New Dh69 million autism centre opens in Al Ain

The facility can accommodate 178 students in 36 study rooms

A new Dh69 million ($18.8m) centre dedicated to the support of young people with autism has officially opened in the Emirates.

The Al Ain Autism Centre spans 10,000 square metres and has capacity for 178 students in 36 study rooms across two floors.

The centre, which is affiliated with the Zayed Higher Organisation for People of Determination (ZHO), was built by Musanada, or Abu Dhabi General Services Company.

Autism is a complex, lifelong developmental disability that typically emerges during childhood and can affect a person's social skills, communication, relationships and self-regulation, according to the Autism Society of America.

Sheikh Khalid bin Zayed, chairman of ZHO, was briefed on the care and rehabilitation services offered during a tour of the building.

During the opening ceremony on Sunday he thanked President Sheikh Khalifa and Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, for their support of his organisation and the people it represents.

Sheikh Khalid also praised the efforts of Musanada in constructing the centre.

Abdullah Abdulalee Al Humaidan, secretary general of ZHO, said the Al Ain Autism Centre was in keeping with the vision of the country's leadership to support those with disabilities and create a more inclusive society.

"The establishment of the new Al Ain Autism Centre as an affiliate of Zayed Higher Organisation for People of Determination is in line with our leadership's commitment to enhancing the provision of social support and healthcare facilities, as well as the development of appropriate facilities for people of determination that incorporate specialists and dedicated resources in a way that help empower them and enable their social inclusion," he said.

The centre also houses 17 treatment rooms, four teaching rooms, two medical examination rooms, a gym, music room, two drama rooms and an art room, as well as a library, cafeteria, swimming pool, indoor and outdoor specialised play areas, staff rooms and several other amenities.

In September 2018, the Al Ain Autism Centre obtained an international certificate from the British Autism Society in recognition of the specialised services it provides.

It currently serves 89 students, including 15 early intervention cases.