.

The Saudi Gazette reports that Um Mohammad noticed her son was different from an early age and that she felt a numbing pain when doctors told her that her son had autism.

Um Mohammad said:

“It is difficult to describe my suffering. I have difficulty communicating with him and I do not know what he wants.”

She adds that her biggest concern is with the educational centers.

She spent SR27,600 in one year at educational centers for her son but did not see any improvement in his condition.

She said:

“This high cost is because my child has a severe case of autism, while the cost of such education for milder cases is only SR12,000 a year,”

She also told of how people closest to her stated to avoid her in case they caught the condition. She did not leave the house fur 4 years, “fearing my child would fall victim to such behavior from others,”

The Saudi Gazette reports that specialized centers have now refused to continue his education because he is severely autistic and they are unable to control him.

She spent around SR2,000 a month on special food, toys and games in an effort to help her child.

Um Mehiaf is another parent who has complained complained about the center where her autistic daughter, 12 receives treatment. She claims that they were more keen on taking her money than treating her child’s condition.

She said:

“I take my daughter to the center three times a week and it costs me SR1,500 a month but so far I have not noticed any improvement in my daughter’s condition,”

She hopes that charitable centers and the Ministry of Social Affairs will deal with these cases and take into account the psychological suffering of mothers and the costs involved.

Many families of autistic children are saying that specialized centers are needed for their children and that there needs to be an increase in annual subsidies to meet the increasing costs of living.

Autism and behavioral disorders specialist Huda Al-Haider said that:

“The early discovery and treatment of autism could have good results.

She adds:

“It is also very important to integrate autistic children with normal children as isolation can be damaging.”

Autism expert Dr. Khaled Ayyash, said that:

‘autistic children’s abilities and skills should be evaluated to find out their strengths and weaknesses.’

The full article in the Saudi Gazette can be found on the Al Al Arbiyaa News website