Shafallah Center to Mark World Autism Awareness Day

Doha: Shafallah Center for Persons with Disabilities, one of the centers affiliated with the Qatar Foundation for Social Work, is set to mark the World Autism Awareness Day which falls on April 2 and is marked this year under the theme: "Moving from Surviving to Thriving: Autistic Individuals share regional perspectives". The celebration aims to garner an overarching global perspective on autism through uniquely focusing on the voices and experiences of People with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), in addition to underscoring the importance of implementing the sustainable development goals for people with ASD. Commenting on this occasion, CEO of Shafallah Center Mariam Saif Al Suwaidi highlighted that the celebration is a crucial opportunity to spotlight the milestones the State of Qatar has achieved in caring for people with ASD and achieving further successes in including and caring for this critical segment of the society. She heaped a praise on the role performed by Shafallah Center for Persons with Disab ilities in undertaking significant efforts to provide the environment conducive for the targeted people with ASD at the educational, functional, and social levels. Al Suwaidi pointed out that the State of Qatar gives top priority to persons with disabilities, including people with ASD through launching the Qatar's National Autism Plan that primarily aims to improve the livelihood of people with ASD and their family members based on the Qatar National Vision 2030. The CEO of Shafallah Center affirmed that the autism department receives male and female children diagnosed with ASD from the age of 6 until 16. Thereafter, they are transferred to the Vocational Rehabilitation and Training Department at the center to further receive services of vocational rehabilitation to be prepared for recruitment. Shafallah Center for Persons with Disabilities offers a wide diversity of inclusive pedagogical and rehabilitation services for people with ASD, where an individual educational plan is separately set for each affili ate containing educational and skillful objectives of high priority, Al Suwaidi pointed out, highlighting that the aforementioned plan is the official document between teachers, children and families as the center of attention. The autism department provides a combination of educational services in professional classes that receive a limited number of affiliates, about six students per class, distributed to class groups as compatible with each other as possible, she noted underlining that such a program is carried out in collaboration with the affiliates' families as partners in affording this service through multiple communication channels. Al Suwaidi emphasized that Shafallah Center for Persons with Disabilities strives to upgrade the capabilities of affiliates to help them overcome the encountered behavioral and educational challenges through enabling them to internalize the skills in a multi-pronged aspect, such as social and behavioral aspects, academic and functional aspects, linguistic and communicat ion aspects as well as the daily life kinetic skills. She indicated that the skills include movement, health, safety, and game skills offered under reliable world-class programs through utilizing the Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), which is one of the most critical methodologies that has proven its efficiency in training and rehabilitating people with ASD. CEO of the Shafallah Center, Mariam Saif Al Suwaidi said that the Autism Department provides special education and various rehabilitative and skill services to its members based on a set of reliable and evidence-based curricula, which keep pace with the latest developments and commensurate with autistic people's special educational needs and characteristics. She added that the educational services in the Autism Department are offered under the umbrella of the so-called Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) - a reliable scientific methodology based on the principles of the behavioral school. Al Suwaidi highlighted the Center's adoption of VB.MAPP Verbal Behav ior Milestones Assessment and Placement Program, adding that the program has positive impacts on the child's daily life by providing children with priority skills that enable them to overcome the challenges in their surroundings. Most of the Shafallah Center's educational staff have received sufficient training on applying and using this program, she added. Al Suwaidi indicated that the Family Support Department at the Center provides lectures, courses and training workshops for families, in order to provide them with the skills necessary to achieve a better life and higher psychological health, which leads to developing the family's confidence in their abilities and competence and encourages them to continuously strive to improve their skills and update their information about everything related to their children's disabilities. She highlighted many workshops, including a workshop on the role of the family in caring for their children with autism spectrum disorder, the role of the family in developing langua ge skills for people with disabilities and autism spectrum disorder, strategies for developing communication skills for children with disabilities and autism spectrum disorder, and strategies for modifying behavior for people with disabilities. Source: Qatar News Agency