As part of an initiative to establish a national centre for autism in Oman, the first International Autism Conference will be organised by the Language Centre Social Committee, in association with the College of Medicine & Health Sciences at Sultan Qaboos University (SQU) on March 21.
This conference will provide professionals, and parents of autistic children with a clearer understanding of the diagnostic criteria for autism and essential strategies for education, behaviour management and communication.
Speaking at a press conference, Anfal Al Wahaibi, Executive Chairperson of the Conference, said that the aim of the conference is to emphasise the significance of this disorder and to gather more ideas for the plan of establishing an autism centre.
"In Oman, autistic children are not enrolled in the regular schools. They are taken care of by the Ministry of Social Development during the early childhood instead," she said. "Autistic people have the rights to obtain their free education like any other disabled children receiving benefits from the government," she said.
Al Wahaibi hoped that this conference would be successful in generating ideas for strategies for treatment and rehabilitation that would maximize the use of resources in Oman.
The conference is structured to educate parents and professionals on how to deal with autism. The theme of the conference is "Accepting Difference" which calls for the society to give up indifference towards autistic children.
"People with autism are expected to cope with the challenges for a world which can often seem bewildering and irrational. This can cause high levels of anxiety and stress, resulting in behaviours that can be difficult for other people to deal with, and creating challenges for parents and professions. Whether it is about prevention, early intervention or inclusion, it is important to understand the policies and services for the autistic children and their families cannot be undertaken in isolation. Our aim is to improve the lives and futures of children and adults affected by autism by raising public awareness and convincing the decision makers," she said.
The organisers said that people with autism, their parents and families, educational professionals from mainstream schools, special schools and local authorities, clinicians, speech therapists, occupational therapists, social workers and support workers could attend this conference.