Dubai launched a new programme on Sunday, September 18, to motivate more institutions to provide welcoming spaces for people with autism. These include public places like shopping centres, hospitals, airports and parks.
The Dubai Autism Centre (DAC) revealed the launch of its Autism-Friendly Programme (AFP) during its first cycle. It is the first time that such an initiative has been launched in the region and strives to encourage the community to assume higher accessibility standards for people with autism.
The programme will give a set of training workshops as well as advisory services to get a safe and friendly surrounding for individuals with autism. An Autism-Friendly certificate will be valid for one year.
The community outreach manager at the DAC, Eman Abushabab, said, “The organising committee of the programme works on handling different tasks, including training, counselling, and then field audits to check that the expected measures are executed efficiently to gain a safe and friendly environment for people with autism.”
She added that the process of giving the Autism-Friendly Certificate is as per specific criteria for individual areas of the programme.
The last stage of the evaluation process involves interviews as well as field visits to the applicants to confirm the entity’s eligibility for the classification certificate.
The chairman of the DAC, Hisham Abdullah Al Qassim, stated that the initiative would help enhance institutional services and facilities to ensure that individuals with autism access the services they want in different sectors.
The director-general of the DAC, Mohammed Al Emadi, stated that people with autism face several challenges when they are in public places, and most of these challenges are because of their unfamiliarity with the processes or place, in addition to their inability to predict what might happen next.
ASD, known as an Autism spectrum disorder, is a neurological as well as development disorder which starts early in childhood and lasts for a complete lifetime. ASD is known to cause major social communication along with behavioural challenges. As per a recent study, one in every 44 children is affected by this disease.