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

For the first time in six years, The Doris Duan-Young (DDY) Autism Center temporarily suspended all its center sessions for almost two months for protection against the increasing number of Covid-19 cases.

This year continues to challenge all of us globally in so many ways. COVID-19 restricted us from our normal routines and made us find new ways to deal with our daily lives. While many things have changed, The Doris Duan-Young Autism Centre remains committed to delivering quality services and securing the safety of both its children and employees.

Following the UAE government announcement of reopening of businesses, DDY Autism Centre is pleased to announce that it has gradually resumed its operations on its 6th floor center (6007-6008) at DHCC Al Razi Building 64 from May 31, with a reduced number of children to monitor Covid-19 activity and guarantee that social distancing is being followed.

The reopening of DDY has been carefully decided by the center’s management through ensuring that all areas and properties in the center such as toys, therapy materials, tables and chairs have passed the up-to-date infection control guidelines mandated by Dubai Healthcare City Authority (DHCA), Dubai Health Authority (DHA) and Ministry of Health and Prevention (MOH). Prior to re-opening, all employees were oriented on safety protocols and procedures and given personal protective equipment (PPE) such as facemask, gloves, shoe covers and hand sanitizer.

“During these challenging times, DDY’s management team has been working diligently to develop and implement new protocols based on the advice from Dubai Healthcare Authority (DHA), Dubai Healthcare City (DHCC) and Ministry of Health (MOH) in order to keep our children and DDY team safe,” said Inas Ktaech, BCBA and Clinical Director, DDY Autism Center.

“I am proud of our DDY team and the measures we have put in place to fight the threat of Covid-19. DDY remains committed to helping our children learn and develop their skills while ensuring that they have a safe and sanitized environment. I am excited for our reopening and our commitment to continue to provide our excellent services with our highly trained registered behaviour therapists and our experienced BCBA members. We will get through this together! Keep well and stay healthy.”

Lauren Miles, BCBA and Clinical Supervisor, DDY Autism Center, added, “As COVID-19 has caused concern all around the world, DDY’s commitment to provide Expertise That Cares never wavered. While center sessions were suspended, DDY continued to provide home therapy and behaviour teleconsultation services to our children. Safety has always been a top priority at DDY and this remains true as we resume center sessions. Our management team and quality control team have worked tirelessly to ensure the center is safe and ready to welcome everyone back. We are so excited to reunite the DDY team, back in our center.”

Safety measures

While many new safety precautions have been put in place that have changed the center’s normal operations, DDY has maintained its connection to both children and employees during these challenging times.

For the employees, DDY found an innovative way to connect with the staff members through WhatsApp group and Zoom training sessions. DDY team has done an excellent job staying connected while maintaining social distancing.

For children, who missed playing with their friends, dancing together in a group, and going on community outings, DDY team found ways to support them. Teaching children with autism how to follow new rules and routines can be a challenge but DDY prepared social stories about COVID-19 and wearing masks and shared virtually with children to help them understand why all these changes are happening. In one of the social stories shared, DDY even added pictures of its therapists holding a card stating how much they miss children at the centre.

Now that DDY has reopened, therapists have found unique ways to teach social skills while maintaining social distancing. For example, therapist have relied on video modelling to teach social skills activities such as dancing and playing.

Lastly, DDY found innovative ways to continue to engage with parents and caregivers through online meetings to discuss children’s progress; tele-consultations to address specific behavior concerns; parent training videos; and videos of their children demonstrating skills taught in the center.

While preparing for a full reopening, DDY is taking extra precautionary measures to be able to provide safe therapy sessions:

• Prior to all therapy sessions, clients and staff complete a health screening questionnaire to ensure no one has come in contact with COVID-19 in the past 14 days or displays any symptoms.

• Upon arrival to the center, children and staff have their temperatures checked and are not admitted if their temperature is 37.4 or higher.

• During the session, all staff members are required to wear face masks and shoe covers while children are encouraged to wear face masks and they are required to wear socks or shoe covers in the therapy room.

• Access to therapy centers is restricted to authorized personnel only. Visitors are required to schedule a phone pre-screening meeting to answer any inquires about the services.

• DDY reception area is now equipped with a hygiene and PPE desk that contains face masks, gloves, sanitizers, and disposable shoe covers.

• Sanitization, disinfection, and fogging of all DDY facilities are carried out every weekend by Dubai Municipality approved disinfection company.

• All therapy rooms have been re-arranged to ensure social distancing and an hour block is scheduled between each child to allow time to disinfect and sanitize all toys and equipment in the therapy room.

• Therapists at DDY Autism actively participate in online trainings to ensure continuous development.

The health and safety of clients and employees has always been and continues to be DDY’s highest priority.

Parents speak

“Happy and supportive of the decision to reopen the center, as well as the precautionary measures which are aligned with the government’s guidelines to combat the spread of coronavirus. I would also like to thank the center for their positive approach on educating the children about basic preventive methods through training in wearing masks and maintaining hand hygiene”.

- Afra Obaid Almansoori, DDY Parent

“The center has been taking all the precautionary measures from the time my child reaches the center to handing him back to us at the end of his session. When we arrive at the center, a health screening is conducted for my child by checking his temperature. Other precautionary measures implemented at the centre were explained to us prior to our confirmation for a center session. I would like to thank DDY for ensuring the safety of our children throughout their time at the center. DDY has always been in touch with us and responding effectively to our concerns.”

- Dhafer Algheshanin, DDY Parent

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