Sunday, February 10, 2008

Helping special needs children

Helping special needs children
By Bassma Al Jandaly, Staff Reporter GULF NES Published: February 09, 2008, 01:04

Dubai: The UAE takes very special care to create a conducive learning atmosphere for children with special needs.

If a person is planning to live and work in the UAE and if he has a child who is physically or mentally challenged there are several special schools that take care of such a child. The disabilities could range from hearing problems, mental abilities, autism, Down's Syndrome, attention deficit disorder or any other disability.

By UAE law children with disability have equal rights and opportunities like any other normal child.

Public and private schools here may not turn away a child on the basis of his or her disability.

People with special needs can have access to the benefits of education and enjoy equality of opportunity in schools and colleges.

One should be aware that there are few governmental centres for children with disabilities. Such centres usually accept children of any nationalities, but fees will depend on the child's case.

It is important to note that such centres have limited number of seats and many children are usually on the waiting list.

In order to enrol your child in such centres you as well as your child must have a valid residence visa.

Mentally challenged children of varying levels of disabilities who are between 3 years and 16 years can be enrolled in public or private Training Centre for Children with Special Needs. Such centres enrol children of all nationalities.

At any of the special needs centres one must submit medical report and passport copy with valid visa.

The child will receive help in areas such as speech and language therapy, movement therapy, early intervention and other therapies.

Most of these centres are run by funds raised from the community.

The main centre in the country is the Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services which is a school for the mentally challenged and it provides services to more than 2,000 children.

The city takes care of its wards from birth till the age of 25 years, and follows a no-rejection policy. Pupils of all nationalities are accepted.

Students must speak Arabic and undergo an evaluation process in order to determine the programmes needed for their rehabilitation.

However, children with extreme cases of epilepsy are not allowed.

Al Noor Centre for Children with Special Needs in Dubai run under the sponsorship of the Ministry of Social Affairs also takes care of children with special needs.

The centre helps special needs children from their early years to adulthood.

In Abu Dhabi there is the Centre for Language and Speech Impaired which helps students overcome impairment in speech and use of language both in Arabic and English.

Useful Information

30 schools to choose from

- There are more than 30 private and governmental centres for special needs people in the UAE.

- There are centres that handle children with varying levels of disability such as Down's Syndrome and Autism, and other conditions such as visual, hearing and physical impairment.

- There are early intervention programmes at these special needs centres for children below the age of three. One can visit Dubai Centre for People with Special Needs, Ras Al Khaimah Centre and Fujairah Centre.

- If you have an autistic child you can visit Dubai Autism Centre which is a non-profit organisation in serving children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. In Sharjah there is the Autism Centre Sharjah.

- Other schools that specialises in certain fields are Al Amal Kindergarten for the Deaf in Sharjah and Al Amal School for the Deaf in Sharjah.

- There are many private centres for special need children such as the ABA Centre for Special Needs in Ras Al Khaimah. It is a non-profit organisation that provides services for special needs children.

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