The Director of Rehabilitation at Rumailah Hospital Dr Wafa Al Yazeedi.
By Fazeena Saleem
DOHA: Majority of children with special needs in Qatar go to regular schools, while only 20 percent of them are referred to a special centre, says an expert.
There are an estimated 3,000 students with special needs and it is essential for them to study together with other children, said Dr Wafa Al Yazeedi, Director of Rehabilitation, at the Rumailah Hospital.
“There are around 3,000 students with special needs. Majority of them can go to regular schools and study with other students, through an integration programme by the Supreme Council of Education,” she explained.
Since 2009 the Ministry of Social Affairs, Supreme Council of Health, Supreme Council of Family Affairs and Supreme Council of Education work together under a memorandum of understanding to support students with special needs in Qatar.
“The Supreme Council of Health do assessments to create a healthy environment for students with special needs at schools in Qatar,” said Dr Al Yazeedi.
Further, the early intervention programme provided by Hamad Medical Corporation provides services and support to families who may need assistance with extraordinary care for a child with special needs. With the support, families are better able to care for their children at home within their communities, where children grow.
This programme includes services such as child development (for preschool children), therapy for behavioural changes; supplies required equipment and do a home assessment.
It is provided to children with mental disability, a developmental delay, Autism Spectrum Disorder and physical disability (Cerebral Palsy) that results in significant limitations in mobility.
“Each child and family’s circumstances are considered unique while providing services and support,” says Dr Al Yazeedi.
Nature of service provided to eligible families depends on assessed needs of the child and family, and the resources available to deliver the service, she explained.
Also the Special Education Department at the Rumailah Hospital has an Outpatient day care service that provides specialised pre-integration training for children with special needs- who have physical, developmental and associated learning needs.
It provides rehabilitation services through a family-centred approach, to maximise a child’s independence and facilitate integration into schooling and the community.
Special Education Department works closely with three departments within Rumailah Hospital in particular.
The physiotherapy department seeks to develop the child’s physical performance and prerequisite skills for functional posture and movement.
This is achieved through goal focused assessment, interventions, equipment advice and environmental adaptations to enhance children’s performance.
Occupational therapy focuses on processing skills for basic activities of daily living such as eating, dressing, grooming, toileting, bathing, and written communication (handwriting, keyboard skills).
Occupational therapy services include training in school-related skills and strategies to help children compensate for specific deficits.
The speech therapy department addresses speech, language, communication, and swallowing skills in children with disabilities. Speech therapists provide comprehensive diagnostic evaluations, consultations, parent counselling and intervention.