Autism in Dubai
With the introduction of the National Policy to empower People of Determination in the UAE, the government exhibited the desire to generate a positive environment for those with special requirements. Conversely, it highlights the lack of a conducive and productive atmosphere for people of determination. This directs attention towards the prevailing regressive climate, and the need to tackle the negativity that looms with the mere term of “disability”.
In a 2019 article for Al Qabas, Mai Sukkari highlights how Autism Spectrum Disorder is so greatly stigmatized in the social sphere in Dubai- despite efforts to remove the taboo- that families with autistic children struggle with additional stress as they are insensitively made a spectacle of. As if the stares are not enough, some may be conspicuously pointed at and whispered about when others pass by. This may discourage parents from providing children with proper diagnoses.
In this regressive social atmosphere, inclusion centers seem to be akin to a revelation, as they can tackle the stigmatization and assist children of determination with relevant strategies for personal progress in various facets of life.
Importance of Integrating People of Determination
Inclusion is believed to benefit children of determination, and ultimately the entire nation. This is because the future generation is essentially trained to be an active part of and to be successful in academic and other spheres of life.
Research suggests that inclusion helps children of determination, counting both long-term and short-term benefits. The Index for Inclusion CSIE states that educational inclusion centers around generating a secure and collaborative learning environment where each student is valued, so as to feel motivated towards high achieving.
- Short-term Benefits
According to Henninger and Gupta, over three decades of research deduces that children of determination included in general academic settings display positive social and emotional behaviors, as compared to counterparts who are subjected to an exclusive academic environment. This is due to the fact that the interaction with peers provides these children with behavioral models to learn from. Strain et al. suggests that autistic children are more likely to apply these learned skills to new interactions in an inclusive atmosphere, specifically with peer support. Inclusive classrooms provide opportunities to engage children of determination in common, day-to-day activities, and tasks that evoke and challenge academic performance.
- Long-term Benefits
Despite there not being enough studies conducted to outline every long-term advantage an individual of determination might receive in an inclusive environment, there still exist a considerable number to acknowledge and appreciate inclusion. There has been witnessed a notable improvement in the quality and quantity of communicative behaviors, which are predictive of long-term developmental and functional results. They are also more likely to have decreased feelings of stigmatization, a better understanding of socially acceptable behaviors, increased social interactions, and academic gains like high school graduation and higher achievement test scores.
Inclusion Centers in Dubai
According to the National Policy to empower People of Determination, there were 15 rehabilitation centers for people of determination in Dubai, 2 of which were federal establishments and 12 were private. However, there has been a notable increase in mental health awareness since then, and consequently in the number of institutions and organizations dedicated to assisting children of determination. Yet, the question still arises: “Is this enough?”
Do these organizations provide enough resources to aid children with these struggles, and their families? Or do the people not have enough guidance to enjoy the facilities these organizations offer?
The first needs assessment for mental health in Dubai, discussed during the Public Health Forum of Arab Health 2018 and condensed into a singular document, highlights some execution shortcomings that may affect services provided to people of determination. According to senior specialist at the public health and safety department at Dubai Health Authority, Dr Kadhim Alabady, there is a lacking in their ability to provide authority figures with accurate numbers that would shape the provision of services by healthcare professionals at inclusion centers and mental health organizations. Yet, one must acknowledge, this move suggests a notably positive stride towards aiding those with special needs. This specificity of attention shows how Dubai is not one to dismiss mental health, as had been a major social norm in earlier years. With this study focusing primarily on children, the significance of early intervention had some light shed upon it, as the primary concern seemed to be that youngsters are not receiving help as early as healthcare professionals would consider most advantageous. This proves therapies and reinforcement focusing on children all the more important; and also centers that facilitate such services, in consequence. Therefore the establishment and workings of relevant institutions, such as Small Steps Big Dreams in Dubai or the Sharjah Autism Centre in Sharjah, must be given due significance. This, so that further awareness and guidance may be spread among the people, encouraging them to take advantage of the facilities offered by such organizations.
While there are a number of establishments preparing children requiring special education for the mainstream, inclusion strategies are still in the first stage of execution. The government of UAE has admittedly made significant strides in providing a more conducive atmosphere for people of determination. However, the continuation of efforts highlights the existent challenges due to years of social stigma and ignorance of scientific studies by the masses. Here, it is apparent, is where the government’s efforts can be backed by inclusion centers dedicated to children of determination.
Inclusion Centers for Children of Determination
The integration of persons of determination into society is a significant step to unify a people for a large-scale progress to take place. In aiding the individual, the entire nation can benefit. Consequently, helping those requiring special care be active members of the social strata will ultimately improve the workings of said social strata. In this regard, inclusion centers like Small Steps Big Dreams in Dubai, UAE, hold great importance; as they not only provide an advantage for the society at large, but also assist individuals with unique living conditions, such as those with Autism Spectrum Disorder and their families.