Early intervention key to treatment of autism

DUBAI — Early diagnosis, detection and early intervention is the key to starting therapeutic treatment of the developmental disorder, autism, experts said yesterday.


Asma Ali Zain

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Published: Sun 6 Apr 2008, 9:05 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 4:45 PM

A senior expert revealed that at least 90 autistic children were awaiting entry into Dubai Autism Centre (DAC), the only centre offering therapeutic treatment for the disorder in Dubai.

On the sidelines of the First Practitioners Conference on Autism: Learn the Signs, Act Early!, Mohammed Al Emadi, Director-General and Board Member of DAC, told Khaleej Times that at present, there were 43 children at the centre.

"We cannot accommodate more than four children in a class at a time and to attend to them there are two special needs educators," he explained.

He also pointed out that there were no studies on the disorder in the UAE.

"We want the health authorities to pay attention to this disorder which is being neglected in the country," he added.

Autism is the most common condition in a group of developmental disorders known as the Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs).

It is characterised by impaired social interaction, problems with verbal and non-verbal communication, unusual, repetitive, or severely limited activities and interests.

Al Emadi said that no time-frame could be given to those waiting as the maximum 'treating' period for an in-house child was 25 years.

"We can offer help until the age of 25, and after this nothing more can be done. So until then, partly we may not have any place for new admissions," he said.

He also said that, at present, 19 of the 43 children in DAC were UAE nationals while the remaining were from other nationalities.

DAC, established in 2001, provides specialist services for people with autism and those who care for them. DAC has 43 students, 11 classes, 50 staff and 10 special needs professionals.

Earlier, Minister of Health Humaid Mohammed Obaid Al Qutami inaugurated the one-day conference at Dubai Knowledge Village. "This is an important conference that aims at asserting the importance of early diagnosis and early intervention of the Autism Spectrum Disorder. Besides, the importance of early intervention is highlighted by various international studies done recently for children under two years of age," said the minister in his inaugural address.

The conference was organised by DAC under the patronage of Shaikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, Chairman of the Executive Council of Dubai and Chairman of DAC as part of the international awareness month of autism.

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