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Dubai Autism Centre declares April as Autism Awareness Month

United Arab Emirates: Saturday, March 24 - 2007 @ 12:45

Together Again, a month-long education and outreach campaign, is being held under the patronage of HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, President of the Executive Council of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Autism Centre. The initiative is aimed at raising awareness and funds.

The campaign set up to educate the community on Autism, will incorporate sale of artworks produced by children with autism, specially-produced branded wristbands and other fundraising initiatives.

Speaking on the campaign, Mohammed Al Emadi, Director General and Board Member for the Dubai Autism Centre, said: “Autism now affects one in every 146 children, and the instances of the disorder are increasing from 10 to 17 percent every year. It is more common than any other childhood cancers and it affects five boys to every girl. With statistics like these, it is easy to see why we must expand the Autism Centre and the services it provides. Early detection of the disorder can ensure the correct levels of therapy, therefore allowing children a better start.”

Autism is a lifelong neurological developmental disorder. However, with proper treatment and education, the affliction can be managed to an extent that will allow the affected individuals to live full lives.

“The centre is thankful for the continued support of HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who has been unwavering is his support. Also, Zabeel Investments and Dubai International Financial Centre have been instrumental in helping us get this campaign up and running, and I am thankful for the kind support of HE Dr. Omar bin Sulaiman and HE Mohammed Ali Al Hashimi for their continuous support,” Al Emadi continued.

A number of organisations have come together in support of Together Again, namely Zabeel Investments, who conceived the campaign, and Dubai International Financial Centre, who are providing the DIFC premises as an impromptu art gallery. A number of other venues have come on board, including Spinneys Trade Centre and Spinneys Town Centre (Meadows). Cinestar Cinemas at Deira City Centre and Mall of the Emirates will also be retailing the branded wristbands, while Motivate Val Morgan will be helping to raise awareness for the campaign through advertising on cinema screens.

The Dubai Autism Centre (DAC) is a non-profit organization, relying on fund raising and donations. It was launched in November 2001 by a decree law from H H Sheikh Maktoum Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, with the aim of providing a better life for Autistic children in the UAE. It began as a resource centre for parents and professionals, providing essential recourses such as books and videos, as well as access to specialists on Autism.

From its humble beginnings, the Dubai Autism Centre has come a long way, now situated in its own cutting-edge facility in Jumeirah. The centre has its own fully equipped classrooms, while a playground and gym guarantee the proper training of motor skills as well as helping children learn how to play with and enjoy the company of their peers. Each class has its own section of the Centre’s garden for planting.

The Centre curently provides educational and therapeutic programmes for the children through a team of dedicated professionals, including Clinical Psychologists, Speech and Language Pathologists and Occupational Therapists. These care givers also work together in assessing the children and providing information, along with diagnosing whether the child has Autism or another affliction with similar symptoms.

In addition it has a fully-equipped Early Intervention Room, which caters for students aged between two and four years of age, where the children work in groups to develop early potential for children with Autism. There is also a Daily Living Skills Therapy Area, which is designed as a home, with a fully equipped kitchen and a combined bedroom/living room, where the students will learn self-help skills and independence.

It also has wonderful Art Therapy facilities, which enable children to express their emotions and thoughts through colorful artworks. As part of the campaign, the children’s work will be on display through the Dubai International Financial Centre throughout the month of April. The works will be up for silent auction, whereby members of the public can bid for the artworks. Once the month is over, the highest amount bid for each piece will be able to take home an original artwork from the children of the Dubai Autism Centre.

Mohammed Emadi continued: “It’s not necessarily about the amount of money you give, but the way in which you help to get the message out there. Our partners have come together in so many ways to help get this programme running, and we are very thankful for their continuous support. Providing the right kind of support to children with Autism or those that suffer from other developmental disorders can help them lead productive lives in the future, and help reach out to their families.”

Wristbands will be sold at Eppco and ENOC petrol stations, the Dubai International Financial Centre, Cinestar Cinemas and through Spinneys at Trade Centre Road and the Town Centre outlet in the Meadows.

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Saturday, March 24- 2007 @ 12:45 UAE local time (GMT+4) Replication or redistribution in whole or in part is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Mediaquest FZ LLC.

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