Courses offered by clinic for disruptive children excluded from school
DUBAI // Psychologists are helping disruptive children who have been kicked out of school return to mainstream education through courses.
Failure to address mental health problems at a young age can often lead to serious health issues and an inability to develop important social skills later in life.
The Camali Clinic in Dubai Healthcare City is providing free courses for children and young people who have been excluded from school.
Some may have been pulled out of schools if teachers cannot cope their special needs, such as ADHD or autism; others for classroom violence or disturbances that affect the learning of others.
“Adolescence is a challenging time generally,” said Dr David Lee, a British psychologist at the clinic.
“Many young people struggle dealing with such a range of changes going on in their lives, particularly in the UAE.”
Those changes are social, psychological and biological, at a time when adolescents are trying to establish a place in their own peer group and develop their own identity.
The clinic has developed an autism and early intervention service, School Readiness Programme and Bounceback – a course for older children excluded from school.
A psycho-educational assessment of children explores and identifies areas of strength and weaknesses to determine what treatment is required.
The readiness programme encourages children aged between 3 and 7 to develop a routine and improve social skills if they have had problems entering mainstream education.
Children learn how to sit still, follow instructions and develop language and social interaction, and parents are regularly involved.
The programme runs four hours a day for three days a week, and can last up to nine months depending on the child’s progress.
Bounceback is a similar project for older kids, aged 12 to 17, with emotional, psychological and behavioural problems. Children are assessed every two months to monitor progress, with parents given the results.
Youngsters are referred by schools and paediatricians when problems arise.
There are a range of professionals including counsellors, psychologists, psychiatrists and speech therapists such as Suha Al Shuaibat, who helps to develop language in children who struggle to communicate.
“Speech is our main method of communication, so if a child does not have language skills it can be socially isolating,” Ms Al Shuaibat said.
“Children can get frustrated and that’s when their behaviour gets worse.
“There is a strong link between communication and behaviour.
“We do not want to keep the children in the programme for a long time. Our aim is to get them back into school as quickly as possible.”
Dr Lee would like to see mandatory training for all teachers so they can identify early indicators of mental health problems, and know how to direct children towards suitable support.
“We want teachers to enable treatment at an early stage but we want them to monitor children to spot a pattern of behaviour, rather than refer a child just because she is having a bad day at school,” he said.
Dr Haneen Jarrar is a counsellor working on the course with younger children.
“We give the children therapy to get them back into the mainstream setting,” Dr Jarrar said.
“We have one case where a child was hitting others children and not listening to action commands.
“It was disruptive to the classroom so we had to work on his conduct.”
She looked at reasons for the child’s behaviour, in this case seeking attention or trying to communicate.
“Some children may bang their head against or wall or bounce up and down because they lack attention from their family or peers,” Dr Jarrar said.
“We always try to understand why the children is behaving that way, and how we can help.”
Published: April 30, 2017 04:00 AM