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UAE’s National Autism Policy: All you need to know

Team KT/Dubai
Filed on April 26, 2021
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These initiatives include autism diagnosis guidelines, national developmental screening programme, and launching early intervention centres all over the UAE.


Soon, there will be more centres, training programmes, and services for people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) under a new UAE policy.

The National Policy for Persons with Autism Spectrum Disorder, which was approved by the UAE Cabinet earlier this month, is set to raise the quality of their life, upgrade their skills, support their families and caregivers, and increase the public’s awareness of the disorder.

Hessa bint Essa Buhumaid, Minister of Community Development, said that under the policy, there will be 14 initiatives related to diagnosis, healthcare, human resources, inclusive education, awareness and society empowerment.

These initiatives include autism diagnosis guidelines, national developmental screening programme, and launching early intervention centres all over the UAE.

Currently, there are 27,000 people of determination in the country. Twelve per cent of them — or more than 3,000 — are comprised of those with autism.

Autism or ASD refer to a complex neurodevelopmental disorder in the brain associated with a malfunction in the development of sensory and linguistic perception. A person with ASD shows difficulty in social communication and interaction, in addition to limited and restricted patterns of behaviour.

In the UAE, students of determination have always been welcome in schools. As the new national autism policy seeks to maximise the potential of a child with ASD, it will further boost the inclusive education policy and inclusive transition guidelines. It will create an ‘assistant teacher’ position in public education; provide support services to students with ASD through partnerships; and introduce professional rehabilitation programmes. There are also intiatives for cultural and sports inclusion and career empowerment.

Buhumaid underscored that 300 students with ASD are currently enrolled in public schools and 598 are in private education sector. There are 95 centres for people of determination across the UAE, and 61 government and private centres serving people with autism.

The national policy not only empowers people with ASD but also supports their parents, caregivers and teachers, the minister added. It will update specialised autism programmes — such as professional diplomas in autism and training programmes for teachers— and introduce an awareness online platform and a family empowerment programme.

The policy also aims to provide the community with a reliable source of information about autism.

According to the World Health Organisation, one in 160 children all over the world are diagnosed with ASD. Boys are reportedly four times more likely to develop ASD than girls. Studies conducted over the last 50 years, revealed that the prevalence rate of such disorders is increasing globally. Research showed that this increase is brought on by heightened community awareness of symptoms, as well as the development of diagnostic tools and early screening procedures.

The national policy for autism puts a set of objectives related to early screening and accurate diagnosis. It will also provide comprehensive healthcare services and get more qualified specialists on board to deliver education, rehabilitation and therapies.

14 initiatives under the National Policy for Persons with Autism Disorder

>Autism diagnosis guidelines

>National developmental screening programme

> Launching early intervention centers all over the UAE

> Healthcare wellbeing standards

> Updating specialised autism programmes such as professional diplomas in autism and training programmes for teachers

> Autism awareness online platform

> Family empowerment programme

> Inclusive education policy

> Inclusive transition guidelines

> Creating an assistant teacher position in public education

> Providing support services for students with ASD

> Professional rehabilitation programme

> Cultural and sports inclusion programme

> Career empowerment programme

reporters@khaleejtimes.com





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