Empower determined children with skills and knowledge

Dr. Arif Khan, Consultant Pediatric Neurologist, Founder and CEO, Neuropedia

How is Neuropedia making its mark in the treatment of neurological disorders in the UAE?

Dr Arif Khan

Neuropedia is the nation’s first highly specialized pediatric neuroscience center, providing cutting-edge expert care for brain, nerve and muscle disorders. It provides world-class expertise in neurological, psychological, behavioral and rehabilitation sciences for children.

The center believes in a multidisciplinary approach and works together to meet the unique needs of each child and their family. We take a comprehensive approach to health issues. From initial diagnosis and treatment to rehabilitation and long-term follow-up care, everything is available under one roof. This unique approach helps us create a standard of patient care that many clinics strive to achieve.

We have been operational in Dubai for over four years and due to excessive demand we have now opened a branch in Sharjah.

“Awareness is an ongoing process in childhood neurology due to its ever-changing landscape”

Dr. Aman PS Sohal, Consultant Pediatric Neurologist, Founding Partner and Clinical Director, Neuropedia

Dr Aman PS Sohal

To what extent has the UAE Neurological Fellowship been able to raise awareness of pediatric neurological disorders and their management and treatment options?

In recent times, there has been a substantial increase in awareness of neurological, psychological and behavioral disorders in children among the general public. One of the key factors in raising awareness is the synergistic approach between professionals from different fields. Early recognition of neurological problems in children is the cornerstone of the management of these disorders. Neuropedia also plays an important role in imparting education and organizes an annual pediatric neurology conference – Neuropedicon, which brings together health practitioners from all walks of pediatrics and allied health professionals from the UAE and from abroad on a single platform. There are also frequent social media campaigns run by Neuropedia to reach parents.

These neurological fraternity efforts are paying off and we could see a trend where many parents are able to recognize the warning signs of autism spectrum disorders and bring their children in for assessments and early intervention.

However, there is still a long way to go as sensitization is an ongoing process in childhood neurology due to its constantly changing landscape.

“Our mission is to provide holistic support to families and children”

Meera Ramani, Founder and Program Director, Behavioral Enrichment

Meera Ramani

How has the help available for determined children changed or improved in recent years?

In Dubai, the KHDA has done a wonderful job of ensuring the inclusion of determined students in schools. Educational institutions have also started collaborating with centers to provide therapy on school premises, which helps the child to progress in all environments.

Additionally, the professional licensing process under the CDA and DHA has ensured families have access to licensed and well-qualified professionals who are the best in their field. Another significant development is that an increasing number of insurance companies have begun to provide coverage so children can access these much-needed therapy services.

We are very lucky to live in the United Arab Emirates where the government wholeheartedly supports inclusion and ensures it is practiced in all spheres of life.

How does behavioral enrichment make a difference in the lives of determined children?

At BE, our mission is to provide holistic support to determined families and children through therapy, education and training.

We treat each child as unique and each child’s plan is personalized to their needs. We also use bespoke software to assess the child, plan treatment goals, and make treatment decisions accurately and efficiently.

Finally, our training programs for parents, teachers and professionals help them understand and implement strategies to work with and bring out the best in our children.

“Advancements in technology have increased the accessibility of learning support services”

Ikram Buralle, Case Manager, Doris Duan-Young Autism Center

Ikram Burallé

How has the treatment available to determined children changed or improved in recent years? What are the different learning support services available for autism that may not have existed before?

There has been an increased availability of evidence-based treatment options, such as Applied Behavior Analysis, in Dubai. Families are aware of the importance of evidence-based treatment options and the role they play in improving the lives of determined children. Advances in technology, such as augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices, have increased the accessibility of learning support services.

The growth of technology has enabled children with different abilities to integrate into schools and into society at large.

How is the Doris Duan-Young Autism Center (DDY) making a difference in the lives of determined children?

At the Doris Duan-Young Autism Center, determined children receive evidence-based treatments, such as applied behavior analysis, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy. Families can participate in their child’s treatment by attending parent education sessions at the center.

DDY organizes social outings in the community for determined children to give them the opportunity to develop social skills and access different activities and experiences.

Staff receive regular training to improve their skills and keep abreast of ongoing research. At DDY, we believe in providing a holistic treatment approach by incorporating all aspects of a child’s life into their treatment plan.

“Hire certified and licensed professionals”

Martina O’Donnell, Behavioral Specialist and Case Manager, Milestones Autism Rehabilitation Centerer

Martina O’Donnell

What are the key things parents should keep in mind before choosing a center for determined children?

Parents should feel comfortable approaching a center and asking about their services. They should be encouraged to ask any questions they might have in mind, and they should always be included in the implementation of therapy whenever possible. A therapeutic, distraction-free environment that is supportive of the child’s learning is another important factor to consider when choosing the right center.

Most importantly, it is essential to hire only certified and licensed professionals. Parents should ensure that their Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapist is under the direct supervision of a board-certified behavior analyst and professionals are licensed to practice.

Technology is transforming the education of children with special needs in the United Arab Emirates – what are the main trends shaping the education of special children?

Key technological advancements are taking shape in the areas of communication, functional and academic skills. Research shows that this area of ​​technological advancement holds great promise. There are several apps designed to help people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) live as independently as possible.

For example, there are apps that help people with special needs recognize and express their emotions; and construct sentences using pictures, which are said aloud by the program and the child is encouraged to practice saying them aloud.

The use of virtual and augmented reality in special education is also growing. Augmentative and Alternative Communications (AAC) are environments that promote constant learning and represent areas that have incredible potential to improve the lives of people with special needs.

Donald E. Patel