Kids at autism centre cheer celebrity visitors

DUBAI — Celebrities from the Arab and the Western world visited the students of Dubai Autism Centre (DAC) on Sunday. While the children, aged between 4 and 18, were mostly not aware of the celebrity status of the visitors, they still enjoyed their company.

By A Staff Reporter

Published: Tue 13 Nov 2007, 9:05 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 4:36 AM

For instance, six-year-old Mohammed could not stop clapping when they entered his classroom. He cheered and made enthusiastic noises while interacting with them. The stars smiled and shook hands with the children.

The celebrities, Egyptian actress Yousra, supermodel Rachael Hunter, Syrian actors Milad Youssef and Sulaf Fawakherji, Saudi singer Waad, Egyptian actor Tamer Hagras, and UAE rapper Kaz Money, spent over an hour with the children to get an insight into their lives.

For many like actress Yousra, the visit was an eye-opener. The actress told Khaleej Times, “I was quite ignorant and clueless about autism, except for some information from the Internet. This is the first time I met children with autism and this has made me realise that I need to know more about their condition, besides wanting to help them. I would like to spread awareness about autism and would like to make a donation soon for the cause.”

Touched by the warmth displayed by the kids, Rachael Hunter stressed the need to create more awareness about the condition so that people recognise the symptoms and help getting it detected early.

Kaz Money said he would love to have these children as special guests for one of their shows in Dubai.

Mohammad Al Emadi, director general-board member at DAC, observed: “We started a campaign with the Ministry of Education last year as part of which we went to schools and briefed teachers on how to diagnose autism early. We plan to do the same this year,” he said.

The school, which presently houses around 42 children from different nationalities, will move to another campus in two years where it will house some 150 children.

DAC staff briefed the visitors on the disorder and the kind of social and verbal setbacks children could face because of autism. The faculty also felt that frequent interaction with the children would help develop their social skills.

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