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The Doris Duan-Young Autism Center (DDY) Image Credit: Supplied

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In an exclusive interview with GN Focus Inas Ktaech, Clinical Director, The Doris Duan-Young Autism Center (DDY) reveals how the organisation maintained staff and patient morale during the pandemic while simultaneously helping the brand evolve

Did the pandemic affect the Centre adversely, how did you help the team pull through?

We managed to help the center and the clinical team pull through the pandemic in so many remarkable ways. In fact, together with the guidance of DDY management, we even managed to implement several different initiatives and innovations that included:

- Behavior Teleconsultations for parents

- Home sessions with safety kits and training on safety

- Online ABA parent trainings and observations

How did you help the brand evolve over the course of last year?

Firstly, we continued to develop innovative ideas and effective ways to provide ABA therapy and be the leader in ABA services in the UAE. These innovative and effective ways included providing Crisis Intervention Training to our staff. Being a certified SMG Crisis Intervention trainer, I managed to successfully train and certify all the therapists in DDY. This SMG Training is a proud achievement of DDY as it shows that the center does not only focus on providing excellence with its services but also ensures that the safety of both staff and children is priority at all times.

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Inas Ktaech, Clinical Director, The Doris Duan-Young Autism Center (DDY) Image Credit: Supplied

Could you shed some light on the Vocational Training programme at DDY?

Many of the young adults in DDY are currently engaging in various Functional Living Skills programs such as Job Readiness Program, which is part of the center’s Vocational Skills Program. This program enhances the young adult’s job skills to participate and pursue meaningful employment in various settings based on their choice of interests and hobbies. Young adults in DDY are taught basic office or clerical tasks (i.e., typing a document, printing, photocopying, laminating, shredding, delivering documents to staff members etc.). The DDY staff welcome its young adults as they are part of the team by providing them with their own work schedule and DDY uniform.

What are some of the unique educational and social skills programmes DDY fronts?

DDY is dedicated to help support our children throughout the different stages of their development. From a young child learning school readiness skills to a young teenager learning how to navigate the complex realities of their adolescence years and lastly to a young adult learning how to develop vocational skills to increase their independence. DDY thinks it is very important to teach our clients socially acceptable behaviors (i.e., public vs private, appropriate vs inappropriate topics based on your privacy circle, health and hygiene routines and personal boundaries) in order to help provide our young teens and adults with the tools needed to succeed as they move through the stages of their development.

Again, individuals with Autism may have difficulties navigating through the social world. In this regard, social skills training is an integral part of our therapy but due to Covid-19 social distancing restrictions we have been forced to think of new and innovative ways to continue teaching social skills. Therefore, DDY will be using a program called Model Me Kids to teach social skills through video modelling. This would require the student to watch videos that were specifically developed for children on the spectrum on how to conduct themselves in certain social situations. The teaching would involve video modelling and role playing with the therapist.