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QU’s Inclusion and Special Needs Support Center shed light on their services for World Autism Day | Qatar University

QU’s Inclusion and Special Needs Support Center shed light on their services for World Autism Day


World Autism Awareness Day is celebrated annually on 2 April to raise awareness on people with autistic spectrum disorders around the world. A number of faculty members from Qatar University’s (QU) Inclusion and Special Needs Support Center (ISNSC) shed light on their services in honor of this day.

Haya Al-Kuwari, Exam Coordinator in the ISNSC, said, “Qatar has paid great attention to the care of people with disabilities and has been keen to enact legislation that preserves the rights of this group. The Special Needs section was created in 2007, based on QU administration directions & vision and based on Law No. 2 of 2004 in respect of People with Special Needs, drafted and proposed by Qatar to the UN General Assembly and ratified in 2008. This law emphasizes the importance of integrating the issues of people with disabilities as an integral part of sustainable development and removing obstacles preventing them from fully participating in society, equal to all others.”

It is important to note that HH Sheikha Moza bint Nasser first proposed the idea to celebrate World Autism Awareness Day to the UN in 2007, which was supported by all member states and adopted without a vote in the UN General Assembly.

What are the most important recommendations for integrating people with autism?

Haya Al-Kuwari emphasized that through the ISNSC, in integrating students with autism, and through academic experience, there are a number of recommendations and suggestions that can help students complete their education. Most importantly, providing early intervention support after diagnosis of autism, as well as having clear statistics and a database that assists in planning for this group, guiding the educational planning, and promoting integration of autistic individuals in schools while supporting the individual needs of the students and their family.

In addition, providing social and physical education activities and involving autistic individuals to plan and make decisions for themselves.

What is autism and what do we need to know about autism?

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) refers to a group of complex neurodevelopment disorders, says Hana Khalily, Senior Special Needs Specialist. Scientific studies indicate that there are many factors that can contribute to ASD, including environmental and genetic causes.

Some symptoms of Autism include:
• Difficulty building social relationships
• Repetitive body movements
• High sensitivity to noise
• Limited ability in activities, or full involvement in a specific, narrow activity

Challenges that face people with autism disorders face:

Hana Khalily says the main challenge is the diagnosis process due to the diversity of symptoms. The challenges that autistic people then face center around education, qualification, work, independence, marriage, and longevity care.

What are the methods of treating people with autism?

Riyad Ayyash, Senior Special Needs Specialist, says there is currently no cure for Autism. The center does not treat Autism as a disease but rather, as a difference, and aim at providing the appropriate support to ensure the academic success of its students.

Riyad Ayyash points out the services that the ISNSC provides for people with Autism:

• Provide step–by–step instructions that are clearly written and explained
• Allow students to record lectures
• Be considerate of sensitivities to light and noise
• Extend deadlines for submission of assignments
• Assistance in choosing the appropriate major

Physical and digital accessibility for students with Autism:

Abdulla Al Hajri, Accessibility Specialist in ISNSC, says that in line with Qatar National Vision 2030, Qatar University executed, through the ISNSC and partnerships with various departments in the University, a standard of policies to ensure physical and digital accessibility for its students and created the “Accessibility Project.”

This project aims to remove any obstacles in all physical facilities, and obstacles of digital access (websites, textbooks, and support technology). As part of this project, the center ensures that students with autism are supported according to their individual needs in terms of adapting the educational environment around them to suit their situations.

How to apply Comprehensive Design for Learning in the education system at QU?

Rehab Dorgham, Assistive Technology Specialist, said, “We believe in integrating students into the educational process. The center adopts the principles of comprehensive design of learning into the classroom and provides training workshops for faculty members in QU to apply these principles to support all students by providing flexibility in the way information is presented, how students respond or demonstrate their knowledge and skills, and in the way students are engaged. The center provides assistive technology, which can be helpful for this group and help them in their lives. For example, students with autism are trained to use programs like screen readers and voice dictation.”