Parents of children with autism in UAE speak out to raise autism awareness

Dubai — Parents of children with autism in the UAE spoke of the daily challenges they face in raising children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in a bid to raise awareness on the developmental condition.

As the World Autism Awareness Day draws near, parents like Atiq Mubarak, father to six children— five of them on the spectrum— spoke about the struggle that comes with raising children with autism. He told:

“It affects them each in a slightly different way. The boys are hyperactive and very energetic, but Rashid is different.

“We would like the children to go to a normal school, it would be better for them. Qhalid is just 6, so we are hoping it will change during his school life.

“People act like they are stupid, but they are not. They say to me ‘why don’t you leave the children in the house?’ It is upsetting to hear.”

Al Jalila Foundation is one of the charitable organizations in Dubai that’s dedicated to provide support to both the children on the spectrum as well as their families.

With the help of the British University in Dubai, Al Jalila Foundation organized a program designed to extend help to families with children on the spectrum, offering professional parental advice to help them cope with caring for children with learning disabilities.

The program is offered both in English and in Arabic and is open to all nationalities for free. It aims to provide tools and resources intended to help families obtain the skills needed to ensure the continuity of care for the children— from their schools to their homes.

So far, around 200 of the families who availed of the course have completed it, and the foundation hopes to extend the program to even more families. Al Jalila Foundation chief executive Dr Abdulareem Al Olama told:

“We want communities and families to live in harmony with these children. We can help do that by first helping the parents.

“We transfer them to a therapist and show parents how they can help their child and continue that therapy at home. We have helped give them their lives back.

“For us to complete the cycle, we can educate teachers in a specialist curriculum so we can put the children back into mainstream education.

“It is too easy for schools to kick out these children. There is a law preventing this, but not enough parents know about it.”

Contributed by Althea Estrella Violeta

Source:Nick Webster on The National UAE: UAE parents speak out for autism awareness