Landmarks across the world - including Ain Dubai, seen here - are illuminated in blue to honour World Autism Awareness Day (April 2) Image Credit: WAM

Dubai: Coinciding with World Autism Awareness Day (April 2), a month-long campaign in Dubai aims to educate the community about the health condition and strengthen bonds between parents and their children.

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Under the patronage of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of The Executive Council, the Dubai Autism Center has launched its 18th Autism awareness campaign under the slogan ‘Trusting Parents, Empowered Kids’.

On World Autism Awareness Day, landmarks across the world are illuminated in blue to honour the day. As part of the 18th annual autism awareness campaign, a number of landmarks in Dubai will light up in blue, including the Burj Khalifa, Burj Al Arab, Dubai Frame, Mohammed Bin Rashid Library, Global Village, and Ain Dubai.

About Autism
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurological and developmental disorder that begins early in childhood and lasts throughout a person’s life. ASD can cause significant social, communication, and behavioural challenges. According to recent studies, one in 36 children is affected by ASD.

Hisham Abdullah Al Qassim, Chairman of Dubai Autism Center, said: “As part of worldwide efforts to advance autism awareness, the UAE joins the global community in celebrating World Autism Awareness Day. Our commitment is reflected in our notable achievements in empowering people of determination, and helping them become integral and valued members of our society. These accomplishments reflect the priority our wise leadership places on the inclusion of people of determination, the protection of their rights, and the recognition of their vital role in realising sustainable development objectives.”

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Regarding the campaign’s aims, Mohammed Al Emadi, Director-General of the Dubai Autism Center, said: “In alignment with the Dubai Social Agenda 33 launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, under the theme of ‘Family: The Foundation of Our Nation’, this year’s campaign emphasises the importance of building stronger bonds between parents and their children on the autism spectrum.”

Al Emadi also stated that the campaign features a variety of events and activities to promote awareness, most notably Ramadan awareness nights, workshops for mainstream teachers, and educational sessions for public and private sector organisations to create more autism-friendly environments and build a more inclusive and welcoming community for everyone.

Free screenings

In a push for early intervention, Al Emadi also said the campaign will include free early autism screenings and comprehensive assessments of people with autism and developmental disorders.

Al Emadi explained that the campaign will utilise mass media, cinemas, and a network of over 2,000 digital screens in public spaces across the UAE, including ENOC gas stations, Union Coops, Géant and Aswaaq supermarkets, and shopping centres.

Ramadan event

As part of the campaign, the Dubai Autism Center, in cooperation with the Community Development Authority in Dubai, is organising a Ramadan evening on April 4 that features panel discussions. Topics that will be addressed include the importance of family support and ways to strengthen the relationship of parents with their children with autism, and enhance belief and pride in their abilities. The event, to be held at the Al Khawaneej Majlis in the presence of families of people with autism, government officials and representatives of POD centres, will include competitions, raffles, and prizes.

Under the umbrella of the campaign, the Center will also organise a number of awareness and training workshops to educate private school employees in Dubai on the basic approach to dealing with students with autism, in accordance with relevant legislation, procedures and systems.

Therapy clinics

The Dubai Autism Center was established in 2001 by a decree of the Ruler of Dubai as an Emirati non-profit organisation in the UAE that aims to provide integrated consulting, educational, and specialised therapeutic services in the field of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Located in the Al Garhoud area, the facility includes 40 classrooms, 22 motor therapy clinics, 18 speech therapy clinics, three sensory-therapy rooms, and a range of laboratories and medical clinics designed according to the latest international standards to provide a suitable educational environment for children with autism.