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Consulate of The United States and Marine Security Guard Detachment Conducts

Consulate of The United States and Marine Security Guard Detachment Conducts "Toys for Tots" for ATF students.

Published April 13, 2017
Author Brian

Dubai, UAE - On the 13th of April 2017, The Consulate of the United States and Marine Security Guard Detachment held "Toys for Tots" event for the children of Autism Trust Foundation. The event kicked off with a parade lead by the Royal Riders UAE, it started from Jumeirah Road going to the consulate of the United States of America.

Employees of the consulate welcomed the kids, ATF therapist, administrators and the riders as they arrived in the said event. The Marines waited inside the Consulate to surprise the ATF kids with toys. The children expressed their thank you as they hug and greeted the US Marines. Mr. Paul Ramsey Malik, Council General, expressed his thank you with a token given to ATF Deputy Chairman, H.E Fahad Bin Al Sheikh and in return a certificate of gratitude was given by Mr. Al Sheikh to the Marines and U.S Consulate.

During the event, Royal Riders and people from the consulate showed their support for Autism as they showcase their widest smile for the #ISUPPORTAUTISM campaign of the ATF, they were photographed holding an I support autism sign to be posted on ATF's social media. The 2 and half hour event ended with a lunch and more toys to be brought home were given to the children.

Wajeed Parker

Wajeed Parker

Published November 01, 2016

MD in Arts Sociology
BA in Sociology

At the age of 28, Wajeed Parker from South Africa was diagnosed just recently with Autism. He knew he's different. A belief which blossomed at a very young age and consumed his ever-curious mind for wisdom.

Bearing this overwhelming emotional journey to his lifelong dreams, Wajeed Parker has gloriously emerged in his academic endeavors.

Not only did he finish his Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, an achievement which borne out of pure motivation, but, also, his work experiences, which, of course, validated his intelligence and of course his well-being.

Perhaps, the world shall consider this enduring battle to success his crowning glory, a shining trophy finally brought home.

It's otherwise a heartbreaking revelation for someone like Wajeed who has been traumatized by an unexpected turned of events. After thieves broke into their house in 2013, this resulted in the painful death of his father. A rather dire situation in which he struggled spiritually and emotionally. It was frustrating to note that this turmoil have almost lost his sense of balance and his sense of will power to face what lies ahead in the future. He thought of giving up his Research Study but because of the ever supportive family members and of his mentor, he did not falter into hopelessness. He survived from all of this. His courage helped him focus and driven to make a difference.

Clenching with his MD in Arts Sociology, Mr. Parker holds this universal message that parents need to relook at their children (as early as possible) to assess any signs of autistic behaviors. He also believed that a strong family bond is one great motivational factor to support them in achieving their aspirations, goals, and dreams.

The Autism Trust Foundation (ATF) is so proud to embrace this one remarkable individual whose journey is always a living testament for #AutismPride.

Social Anxiety in Children and Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Social Anxiety in Children and Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Published October 27, 2016

Despite the high prevalence of social anxiety in individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), there is little agreement on how to best assess such problems in this population. Some evidence in support of the reliability of existing measures exists. There are concerns about inflated estimates of the co-occurrence of social anxiety because of symptom overlap with ASD diagnostic criteria, and the diagnostic sensitivity of existing measures is questionable.

Anxiety is recognized as a common co-occurring problem among individuals with autism spectrum disorder. Social anxiety, in particular, is common among individuals with ASD who do not have co-occurring intellectual disability.
Indeed, in the recently published Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.; DSM-5; American Psychiatric Association [APA]), it is stated that social anxiety is a hallmark of ASD.

Research indicates that considerable debate exists regarding the nosology of anxiety in people with ASD and whether social anxiety is better characterized as a part of ASD or a comorbid disorder. Even though there is an overlap in diagnostic criteria between social anxiety disorder (SAD) and ASD, there is little empirical guidance on how to most accurately assess symptoms of social anxiety in people with ASD. The uncertain reliability and validity of currently utilized measures to assess anxiety in individuals with ASD and the need for the development of measures that assess the unique and distinct features of anxiety in individuals with ASD underscore this debate. Some people with ASD may experience symptoms of social anxiety, although they may not meet diagnostic criteria for SAD.

The DSM-5 (APA) currently specifies that when symptoms of another disorder, including anxiety disorders, are present and fulfill diagnostic criteria for that disorder (e.g., SAD), the disorder is diagnosed and considered comorbid to the ASD; however, for a SAD diagnosis, symptoms (e.g., fear, avoidance) must not be better accounted for by ASD. Also, some individuals with ASD may not meet diagnostic criteria for SAD due to lack of interference with daily activities specifically attributable to the social anxiety.

There is evidence that the presence of anxiety and physiological hyper arousal contributes to, or exacerbates, social disability in ASD. In turn, social disability (e.g., severe and pervasive lack of age-appropriate social skills) appears to contribute, perhaps directly as well as indirectly via negative interactions with peers and social rejection, to heightened anxiety in social situations. A realistic worry about social failure and negative evaluation from peers has been associated with greater cognitive ability in youth with ASD, who may have increased self-awareness and desire for social engagement and friendship, but experience social confusion and lack the ability to establish and maintain relationships successfully.
As such, individuals' social deficits associated with ASD may contribute to symptoms of social anxiety, such as increased social avoidance due to realistic fears of negative evaluation, rejection, and victimization. Individuals with ASD sometimes evade social situations due to a lack of desire to share enjoyment with others or a lack of social reciprocity (APA). However, social disinterest cannot be assumed to underlie all social avoidance in individuals with ASD. Some social avoidance and isolation may be due to fear of rejection or peer judgment, as is seen in typically functioning individuals with social anxiety. Avoidance of speaking in class or at work, going to social events, and participating in extracurricular activities and a lack of same-age peers may be indicative of the core deficits associated with ASD or social anxiety. In some cases, reality-based fears of rejection fuel avoidance of such situations.
Thus, the processes underlying social avoidance should be considered when determining whether symptoms are better accounted for by ASD or social anxiety.
Clinicians may be subject to a "diagnostic overshadowing bias", or the attribution of symptoms to the previously diagnosed condition (ASD) rather than a separate but co-occurring mental disorder, in situations such as this

The accurate assessment of social anxiety is important as, in typically developing populations, heightened anxiety has been related to limited social networks, poor self-esteem, and depressed performance in social interactions. In individuals with ASD, it is likely that social anxiety exerts a similar adverse impact on functioning. Some research has demonstrated that high anxiety covaries with ASD severity, suggesting that social anxiety may be related to behavioral avoidance, social deficits, hostility, tantrums, rigidity, and an exacerbation of speech fluency problems. As it has been demonstrated that cognitive behavioral therapy targeting anxiety leads to ASD symptom decline as well as anxiety symptom reduction.

Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism Spectrum Disorder

Published October 17, 2016
Autism Spectrum Disorder
Learn the signs and ask for help if you're concerned.

What is autism spectrum disorder?

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a term for a group of developmental disorders described by:
  • Lasting problems with social communication and social interaction in different settings
  • Repetitive behaviors and/or not wanting any change in daily routines
  • Symptoms that begin in early childhood, usually in the first 2 years of life
  • Symptoms that cause the person to need help in his or her daily life

The term "spectrum" refers to the wide range of symptoms, strengths, and levels of impairment that people with ASD can have. The diagnosis of ASD now includes these other conditions:

  • Autistic disorder
  • Asperger's syndrome
  • Pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified
Although ASD begins in early development, it can last throughout a person's lifetime.

What are the signs and symptoms of ASD?

Not all people with ASD will show all of these behaviors, but most will show several.
People with ASD may:
  • Repeat certain behaviors or have unusual behaviors
  • Have overly focused interests, such as with moving objects or parts of objects
  • Have a lasting, intense interest in certain topics, such as numbers, details, or facts
  • Be upset by a slight change in a routine or being placed in a new or overstimulating setting
  • Make little or inconsistent eye contact
  • Tend to look and listen less to people in their environment
  • Rarely seek to share their enjoyment of objects or activities by pointing or showing things to others
  • Respond unusually when others show anger, distress, or affection
  • Fail or be slow to respond to their name or other verbal attempts to gain their attention
  • Have difficulties with the back and forth of conversations
  • Often talk at length about a favorite subject but won't allow anyone else a chance to respond or notice when others react indifferently
  • Repeat words or phrases that they hear, a behavior called echolalia
  • Use words that seem odd, out of place, or have a special meaning known only to those familiar with that person's way of communicating
  • Have facial expressions, movements, and gestures that do not match what they are saying
  • Have an unusual tone of voice that may sound sing-song or flat and robot-like
  • Have trouble understanding another person's point of view, leaving him or her unable to predict or understand other people's actions

People with ASD may have other difficulties, such as sensory sensitivity (being sensitive to light, noise, textures of clothing, or temperature), sleep problems, digestion problems, and irritability. People with ASD can also have many strengths and abilities. For instance, people with ASD may:

  • Have above-average intelligence
  • Be able to learn things in detail and remember information for long periods of time
  • Be strong visual and auditory learners
  • Excel in math, science, music, and art

Noticing ASD in Young Children

Some babies with ASD may seem different very early in their development. Others may seem to develop typically until the second or even third year of life, but then parents start to see problems.

How is ASD diagnosed?

Doctors diagnose ASD by looking at a child's behavior and development. Young children with ASD can usually be reliably diagnosed by age 2.
Older children and adolescents should be screened for ASD when a parent or teacher raises concerns based on observations of the child's social, communicative, and play behaviors.
Diagnosing ASD in adults is not easy. In adults, some ASD symptoms can overlap with symptoms of other mental health disorders, such as schizophrenia or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). However, getting a correct diagnosis of ASD as an adult can help a person understand past difficulties, identify his or her strengths, and obtain the right kind of help.

Diagnosis in Young Children

Diagnosis in young children is often a two-stage process:

General Developmental Screening During Well-Child Checkups

Every child should receive well-child check-ups with a pediatrician or an early childhood health care provider. Specific ASD screening should be done at the 18- and 24-month visits.
Earlier screening might be needed if a child is at high risk for ASD or developmental problems. Those at high risk include those who:

  • Have a sister, brother, or other family member with ASD
  • Have some ASD behaviors
  • Were born premature, or early, and at a low birth weight

Parents' experiences and concerns are very important in the screening process for young children. Sometimes the doctor will ask parents questions about the child's behaviors and combine this information with his or her observations of the child. Children who show some developmental problems during this screening process will be referred for another stage of evaluation.

Additional Evaluation

This evaluation is with a team of doctors and other health professionals with a wide range of specialties who are experienced in diagnosing ASD. This team may include:

  • A developmental pediatrician-a doctor who has special training in child development
  • A child psychologist and/or child psychiatrist-a doctor who knows about brain development and behavior
  • A speech-language pathologist-a health professional who has special training in communication difficulties
The evaluation may assess:
  • Cognitive level or thinking skills
  • Language abilities
  • Age-appropriate skills needed to complete daily activities independently, such as eating, dressing, and toileting

Because ASD is a complex disorder that sometimes occurs along with other illnesses or learning disorders, the comprehensive evaluation may include:

  • Blood tests
  • A hearing test

The outcome of the evaluation will result in recommendations to help plan for treatment.

Diagnosis in older children and adolescents

Older children who begin showing symptoms of ASD after starting school are often first recognized and evaluated by the school's special education team and can be referred to a health care professional. Parents may talk with their child's pediatrician about their child's difficulties with social interaction, including problems with subtle communication, such as understanding tone of voice or facial expressions, body language, and lack of understanding of figures of speech, humor, or sarcasm. Parents may also find that their child has trouble forming friendships with peers. At this point, the pediatrician or a child psychologist or psychiatrist who has expertise in ASD can screen the child and refer the family for further evaluation and treatment.

Diagnosis in adults

Adults who notice the signs and symptoms of ASD should talk with a doctor and ask for a referral for an ASD evaluation. While testing for ASD in adults is still being refined, adults can be referred to a psychologist or psychiatrist with ASD expertise. The expert will ask about concerns, such as social interaction and communication challenges, sensory issues, repetitive behaviors, and restricted interests. Information about the adult's developmental history will help in making an accurate diagnosis, so an ASD evaluation may include talking with parents or other family members.

What are the treatments for ASD?

Treating ASD early and getting proper care can reduce a person's difficulties and increase his or her ability to maximize strengths and learn new skills. While there is no single best treatment for ASD, working closely with the doctor is an important part of finding the right treatment program.


There are a few classes of medications that doctors may use to treat some difficulties that are common with ASD. With medication, a person with ASD may have fewer problems with:

  • Irritability
  • Aggression
  • Repetitive behaviors
  • Hyperactivity
  • Attention problems
  • Anxiety and depression

Who is affected by ASD?

ASD affects many people, and it has become more commonly diagnosed in recent years. More boys than girls receive an ASD diagnosis.

What causes ASD?

Scientists don't know the exact causes of ASD, but research suggests that genes and environment play important roles.
Researchers are starting to identify genes that may increase the risk for ASD
ASD occurs more often in people who have certain genetic conditions, such as Fragile X syndrome or tuberous sclerosis.
Many researchers are focusing on how genes interact with each other and with environmental factors, such as family medical conditions, parental age and other demographic factors, and complications during birth or pregnancy.
Currently, no scientific studies have linked ASD and vaccines.
Autism Trust Foundation Center - Dubai (ATF)

Autism Trust Foundation Center - Dubai (ATF)

Published April 13, 2016
Author ATF

UAE Dubai, April 13, 2016: The Autism Trust Foundation has announced its new humanitarian initiative that seeks to provide free treatment for a number of forty children with autism in the United Arab Emirates, The initiative aims to provide the necessary care and treatment for children and families less fortunate in the community and who are unable to pay the costs required to provide the necessary treatment and care for their children. The organization will start receiving the applications and work to determine the mechanisms of who will be accepted and the obligation to provide free service according to specific terms and after making sure that the families don't have the ability to provide care for their children.

H.E / Fahed bin Al Shaikh, Chairman of the Board: this initiative has been formed to contribute to provision of free Therapies for people with Autism we have this idea that we hope that it will service this category of society and contribute to Eradicate the burdensof needy families.

Autism is on the rise and is one of the most common conditions in the world at large, and studies suggest that there is one born with autism in every 68 new birth, autistic children and adults up until now have been in isolation from society and limiting their ability to social networking with others. The reason is apparent with the conventional methods of education this condition cannot be tapped into. There are Therapies and now training programs that are now available to help children and young adults integrate into the society which will serve to dismantle the social isolation and enhance more integration.

Mrs. Paria Rafi Board Member of the Autism Trust Foundation said: "Global practices have shown that early intervention helps people to overcome the isolation that enables them to integrate as participative individuals in our society and communities. However, the training and integration requires a consistent approach to facilitate this as a possible. The welfare programs that are currently available are expensive and not everyone is able to provide therapeutic services for a child with autism and given the complexity of the subject and the need for experts in speech therapy, Occupational Therapy and Behavioral therapist. The child needs the therapy sessions between 7 to 10 hours a week. "

Speaking about the initiative and the services to be provided by the institution details, Bin Shaikh said: "The initiative to provide comprehensive services for children under the supervision of the global Professor HoosainEbrahim from the University of Minnesota United States who specializes in autism. We have also signed an agreement with Rami Hamid center medical Services to provide analysis and medical examination to detect any increase in the rates of concentration metals in children with autism, studies have shown that there is a strong relationship between the concentration of metals in the bodies of children and behavioral disorders, including autism. "

In the details of the initiative Ms. Jennifer Randive, a Board member of the Autism Trust Foundation said: the Foundation will gather the best international practices in this area and provide comprehensive services for children starting from diagnosis, which will be under the supervision of Prof. Hoosain Ebrahim, a specialist in autism and winning the five-graduate degrees from prestigious universities in the areas of behavioral disorders and autism. Professor Ibrahim will work to diagnose cases and determine treatment program in collaboration with the University of Minnesota. As part of the agreement with Hamid Medical Center the child will undergo with the medical examination designed to determine the proportions of concentrate minerals and salts so they can then determine the diet to restore the balance and control these metals that have the effect on the child behavior.

Commenting on the initiative, Mrs. Fatima Al Jaber, a Board member of the Autism Trust Foundation said: " This initiative is geared for all families that are unable to provide care and treatment for their children, regardless of their nationality or any other considerations is the inability to afford treatment.

We have worked hard to achieve this initiative, which is the first of its kind in the UAE and it will look at the conditions families with low-income and if the number of applications exceeds the expected we will then open another center after the start of the new center.

Professor Hossain Ebrahim Said: "We want to restore hope to the largest possible number of families less fortunate in the community, who are not able to provide appropriate therapies for their child with autism, over many years It has been proved that early intervention for the care with appropriate therapies enhances the engagement of these children, this will contribute significantly to reduce the turmoil the children experience, simply because up until now new therapies were not brought into action.

Dr. Rami Hamid: " There is are theories asserting that show a relationship between high rates of concentration of metals in the human body and physical disabilities like behavior and there is likely a strong link between autism and the toxicity of mercury. The high concentration of metal at high rates in the human body converts minerals of vital components to the toxin inhibitor, so our work in Rami Hamid Medical Center is to bring the latest medical devices such as metal detectors as they have a vital and it is a very important role in helping to focus a great deal with autism. "

He added: "After the detection of the metals a specialist medical team will work on a balanced diet for the child where the parents will have to follow to help their child to reduce the concentration of heavy metals in the body and help them to re-balance of minerals rates in their bodies, thus contributing to improve the chances of their response to treatment".

There will be new Therapies introduced that will assist to connect with children with Autism that will contribute to the way they engage and contribute to their families, in social environments and also in our communities.

The Autism Trust Foundation will begin to receive the applications for the initiative, starting on Sunday, April 16, 2016, for a period of 30 days. And it will work with a specialized committee on social and physical condition of applicants to study the case within sixty working days of submission.

Social Skills

Social Skills

Published January 22, 2014
Author Gulf News

Football legend Maradona pledged to launch a sports championship for autistic children in Dubai yesterday.

"Sports are part of people's day-to-day life and children with autism should not be deprived of this right," said ambassador for the Dubai Sport Council Diego Maradona during a press conference.

The former Argentinean World Cup winner called on governments all over the world to provide autistic children with all the facilities needed to help them live a healthy, social and active life.

"I also plan on launching a sports championship just for autistic children. In fact, I promise that I will take the needed steps to do so and I will start on working on it in the near future."

Maradona made the announcement during the conference that aimed to raise awareness about children with autism.

"This is not my usual area of expertise but as a father I did not hesitate to attend this conference. Those children need a lot of help not only from people in the special needs field. People in all fields should raise awareness about the issue."

The conference was organised by the Autism Trust Foundation (ATF), which announced that it will reveal a 1,000 square metre billboard featuring 700 paintings by autistic children from around the world on Shaikh Zayed Road in April.

The billboard, which includes paintings by youngsters from 20 countries, aims to raise awareness about autistic children by showing the public their capabilities through artwork, said Fahd Bin Al Shaikh, Deputy Chairman of ATF.

Al Shaikh also revealed that 20 winners (one from each country) will then be invited along with their parents on an all-expense paid trip to Dubai a week before the award ceremony. Their paintings will also be showcased at Mirdif City Centre.

"We want to raise awareness among the public, especially among the parents of children who have autism, to show them that their children are capable and should be encouraged instead of being shunned by society."

Colonel Dr Jasim K. Mirza, Director of the General Department of Community Services at Dubai Police, said that a big contributor to the lack of statistics in the UAE about children with autism is parents not coming out with the truth about their children.

"In Dubai Police we have statistics about how many addicts we have in the country and the number of deaths. But where are the statistics about children with autism in the country? More awareness is needed on this issue."

Dr Mirza hoped that the project will raise the awareness needed about children with autism.

Psychological Services

Psychological Services

Published December 08, 2013
Author Gulf News

A billboard featuring 700 paintings by autistic children from around the world is to take pride of place on Shaikh Zayed Road.

The 92 square metre billboard will be covered with 700 scanned paintings created by youngsters from 20 countries.

The project, which was launched by the Autism Trust Foundation (ATF) under the patronage of Lieutenant General Shaikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, aims to raise awareness about autistic children by showing the public their capabilities through artwork.

"A jury will choose one winner from each country by January. The 20 winners will then be invited along with their parents on an all-expense paid trip to Dubai a week prior to the awards ceremony, which will take place on April 2, 2014," said Deputy Chairman of ATF, Fahed Bin Al Shaikh. "We plan on holding this competition every two years," he added.

According to Al Shaikh, the billboard will be revealed a week prior to the awards ceremony. He also said that the children's original artwork will be exhibited at malls across the UAE.

"Along with raising awareness about the children's capabilities we hope to open doors for the centres participating to communicate with one another. This will be vital in sharing knowledge and research among each other," Al Shaikh said.

The ATF is a non-profit organisation founded by Emirati, Al Shaikh, in 2010 with the aim of launching initiatives and programmes through its network of offices in the UK, the UAE, the USA, Canada, Venezuela, Ecuador, Argentina and Palestine.

Our Values

Our Values

Published December 08, 2013
Author Gulf News

A special needs integrated school, which will reserve 30 per cent of its seats for autistic children, will open it doors in Dubai, the Autism Trust Foundation (ATF) - the organisation launching the new school - told Gulf News.

"We are currently working on the design plan of a part school-part centre that will allow for the integration of autistic students in regular schooling. Thirty per cent of the seats will be reserved for autistic children, providing them the best environment to experience effective teaching in a regular school layout," said Fahed Bin Al Shaikh, deputy chairman of ATF.

According to Al Shaikh the lowest fee to enrol an autistic child in a special needs centre in the UAE is Dh200 per hour, while the cheapest therapist charges Dh500 per hour. "A child needs a minimum of 20 hours of therapy a month. These costs can burden the parents and deprive the child of the right [to receive] therapy."

He hopes that the new school will provide the best services with the lowest costs possible, which he said he believes is rarely the case in UAE centres.

"These centres hire regular teachers who don't have training in special needs education; there should be a unified regulatory board that makes sure that these teachers have qualified degrees. Another part of this problem comes from the fact that we also don't have university majors and centres that provide majors and training in special need education."

Al Shaikh said that he hopes that the school-centre will meet the gap of services in the UAE special needs education sector. The construction of the centre will begin after ATF receives architecture plan approvals.

ATF currently has three centres around the world, including a temporary centre in Dubai that caters to 22 students, providing them with one-on-one services.

"We have over 60 students on the waiting list so we opened a temporary centre to cater to some of the students until the school-centre is completed. This shows the need for such services in the UAE."

More information about the school-centre will be disclosed after the initial construction phases begin.

ATF is a non-profit organisation with a network of offices in the UK, UAE, USA, Canada, Venezuela, Ecuador, Argentina and Palestine. It was founded by Al Shaikh on November 2010 with the goal of developing autism centres around the world.

ATF hopes to raise awareness among society, especially in the region, about the capabilities of autistic children by launching international programmes and initiatives.

"There is a lot of work to do in this region in terms of awareness. Most parents here do not want to admit that their children are autistic and even try to hide him and keep them at home. We hope to help raise awareness through future programmes that we plan on launching," Al Shaikh said.

Occupational Therapy

Occupational Therapy

Published February 07, 2013
Author Dubib

ABILITIESme, the first regional platform celebrating the potential and opportunities of the special needs communities, today announced their partnership with The Autism Trust Foundation (ATF).

The partnership is looking forward to the launch of a pre-event summit to support the provision of education and awareness on special needs and disabilities among UAE citizens and residents including those employed in government entities and corporations, as well as families throughout the Gulf region.

The summit will take place on the 9th of June and will comprise a set of conferences and ministerial meetings exclusive to key tenets of authorities in the UAE responsible for implementing disability right partnership laws when it comes to education, healthcare, employment, urban design & infrastructure.

His Excellency Fahed Bin Al Shaikh, Deputy Chairman of Autism Trust Foundation said "We are proud to be part of this heart-warming initiative. Our aim is to promote the awareness of autism and support ABILITIESme objective in creating a sustainable disability sector in the MENA region".

During the summit, the Autism Trust Foundation will host a session on addressing the challenges of raising a child with autism, underlining the importance of dispensing care for autistic children when and where it matters; classroom, home and workforce.

"In a society where raising kids with special needs portends unique challenges and requires requisite skills, ABILITIESme will represent succour for parents - a place for professional help and information resource centre on therapy, medication and hospitalisation for affected children. Parents of learning-challenged kids need to be persistent both in working with their reluctant learners and with the schools that must provide the help these children need" added Bin Al Shaikh.

On signing the partnership agreement between ABILITIESme and the Autism Trust Foundation, Geoff Dickinson, CEO of dmg::events said "The collaboration will increase awareness on what truly matters, among the Gulf region and will encourage society to contribute in supporting charities and humanitarian work. We are more than excited to be working with the Autism Trust Foundation, as we expand on our on-going CSR activities that align with UAE Government societal vision".

A multi-faceted event, ABILITIESme will showcase the latest innovations in the field of healthcare, education and assistive technologies, and will also include a series of activities and seminars focusing on professional development, policy implementation and rehabilitation therapies that will involve many stakeholders from the public sector, private corporations and the public.

ABA Services

ABA Services

Published April 03, 2012

A centre that will diagnose autism and rehabilitate hundreds of Emirati children and adults who have the disorder is due to open next year, authorities announced yesterday on World Autism Day.

The Emirates International Autism Centre aims to provide early intervention, speech and behavioural therapy, and vocational training at subsidised rates for Emirati sufferers in Dubai, including 272 who are on the waiting lists of autism centres.

"Autism is stealing our children away from us. It is a big issue," said Fahed bin Al Shaikh, the deputy chairman of the Autism Trust Foundation.

"There are some UAE nationals who have been on the waiting list for 15 years. That is unacceptable. There are many parents who don't know what autism is. They think it is a mental sickness. We have to reach out to them."

The Autism Trust Foundation will run the centre in collaboration with Dubai's Community Development Authority (CDA).

Another centre will open towards the end of next year to serve the Northern Emirates, Mr Al Shaikh said, adding the Dubai centre might later open its doors to expatriates, but the initial priority will be citizens.

There are no accurate statistics on the total number of people with autism in the emirate, but experts estimate it would be more than 300 nationals.

"It is a child's right to receive early intervention and this centre will give them care in their natural environment," said Dr Bushra Al Mulla, the director of Dubai Early Childhood Development Centre.

"We will integrate some in schools and the severe cases we will help at the centre."

The Autism Trust Foundation, a non-profit group registered in the UK, and the CDA have conducted intensive studies on care in Dubai. Two workshops were held in February for 175 families of children with autism.

"That is when we realised that these families suffer from double pain," said Shaikha Al Mutawa, the chief executive of the Autism Trust.

"The parents have no clue how to deal with the children and there is a shortage of centres they can go to for professional guidance.
"These are smart children with talent but they need the right kind of care. This new centre will cover the gap."

Caring for people with autism can be expensive because of the need for clinical psychologists, and behavioural, occupational and speech therapists. Annual costs can range between Dh30,000 and Dh360,000 a person.

One of every 110 children worldwide is affected by autism, a neurobiological disorder that appears within the first three years of a child's life. Autism affects social and communication skills, and lasts throughout a person's life.

The CDA described the initiative as necessary government support to the non-profit sector.

"This represents our commitment to improve the lifestyle of Emiratis affected by autism, through the establishment of a well-equipped centre offering services at reasonable fees," said Dr Omar Al Muthanna, the chief executive for the CDA's social regulatory and licensing sector.

The announcement was one of several events marking World Autism Day.

The Burj Al Arab was bathed in blue light yesterday, along with some of the world's best-known landmarks, as part of the global "Light It Up Blue" initiative.

Other famous structures that lit up in honour of the event included New Yorks Empire State Building and the Sydney Opera House.

Children from schools including the Gems Wellington Primary School dressed in blue and walked around the school grounds to bring awareness of the need for acceptance of sufferers.

"It's very important for governments to get involved because the numbers are increasing," said Carolina Tovar, the co-founder of Child Early Intervention Medical Centre, who took part in the Gems Wellington school walk with her young son, who has autism.

"We need to focus on the quality of care, diagnosis and help families handle this complicated disorder."

The Dubai Autism Centre also launched a month-long campaign with the slogan "accept, embrace and empower", to help integrate children into the community.

A walkathon will take place on April 21 in Zabeel Park as part of a global autism initiative, with activities organised by health agencies.

Feeding Therapy

Feeding Therapy

Published April 02, 2012

The diagnosis and treatment of autism, a developmental disorder in children, has received a big boost in Dubai with the decision to create of a comprehensive centre for autism rehabilitation through a collaboration between the Community Development Authority and Autism Trust Foundation (ATF), a UK-registered body with boards of directors in the UAE and Canada.

The initiative reflects ATF and CDA efforts to establish a unique centre which can accommodate all the cases in Dubai including the 272 cases that are still on the waiting list at other autism centres.

The centre will also house facilities which will include the latest technical equipment run by internationally qualified therapists to help individuals with autism disorders acquire necessary developmental skills and access to education so that they can reach their fullest potential and become well-functioning members in the community. It will be equipped with the capability to cover all the Emirati children affected by autism besides meeting the requirements of future cases in Dubai.

Khaled Al Kamda, Director General, Community Development Authority (CDA), said: "The establishment of a comprehensive centre of autism rehabilitation is a path breaking achievement considering that needs for autism rehabilitation is growing in Dubai as well as UAE."

Currently, children who are diagnosed with autism find themselves on a long waiting list to receive a free rehabilitation service. The other option left before families with such children is to choose costly private services. Apart from the limited number of service providers, at present some of the services are limited to certain age groups. For instance the DECDC serves 0 to 6 year olds only.

According to figures available, it is estimated that currently there are 272 children awaiting rehabilitation therapy in Dubai. It is also estimated that rehabilitation of each person with autism will cost between 30,000 and 360 hundred thousand per year.

"The initiative is one of the main priorities for our foundation aiming at encountering the challenges faced by autism children in the world and UAE, we will focus on diagnosing all the cases in the waiting list giving the priority to UAE National Families who children are yet to enrol in specialised centers" said Fahad Bin Al Shaikh Deputy Chairman of Autism Trust Foundation.

"The new centre provides a variety of specialised services to deal with autism, including initial and specific diagnoses, behavioural rehabilitation, treatment of speech problems, training for sufferers above 18 years old, in addition to provide training for the families of autism children by experts as well as helping in qualifying local expertise".

Dr. Omar Al Muthanna, CEO - Social Care Sector in CDA, said: "The collaborative effort of the DECDC and ATF to set up a dedicated centre for autism rehabilitation is very important especially that the ATF is licensed by CDA which ensure the efficiency of the service providers and operations".

"CDA through its mission and strategic aims looks forward to supporting the third sector such as non-government and non-profit organizations, associations and clubs providing services to the local community, and enhancing its role by providing it with expertise, information and statistics, besides providing a convenient environment to start operations following world best practices and the employment of qualified people who can offer superior social care services" Dr. Al Muthanna added.

"Autism Trust Foundation launches many initiatives that aim at helping the families of autistic children such as "Emirates International Autism Centre" representing a well equipped destination to serve autistic children and giving advantage for UAE citizens who wish to contribute to such humanitarian activities and benefit from specialized training" said Ms. Sheikha Al Mutawa, Deputy CEO of Autism Trust Foundation

A memorandum of understanding was signed between CDA and ATF on Sunday April 2 during the announcement of the collaboration to set up the new centre.

Speech & Language Therapy

Speech & Language Therapy

Published June 07, 2011

Autism Trust Foundation, an UK-registered body with boards of directors in the UAE and Canada, has signed an agreement with top Swiss bank, Liechtensteinische Landesbank (LLB), for designing the charity linked investment structure.

The socially-relevant initiative will allow 50 per cent of the net returns on investments of the investor being donated to the Dubai Autism Centre (DAC), the first organization selected by the Autism Trust Foundation to benefit from its investments programme in the UAE.

This is the first and only charity-linked investment product of its kind in the world, said the officials after signing the deal at the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) in the presence of officials of Autism Trust Foundation board, DIFC and Dubai Autism Centre (DAC).

As per the scheme, the investor has to open an account with the LLB and deposit the amount the respective person intends to keep in the account. This investment will be utilized by the Swiss bank to invest into the risk-adjusted strategy with guaranteed income generated by a portfolio of Gulf Cooperation Council bonds, with the net income will be split 50:50 between the investor and DAC.

The investor is free to donate the entire net income on the investments to the DAC.

There is a minimum amount to be invested of $500,000 under the scheme and the investor can withdraw the investments at any time, subject to normal market conditions.

Fahed Bin Al Shaikh, deputy chairman and CEO, Autism Trust Foundation, said: "We are confident that this initiative will generate overwhelming response from our investors as it ensures the safety of their investments and also contributes to a great social cause."

"This will help in ensuring uninterrupted funds to the DAC in order to ensure the sustainability of the largest organization for autistic children in the Middle East. We are confident that individuals and corporate organizations will extend their support to this social responsibility project," he added.

Nico Tschui, LLB chief representative in Abu Dhabi, said: "We are very pleased to be involved with such an initiative which has tremendous social relevance and will help raising funds to DAC which is extending a wide-range of services to autistic children and their families."

"We have been operating in the UAE - Abu Dhabi and Dubai- and strongly believe that this initiative provides an ideal opportunity to network with the community and contribute towards its development," he added.

The DAC, formed in November 2001 following an official decree by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, is presently located on Al Diyafah Street, off Satwa. It houses 48 autistic children with more than 219 children on the waiting list.

Our Promise

Our Promise

Published June 02, 2011

DUBAI The globally established Autism Trust Foundation aims to support the autism centres in the UAE to improve the facilities for people with the life-long incurable developmental disability.

An estimated 40 million people suffer from Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) worldwide, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). It affects one in 150 children globally, an increase from one in 10,000 about 20 years ago.

A major aim of the foundation is to ensure that autism centres here have advanced facilities and expansion programmes. Members of the board of directors from the UAE are all Emirati nationals with experience in handling humanitarian and charitable projects.

"What sets us apart from other organisations is our priority for facilitating funds to autism centres for making them sustainable in the long run. We are going to take up unique initiatives that are going to help autism centres in the UAE and other parts of the world in a phased manner," said Ali Albwardy, chairman of the Autism Trust Foundation Board of Director. The organisation plans to run local help groups across the UAE to provide the much-needed opportunity to family members of autistic children to meet at regular intervals to discuss the treatment regimes and get expert advice and support.

Shaikha Al Mutawa, Deputy CEO of the Autism Trust Foundation, stressed the importance of changing perceptions about autism "through campaigns, facilitating financial support through funds generation programmes and support services". Another aim of it is to provide technologically advanced equipment to suffered people.

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