The Emirates International Autism Center
A new centre to diagnose and rehabilitate hundreds of Emirati children and adults with autism will open next year, helping to make up for a critical shortage of facilities, officials announced
today on World Autism Day.
The Emirates International Autism Center aims to provide early intervention, speech and behaviour therapy, as well as vocational training at subsidised rates for all Emiratis with autism in Dubai. These include 272 Emiratis in Dubai who are currently 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 that will run the centre in collaboration with the Dubai Community Development Authority.
"There are some UAE nationals on the waiting list for 15 years. That is unacceptable," he said. "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."
Another centre will open toward the end of next year to serve the northern emirates, he said.
The autism centre's opening was one of several events that marked World Autism Day.
The Burj Al Arab was bathed in blue light today along with some of the world's well-known landmarks as part of the global Light It Up Blue initiative.
Children from schools including the Gems Wellington Primary School also dressed in blue, and joined in walks around the school premises to increase awareness and acceptance of people who have the condition.