Sheikh Hamdan hails Dubai's inclusive spirit after autism centre visit

Crown Prince of Dubai met young people at Dubai Autism Centre

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Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai, said the emirate was focused on delivering the “highest quality of services” to people with disabilities after meeting children with autism.

Sheikh Hamdan made his comments following a visit to the Dubai Autism Centre.

The non-profit facility was established in 2001 to provide support to children with the disability.

“Dubai places the greatest priority on integrating people of determination into the fabric of society and providing them the highest quality of services,” Sheikh Hamdan wrote on Twitter while sharing pictures of his visit.

In April 2021, the UAE Cabinet approved the National Policy for People with Autism.

It set out ways to provide people with autism with easy access to services, to ensure their inclusion in education and wider society, and to train more qualified professionals while bolstering community awareness.

The policy comprises 14 initiatives across five pillars of diagnosis, health care, human resources, inclusive education, and community awareness and empowerment.

One in 160 children globally are believed to be on the autism spectrum, the World Health Organisation says.

The condition is characterised by difficulty in communication and restrictive or repetitive behaviour.

Experts say symptoms can include repetitive speech or phrases; lack of imitation of other people’s actions and emotions; atypical, repetitive and restricted play; engaging in repetitive movement such as hand flapping or finger flicking and oversensitivity to sound.

Last April, which is Autism Awareness Month, Dubai Autism Centre launched a major campaign to encourage inclusivity.

The phrase, “Accept me the way I am — I am a child with autism” appeared on thousands of digital signs and billboards across the emirate.

Dubai landmarks lit up in blue in support of the campaign and UAE companies also took part in the awareness initiative.

Mohammed Al Emadi, director general and board member of Dubai Autism Centre, said he valued the support offered by businesses for the campaign, which aimed to improve “awareness about the needs of individuals with autism and their families”.

Mr Al Emadi said the UAE Cabinet's decision to adopt the National Policy for People with Autism “embodies the commitment of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, to support people with autism”.

He said the government’s efforts “laid the foundations for an inclusive society that empowers and ensures a good life for all people of determination”.

Updated: March 16, 2022, 5:22 PM