Monday, October 19, 2009

Dubai Autism Center Information Sheet

Dubai Autism Centre (DAC) is a non-profit organization providing information, support, advice and training to professionals and parents of children with Autism. DAC was initiated after the issuance of a decree from H.H. Sheikh Maktoum Bin Rashid Al Maktoum in 2001 as a resource / counseling center and was launched as a school in 2003. Today, 49 students are provided with a holistic intervention program that includes academics and various therapies – behavioral, speech, occupational, music and play as well as professional medical care.

In addition to the intervention program the center has an internationally acknowledged assessment and diagnosis unit. The Centre also works toward facilitating a better community understanding of autism by launching periodical, public and targeted, awareness campaigns. The major awareness campaign is launched annually on the 2nd of April and lasts for the full month. The campaign is supported by TV, radio and press advertising as well as talk shows and several crowd pulling and Interest generating activities.

About Autism

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a lifelong developmental disorder. ASD usually affects the person’s verbal and non verbal communications as well as imaginative play and social skills. ASD transcends social, cultural and geographic boundaries. The incidence of Autism is increasing world wide with a 400% rise in the diagnosis of Autism in the last decade. One out of every 150 children is affected by ASD.

Dubai as per the rest of the world is seeing an increase in the number of people requesting services to support individuals affected by Autism. At the Dubai Autism Center alone, there is a 3 month waiting list for the assessment and diagnoses and 180 children on the waiting list for the school.

The Impact of Autism on Families

Having a child with Autism puts a lot of emotional, spiritual and financial burdens on the parents. Providing the ideal environment for children with Autism comes with a high cost of rehabilitation. In addition often one spouse has to sacrifice his/her job to stay home and take care of the child. Autism has also been known to put a strain on the rest of the family members and siblings.

Obstacles to Intervention

A major barrier to improve the health and wellbeing of children and families touched by Autism is the lack of knowledge and expertise. This coupled with the lack of public health programs limits access to care and early intervention. These challenges are further complicated by a shortage of experts and trained professionals.

Currently the center is operating at full capacity with 49 children enrolled in the center and another 180 waiting to be enrolled. There is also a three month waiting list for the assessment and diagnosis. The growing needs has made it a requirement to construct a purpose built center that can accommodate a greater number of children. The work on the new building was put on hold due to the economic crisis and the unavailability of financial aid.

DAC Strong Points

Specialized in Autism with a focused vision and mission.
The center has set clear short and long term strategies to cope with the growing demand and needs.
Provides holistic approach to intervention with each child having his/her own program.
Each child receives one to one care throughout the day except when group work is scheduled to improve the social and interaction skills.
Maintain high classroom standards by having an average of 4 children per classroom with a ratio of 1:2 OF special needs teacher to children.
Multi discipline and multicultural staff that share their expertise to improve the children’s capabilities.
Diversified therapies, activities and approaches to enhance each child’s learning experience.
Freedom to develop and learn from different disciplines and approaches to Autism intervention.
Strong management that adopts open door policies and horizontal structure for better communication and work environment.
The team is highly qualified and keeps abreast of the latest development through continuous training and self development. The team is highly respected in their fields locally and internationally with many awards to their name as an evidence of their achievements.
Team Building programs coupled with intensive staff training throughout the year
Systematic and well planned government outreach program to improve the conditions of the special needs sector and individuals with emphasis on Autism.
Creative in spreading awareness through awareness campaigns and PR activities
Strong outreach program involving all segments of the society.

Services Provided by the Center

- Individualized intervention programs
- Educational program
- Behavioral modification program
- Speech therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Movement therapy
- Music therapy
- Art therapy
- Computer literacy
- Art classes
- Prevocational training
- Social integration (field trips & out door activities)
- Assessment and Diagnosis
- Utilize a variety of assessment tools
- The team comprises of 6 professionals (The team include professionals from the various disciplines)

- Guide parents of newly diagnosed children to seek professional intervention program (the center is unable to cope with the demand)
- Organize and run the Parents support Club
- Invite speakers and keep up to date with new approaches/treatments
- Conduct outreach programs to schools, Social clubs, companies as well as private and semi private government organizations
- Spreading Awareness
- Several awareness campaigns are conducted every year to educate the public and encourage -parents to seek professional help.
- Develop several out reach programs to improve the quality of life to children with Autism and their families
- Training and Information
- Several training programs are organized every year to help various professionals in the field of Autism
- Provide consistent training to the employees
- A library with more than 550 books are made available to parents and professionals
- Translating and publishing books

The Center Fact Sheet

Number of classes 11
Number of Students 49 (all nationalities and ethnic background)
Average number of Students / classroom 4
Ratio of Special educators to students 2:1
Number of Staff 60 (professionals and administration)
Students admission age 2 – 16 (currently the center has 20 years old)

N.B: All activities carried out by the center including printing are sponsored by individuals and or business institutes.

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