Coronavirus Pandemic

Covid-19 in UAE: ‘Pre-travel PCR test for kids of determination tough’

Dhanusha Gokulan (Principal Correspondent)/Dubai Filed on March 20, 2021
Supplied photo

Parents of children with autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder say their kids find it impossible to voluntarily cooperate with medical professionals.

Parents of children of determination are appealing to the authorities to exempt their kids from undergoing pre-travel polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests to detect Covid-19.

Parents of children with autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder say their kids find it impossible to voluntarily cooperate with medical professionals while they collect nasal swabs or administer Covid-19 vaccinations.

A few parents also noted that they were forced to turn away from primary health care centres because their children began to display aggressive, self-destructive behaviours and refused to allow nurses to touch them while administering doses or collecting samples.

Safia Bari, director of Special Needs Future Development Centre, said that at least 50 parents in her network are now facing this issue.

“Children with autism are not comfortable with others touching them. My daughter Nusrat, who is also a special needs individual, is extremely uncomfortable around medical professionals. They make her nervous and her fingernails start turning blue.

“In one case, we have a youth who is 6ft tall and weighs 100kg. It is impossible to restrain him just to collect Covid-19 samples. To handle them and get them to cooperate is extremely difficult,” she added.

Parents also told Khaleej Times that in some cases they’ve had at least four to five adults hold their children so medics could collect the samples. “Many parents have not travelled outside the UAE for some time now. They need to go to their home countries for various purposes including treatment of their children. The kids are monitored 24/7 by their parents. These kids do not go around touching any surfaces and are comfortable wearing masks,” explained Bari.

Kalpana D’Souza, mother of 21-year-old autistic youth Sachio D’souza, said her son detests anyone touching his face. “Fortunately, he is an independent child and has not had any illnesses for a long time. I have to travel to India soon and I most probably will not be able to take him.”

Kalpana tried to get Sachio vaccinated recently, but even after trying for one-and-a-half hours, he refused to take the jab. “He is a student of Al Noor Training Centre for Persons with Disabilities. Instead of Sachio, the school has requested us (parents) to take the test every fortnight. It is helpful for us because Sachio will not cooperate. He does not like us cutting his nails either,” she stated.

‘They cannot wait for long hours’

Seema Shijo, mom to Alan Thomas, aged nine, has autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. “We haven’t travelled to India in two-and-a-half-years. We are planning to go next week but getting a PCR test done is very difficult.”

Seema said the experience is extremely traumatising for her son. “The last time when we did a PCR test, several medics had to hold him to collect the sample, causing further trauma,” she said.

Another mum Usha Jain, mum of 26-year-old daughter Rima Jain, born with Down Syndrome, said: “She is OK with giving the PCR samples and she has also taken both doses of the Covid-19 vaccine. However, if we have to travel back to India, she cannot sit at the airport for four hours waiting for the test results. She gets very hyperactive and behaves difficult. If we can exit the airport without any hassles that would assist us greatly.”

Safia Bari, director of Special Needs Future Development Centre, said she has met with officials Consulate-General of India in Dubai and put forward a proposal to exempt these kids from pre-travel testing.


Dhanusha Gokulan

Originally from India, Dhanusha Gokulan has been working as a journalist for 10 years. She has a keen interest in writing about issues that plague the common person and will never turn down a human interest story. She completed her Bachelor in Arts in Journalism, Economics and English Literature from Mangalore University in 2008. In her spare time, she dabbles with some singing/songwriting, loves travelling and Audible is her favourite mobile application. Tweet at her @wordjunkie88

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