Institutes Join Hands to Cater for Autistic Students

ABU DHABI — New England Centre for Children (NECC) joined the Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC) to cater for the special education needs of students with autism and other disabilities in the emirate of Abu Dhabi.

By Anwar Ahmad

Published: Mon 21 Dec 2009, 9:16 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 9:30 AM

Dr Mugheer Khamis Al Khaili, director general of ADEC said, “ADEC is currently setting up the foundation for the future of special education in the emirate of Abu Dhabi and NECC is a vital resource in this effort.”

Dr Al Khaili singed an MoU with Saif Bader Al Qubaisi, chairman of SEHA, for the official transfer of responsibilities of the NECC from SEHA to ADEC on Sunday here.

NECC, founded in the US in 1975, opened in Abu Dhabi in 2007 under the supervision of Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA). It is a world-leading education facility for students with autism and related disabilities.

“We expect that ADEC’s partnership with the NECC will be fruitful because of the shared values and philosophy of both organisations that students with disabilities should be included and integrated within our society,” Dr Al Khaili said.

There are 36 students in the NECC, in which two are nationals and the rest from different nationalities. Around 90 students will be served in the larger building that would come up by 2012.

Approximately around 18 centres are serving the community’s special need pupils in the emirate but this is the first time any centre in moving to the ADEC, said Annemarie Neubecker, educational advisor, schools development unit at ADEC.

Dr Al Khaili said, the NECC currently educates 36 students between the ages of three and nine providing specialised curriculum and individual handling.

This transfer, for all practical purposes, will bring no disruption or change to the student programme as they return to school in January. However, the long-term and symbolic implications of this move are particularly significant, Dr Al Khaili said. He added every child in the emirate should have the opportunity to receive quality education that maximises their potential and mould them into independently thinking individuals with the capacity to contribute to the social and economic development of the nation.

ADEC is placing extra emphasis on the importance of providing facilities for those individuals who require resources outside the general education system, Dr Al Khaili said.

L. Vincent Strully, founder and CEO of NECC, said, “The centre has made a long-term commitment to the people of Abu Dhabi in transforming the lives of many more children who suffer from autism.”

Autism is a developmental disability that is characterised by impaired social interaction, difficulties with verbal and nonverbal communication, and unusual, repetitive, or limited activities and interests.

It stems from a neurological disorder that affects the development of the different parts of the brain, particularly those areas involving social interaction and communication.

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