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UAE: How one village helped four kids of determination join big schools

James Jose /Dubai
james@khaleejtimes.com Filed on September 8, 2021
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They have since undergone therapy and are now officially studying in big schools.


Against all odds, four kids of determination in Dubai made it to mainstream schools this year after undergoing therapy at Sanad Village.

“We have had multiple students who joined before and graduated, but this is the first time that we are actually graduating more than one student at the same time. This is a very big achievement,” said Mahmoud Abdelrahim Mahmoud, programme director for early intervention at the village, one of the biggest facilities for people of determination in the Middle East.

Two children, Alia and Ghaly, were diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), while Reda and Waleed had multiple behavioural issues. They have since undergone therapy and are now officially studying in big schools.

“We are extremely proud of our students, and we are proud of their families as well because without their support, without the dedication, these kids wouldn’t be there,” Mahmoud said.

He admitted that it was a tough process, but everyone involved was determined to see these kids succeed.

“All of them had really challenging behaviours. They were non-compliant, they wouldn’t listen, wouldn’t follow any instructions, they couldn’t speak, they had zero interaction...They didn’t have academic knowledge at all,” he said.

Now, Reda and Ghaly have already completed their transition to mainstream schools, while Alia and Waleed are gradually moving ahead.

Sanad has desigend a school readiness programme, so that kids like them can go sit for a class and learn just like any other child.

“We target skills that has to be there in a student in order for us to help them integrate into a mainstream school, skills like social, behavioural, the physical ability and the language ability,” he said.

Besides behavioural issues, there were other obstacles along the way, some emerging from the Covid situation.

“It was hard for parents to get their children accepted not only because of the necessary requirements of schools. Part of this was the pandemic,” he said

“Schools wouldn’t be ready to accept such students easily. Many require shadow teachers and without a shadow teacher, it might be impossible to enrol students in an inclusion programme. However, from our side, we are launching a new initiative where we are going to be responsible for those shadow teachers who will go to schools with these students. We found that there is a gap during the transition.”

Sanad also works with special educational specialists in schools and offer advice on how to meet the needs of students of determination.

“(We share insights on) what needs to be done if a student engages in problem behaviour, how to prevent it, how to set up an environment inside a special education classroom,” Mahmoud said.

(Names have been changed to protect their identity and respect their privacy)

james@khaleejtimes.com

James Jose





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