- Center To Help Autistic Saudis Aged Between 3 And 8 Years
His Royal Highness Prince Saud Bin Naif, the Governor of Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province, inaugurated the new, state-of-the-art Shamah Autism Centre in Dammam’s An Nur District on April 6 2016 – the first multi-discipline autism center for Saudi children in the Eastern Province.
The Center is a partnership between Shumua Alamal for Special Education and Rehabilitation and one of London’s leading autism providers, Eagle House Group, with the support of Ebdaah, the regional special needs training consultancy.
The new centre is educating young Saudis with autism aged between 3 and 8 years and focuses on high quality services and interventions delivered to international standards. The center can accommodate around 100 children.
“This center responds to international research which recommends early, evidence-based intervention as crucial in maximizing child development,” said Andrew Westerman, Director of Education and Training for Ebdaah, adding, “The center will be staffed by a qualified Saudi staff overseen by international expertise in special education, speech and language, occupational and physical therapy, behavioural support, and psychology.”
“Building upon international best practices, the curriculum will be tailored to each child’s needs to help them grow and develop, as well as to meet the challenges identified. The center will also focus on empowering families and helping them learn more about autism so that they can play a full role in improving and developing their children’s abilities in collaboration with the specialists. This approach recognizes that every child has potential and is educable. A key focus will be preparing children for education in mainstream local schools where appropriate, and the center will work to build relationships with local schools to achieve this goal,” commented Ian Thorsteinsson, Director of Business Development for Ebdaah.
HRH Prince Saud toured the center in the company of Shaikh Al Majdouei, Chairman of the Shumua Alamal Center Board and Mr. Al Dubaikhi Chairman of the Shamah Center Board. The Prince also met the center’s first intake and the teaching staff.
The partnership between Shumua Alamal and Eagle House Group brings international experience and evidence-based, best practices in the development of children with autism, and will enable the transfer of expertise to the cadre of Saudi professionals training in the Kingdom.
Paul Conrathe, founder and director of the Eagle Group House, said: 'Our goal is to provide the highest quality services and be an example of best practices that will lead the way in Saudi Arabia.”
“These children should be able to use their abilities and talents,” he said. “We know perfectly well the feeling of parents of children with autism. Working together with Shumua Alamal, Ebdaah, parents, and children, this center will make a lasting difference in the lives of the children and their families.”