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WORLD AUTISM AWARENESS DAY – Make UAE a better place for Autism Services

Flag uae(14)Today is 2nd April, World Autism Awareness Day. I have lived  in UAE and worked  in this field for the last 20 years and I take this opportunity to talk about how UAE can be a better place for persons with Autism and their families.

Assessment/ Information/Counseling: It is now possible to “Red Flag” a child around 18 months. UAE should train an appropriate person at all Government clinics/health centres to perform a short assessment at the time of babies’ visits to the clinic. Similar provisions can be made mandatory at private hospitals/clinics too.

Parents in the UAE find it very difficult to figure out which specialized professional to approach when they feel that their child is not achieving his/her milestones. It would be useful to set up a centralized information cell giving all details about what a parent can do and where they can seek help in the matter.

Once parents have some information and need an assessment the same problem arises: first they do not know where to go then they find out there are not many places that conduct a thorough assessment in order to give a diagnostic report. The health authority could provide this information for parents through the Autism Support Cell and facilitate setting up of more diagnostic services in UAE.

The family of a person newly diagnosed with Autism requires a lot of support, counseling and information; these services are virtually absent in UAE.The Autism Support Cell can also provide these.

Intervention:Research validates that Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention has shown very positive results in the prognosis of persons with ASD. In UAE there are still not enough intervention services and out of those that exist, there are very few that provide scientific and evidence based programs. The need for Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) based intervention facilities is urgent in UAE. This may require an investment in training of teachers and therapists.

Adult Facilities: There seems to be a huge lack of any kind of facilities for adults with Autism; although the need for this is also very great in the country. Sheltered Workshops, Vocational Training Centres, Supported Working environments, Recreation Centres and Residential Centres are needed.

Resources: Autism is a condition that consumes a very high amount of human and economic resource; the policymakers need to allot larger sums of monies towards this condition as it has a characteristic of high resource consumption, which is usually beyond the capacity of an individual to bear. Investing in Early Intervention, Professional Training, Home and Family Training will reduce this cost to the state in the long run.

Legislation: Autism should be given a “disability” status in the laws of the country, in order for families affected by Autism to avail their rights.

Awareness and Acceptance: A change in the social and cultural attitudes can ONLY happen with education of the people of the country.

As UAE moves forward in each and every area of development, I dream that soon Autism Services will also be in the forefront on the agenda of the policy makers and leaders of  UAE.


Do you agree that lives of everyone touched by Autism need support and acceptance? Please comment in the “speak your mind” box below..


  1. Kalyani Saha says:

    Acceptance is very important, which is lacking in Abu Dhabi in the larger social context. Support is even more important. If government support is available acceptance will follow too.

  2. Ileana Alzou says:

    Awareness is the biggest tool to fight Autism! We need to make a chain of hands to be that support for all the families in need here in the UAE. I reach my hand out to join other hands like Nipa’s to make a diffrence. Nipa “I thank you in behalf of all those children’s lifes that you have touched due to your commitment to this cause.

  3. sunita carvalho says:

    I think we need to create commited awareness especially in schools so that teachers, principals etc are able to accept, handle and adapt to the needs of such children when brought into the general stream.

    • I agree Ms Sunita, for this reason I am available to give awareness talks to teachers anywhere in UAE. We are also about to announce training programs that will be useful for teachers and shadow teachers who support pupils through this transition into mainstream schools.

  4. Being an autism mom,if there is one thing I could transfer to the world around , it would be this simple truth — that most of the ‘Behaviors’ attached with autism is actually the child’s or the adult’s DIFFICULTY OR INABILITY TO CONNECT OR COMMUNICATE with the outside world in an acceptable way!! Once this perspective is taken up, then starts the awareness,acceptance and inclusion in its true sense ….So let’s start by doing our tiny bit and walk just beside them – neither too ahead nor too behind!!!

  5. Benaifer says:

    We talk about teachers, institutes and governments.. but one very important factor I feel is also educating parents to ACCEPT the fact that their child may be autistic. Generally the initial reaction is ‘he/she is alright, there is nothing wrong with him/her’.. sometimes one of the parents may be accepting but the other not.. so counseling for parents is also important as the child’s first contact are his/her parents. If they themselves will not be able to accept the reality, the child will never be able to meet the challenges ahead..
    Wish you the best Nipa.. people like you make the world a better place!! Please do let me know if I can be of any help at any time..

    • Absolutely agree with you Binafer! That is the first step and I do hope more counseling services for families will be available in UAE
      soon! Thank you for your support!

  6. Yes, agree with you all – Nipa u r doing excellent !!! keep it up and we are with you.

  7. Helen B. O'Connor says:

    Well written infromative article. Thanks Nipa for keeping us informed and working hard to get help and acceptance for people affected by autism.

  8. Namrata Khandelwal says:

    Yes nipa i fully agree with you.
    In past past 22 years i have worked with many children with autism.I truly feel that parents need support and true guidance in addition awareness and acceptance.
    Vocational training is something that needs intensive attention.
    You are doing a great job and would like tojoin hands with you to best of my abilities.

    • Thank you Namrata! We need people like you to guide and support parents out of the therapy and treatment context, more as a friend who understands! Always grateful for your support 🙂

  9. Vicci Tucci says:

    Very well written and informative article! May all of you dreams come true my dear friend and colleagues.

    • Always Thankful to you Ms Vicci for your guidance and support in the implementation of The Competent Learner Model in Abu Dhabi! UAE is a better place for many children with Autism due to the CLM!

  10. Your article was an “eye opener” for me! I come from a country where Autism is well known and recognised by nearly all stakeholders so as to work together in providing support, information and training where needed most. You have just highlighted for me how much there is to do in the UAE and what steps are needed to get there. This type of public awareness is equally important so that the community is also involved in supporting ASD causes. It is a wonderful challenge and I would like to be part of it so if you need any volunteer assistance please let me know.

    Best wishes for your continued success.

    • Thank you Ruby for your comments and for your offer to help with the cause! I will certainly require the help of willing and positive individuals like yourself in this task.

  11. Without Government & society support this problem in not a problem. It is everyones duty to support like this children.

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