Thursday, October 15, 2009

Running for Change

Yesterday I went to visit the Dubai Autism Center to meet the management and to have a look around the facility. I was a bit nervous going to the center as I am an emotional person and I know that the visit would touch me deeply when I see the kids.

Mariana came with me and when we arrived at the facility I was impressed by the size of the building. I would later learn that the center is in desperate need to expand as there is a need for a bigger facility and more therapist. When we arrived we waited in the reception for Hayula, and we saw the first autistic family, also waiting in the reception. The boy was very active running around and I could see the affect this could have on a parent. You have to be very patient and understanding to be able to be around kids with autism, and hats off to all families having to deal with the disorder.

There is a new statistic released in the US: When I first started out with my marathon preparations, 1 out of 150 kids in the US had autism. The figure is now 1 in every 93 children. I in the UK this figure is 1 in every 84 are some more shocking facts:

1. Autism is the fastest growing development disability in the world.
2. 67 children are diagnosed with autism daily.
3. More children will be diagnosed with autism than with Aids, Diabetes and Cancer combined.
4. Boys are 4 times more likely to be diagnosed with Autism than girls.
5. There is NO CURE FOR AUTISM...........

We walked around the center and first thing I noticed that in most cases there was 1 on 1 therapy being done. The therapist have a very tough task working with autistic children but they are doing a great great job! The earlier a child can receive therapy the better the chances are they would respond positively to the treatment and move in to the high functional categories.

We met a couple of the children and a boy named Omar was quizzing me on movies such as Robocop and Spacejam! I was amazed about the detailed descriptions he was giving us about his favorite movies! What a cool boy! We moved on to some of the lower functional kids and I could see how much time and attention is needed to help these kids develop.

The Dubai Autism center focuses on:

a) Diagnoses
b) Intervention
c) Family Support

They are always looking for people who are willing to help with financial and sponsorship support. Here is a link if you would like to get involved or alternatively I can be contacted.

I will be visiting the center in the very near future and assist them where I can. I am in the process of looking at various ways to raise funds for the center as well as spreading the word on autism and getting as many people involved as possible.

There is still a perception out there that autism is not a real disorder and that parents are to blame for bad parenting. This is not true. Autism is real. Autism affect people from all backgrounds, social status and nationality.

Part of my awareness program is also to raise funds for the Ernie Els Foundation and donations can be made online at:

You can help me make a difference.

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