The Dubai Autism Centre visited the AUD campus last Wednesday to promote “social inclusion and integration of individuals with autism” as part of World Autism Awareness month.
Sara Ahmed Baker, the guest speaker and an official at the Dubai Autism Centre, spoke to AUD students and staff about what autism is, its signs, and the challenges people with autism may face. Baker emphasized the importance of community support for families.
“All they need is support,” said Baker. In recent years, there has been a lot more awareness and support from the community in the U.A.E., she said.
“More people are accepting because we see more autism cases coming in early,” she said. “Parents are looking into options and they want prevention and diagnoses. They’re not shy anymore although, a few of them don’t like the label of being autistic to avoid the stigma the children may face,” Baker told the MBRSC Post.
Raj Kapoor, the Assistant Dean of Business Administration, told the MBRSC Post that a big change is happening in society in terms of spreading awareness.
“What we have done progressively is fantastic,” he said. “I don’t think we had heard the word ‘autism’ anywhere 19 years ago, but now, it’s everywhere. Now, the KHDA (Knowledge and Human Development Authority) also mandates certain accommodations in schools, and all this is initiated by the government.”
Still, some believe that more needs to be done. “There is a lot of awareness, but we still don’t know much,” Yousef Abou Saleh, a business management student, told the MBRSC Post. “The people who are creating awareness campaign may need to do more.”
Autism is a complex neurological development disorder that occurs in all racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups. The number of people with autism doubles every four years, with 1 in 37 boys, and 1 in 151 girls being diagnosed with it, according to the Dubai Autism Centre.
The Dubai Autism Centre’s awareness campaign was launched this month under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Crown Prince of Dubai.