Monday, April 26, 2010

Autism in Saudi Arabia

This is a post I have been planning to do for some time, so I thought I would do it before April, Autism Awareness Month, closes out. The reasons for wanting to do this post are multiple. As a professional I have been trained in autism while doing a child psychiatry rotation, examined on it generally, and have treated the mother of an autistic child (moderate to severely affected), at the same time as I was treating a mother who seemed to wish that her daughter were an Asperger's type of autistic child, despite the reassurances of multiple specialized pediatricians.

Simultaneous to treating these 2 (in back to back sessions sometimes), my friends' youngest daughter then aged 2 was diagnosed as autistic (mild to moderate severity), after they had her assessed for delayed speech. I have lived with and supported both parents through all the phases of shock, disbelief, denial, acceptance, hope, disappointment, frustration with the resources available or not, including her recent introduction to a normal Grade 1 class, which was both challenging and heartbreaking. A family member who is a specialist in early primary education has been helpful to all of us in the Autism vs ADD features of Autism vs the spectrum of normal 6 year old, Grade 1 behaviour.

Over the course of the time I have been commenting on Saudi blogs, the topic of autism has come up a number of times in a number of places. Sometimes it is interjected into a discussion of Down's Syndrome (Trisomy 21) or other types of disabilities. Often the discussion turns to a lack of resources in Saudi, a lack of understanding and a lack of compassion for the disabled. I appreciate that all this may well be true, but I do believe based on experience and research that there are some resources and progress being made in these areas in Saudi (and other MENA countries) which is what I would like to focus on here. So I will briefly review what autism is, then discuss autism in Saudi Arabia, and include some elements from the April campaign internationally to increase awareness of and support for autism. Some of the photos are from the April 2, Light it up blue: Shine a light on autism campaign, and the Flickr photo set created from it.

Kingdom Holding Tower, Riyadh

Autism is a neurologically induced pervasive developmental delay in a child's growth and acquisition of milestones, most noticeably in speech acquisition and social relatedness. However, other functions and developmental milestones are compromised, and there are characteristic movement disorders (repetitive hand flapping, twirling, self harm) and play patterns (isolated, repetitious, unimaginative, using toys as objects eg to line up rather than as instruments of play), and rigidity about routines, including object placement, with a general resistance to change and new skill acquisition or environments. Disturbance in rituals, or exposure to phobias can result in "meltdowns" and tantrums that are uncharacteristic of a normal child of the same age. The psychiatric DSM IV TR criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorder are here. Asperger's Syndrome, a specific type of Autism characterized by high verbal functioning and high IQ but very poor interrelatedness and social skills, is defined there as well. More detailed descriptions and information on both are available on the National Institute of Mental Health website, here.

Note that Autism is on a spectrum, and a given child may have higher or lower functioning in one or many areas. The expansion of the diagnosis of Autism to that of a broader spectrum of pervasive developmental delays  is the single biggest reason for the seemingly great increase in numbers of children being diagnosed with Autism. Increased training of family physicians, pediatricians and child psychiatrists has improved detection and diagnostic capacity for Autism.

Sadly, it seems that some parents and teachers are overzealous in their "diagnosis" of a child as having Asperger's. As with my patient, one gets the sense that the desire for children with a high IQ overrides the challenges and the undesirability of having a disorder that goes along with it.

CN Tower, Toronto, Canada

There are a number of controversies about the causes of autism and its treatment. One is the role of vaccination as a causative factor in autism. This stems unfortunately from a scientific study done in England which like many such studies came to tentative rather than definitive conclusions and which were subsequently disproved. In the mean time, the media, and certain advocates like Jenny McCarthy have held strongly to this belief, despite subsequent research evidence to the contrary, with the result that especially in England parents are withholding vaccinations, so the incidence of autism has not fallen but the incidences of measles, mumps, and rubella have risen in alarming numbers.

Another theory of causation is a genetic abnormality, or predisposition, which seems to be the case for a very small (epidemiologically speaking) minority, even though as yet the exact gene, genes, or genetic combinations have not been discovered, only explored. There is an increased risk of a second autistic child where there is already one in the family, and an increased risk for boys over girls. For most cases of autism, it simply still isn't known what causes the disorder. Thankfully, theories and research are now focused on neurological abnormalities rather than the older mother-blaming psychoanalytic theories.

Nicosia Town Hall, Nicosia, Cypress

Applied Behavioural Analysis, a very intensive form of early intervention behavioural therapy with autistic children is currently the treatment of choice for the autistic behaviours, and is combined with speech therapy for linguistic and social development. Diagnosis is often made age 2-3 when it is clear there is a speech and social delay, and intervention at this time for 15-20 hours per week has proven effective in maximizing abilities and improving functioning--not in curing the disorder, though. Usually the final prognosis is based on verbal capacity that the child has achieved at the age of 6. 6 is also the age at which insurance programs, including government ones, cut off funding for treatment, since the gains after that age are thought to be less significant.

Clinical management also includes treatment for concomitant problems, like attention deficit disorder, or any other psychiatric or neurological disorder. I know of one child who had both cerebral palsy and autism, and yet, due to funding issues, was denied a teacher's aid in the classroom--until the teacher and principal spent 4 months documenting and lobbying for one. The poor child was humiliating himself (by disrobing to go to the washroom then being unable to re-dress himself), was frustrated, yet was blessed with a good disposition, and a wonderful mother living close by, and who made herself readily available (teachers are not legally allowed to touch the child in the ways necessary to re-dress him).

Many children with autism seem to suffer gastric disorders which leads some to wonder about a causative connection, or at least the benefits of dietary changes. Again, diet can help with gastric symptoms, and to a certain extent with toileting issues.

Niagara Falls, lit blue by the Niagara Falls Parks Commission

As much as parents in the West complain about a lack of resources, cost, challenges with schooling, stigma, and a general lack of answers, cures, and solutions, those in non-Western countries do seem to face more challenges with resources generally, and, as with other mental disorders, greater stigma. On the other hand, family members are often more protected, less likely to be institutionalized, and larger families with closer extended family ties can provide a broader support system. As I learned with a Moroccan niece who suffered a never diagnosed neuro-degenerative disorder that left her blind, deaf, unable to adequately feed, and with no mobility, health care professionals, family, friends and neighbours in any culture can be wonderfully supportive and resourceful. It depends to some extent on the family, and on the location. Certainly, as anywhere, major centres are more likely to have both the expertise and the numbers of cases to warrant the creation of clinical and educational services.

A year ago, on World Autism Day 2009, Arab News published an article, Autistic society sounds SOS for special children, which describes well the challenges for autistic children and their parents in Saudi. These include a lack of autistic centres in major cities like Makkah and Madinah, few places available in the centres which do exist, in Jeddah and Riyadh, lack of government sponsored centres, and insufficient stipends for autistic children. Care and schooling are expensive, and often must be sought in other GCC countries or further abroad, or through private individual care, all at considerable expense to the parents.

Yet, in November of 2009, Ghadah Baaqui (MA, psychology, specialized in Autism) won the People’s Choice Award, part of the Youth Business International’s Entrepreneur of the Year competition, under the patronage of the Prince of Wales for the "Ghadah Madinah Autism Center" which she established in Madinah with the help of the Governor's wife, and the Saudi-based Centennial Fund inaugurated by King Abdullah in 2005.

As mentioned above, there is a Saudi Autistic Society in Jeddah, and supports through the Family Protection Society and King Abdulaziz University (KAU). The Jeddah Institute for Speech and Hearing does applied behavioral analysis (ABA). Also in Jeddah, at Effat College, educators from Oxford have helped to create programs on autism for psychology majors on the professional aspects,  and for mothers on parenting skills for autistic children: Effat College Aims to Enhance Autism Programs. In Riyadh, King Khaled University Hospital of King Saud University (KSU) opened the first combined research and treatment centre in the Middle East, in late March 2010.

In Saudi Arabia, the Saudi Autistic Society is a main resource for those speaking Arabic, but seems to have little to offer non-Arabic speakers. This raises issues of access to care in any setting where one doesn't master the dominant language, and particularly access to teaching and support programs rather than strict medical care. This is a recurrent problem not only with expats but with new immigrants or foreign students who don't yet master the dominant language in any country. It can be a particular problem for those in a country on a relatively short contract, or for an unknown time period. Still, the site notably has information on ABA, and resources for parents like how to toilet training autistic children (a major issue for many); and, for professionals, a Journal of Autism Spectrum Disorders.

As described in this report from Applied Behavioral Analysis International, a major effort was made in October of 2003 to introduce ABA into the Middle East and particularly the GCC. The Psychiatric Division of the Dhahran Health Centre in Saudi Aramco was a major stop for training the personnel in autism and in ABA, although efforts there had already begun in 2002. Other main centres for training personnel were Doha, Qatar, and Manama, Bahrain. That training was in addition to the main focus, the Middle East Applied Behaviour Analysis Conference, held in Bahrain. It "was attended by approximately 100 doctors, teachers, professionals, and parents from Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the Sudan, and the United Arab Emirates".

While it is extremely important that local research and treatment facilities, as well as school programs, be developed in Saudi and in neighbouring GCC countries, the advantages of the internet include resources like those linked already, the one above on blogs on Autism, and those like the Autism Society of America.

I hope this brief introduction sheds some light on the challenges of autism which affects 6 in 1000 Saudi births, and some hope about research, treatment, education, and the supports available locally, nearby, and on the internet.

What experiences, if any have you had with autism?
What type of services are you aware of in your area?
What is your impression of the level of stigmatism against autistic children where you are, where you have travelled or lived?
What do you think are the greatest misconceptions about autism?
Were you aware before now that April is Autism Awareness month?
Was any building near you lit up blue during this month?
Any other comments, thoughts, experiences?


single4now said...

Good topic and a very important one as well. I dislike the fear parents have when it comes to vaccinating their children and autism. Could you include the link to a study or it's abstract on disproving the link between vaccinations and autism?

One correction though, Down's Syndrome is Trisomy 21.

Chiara said...

Single4now--thank you for the correction. You won't believe how many times I read that and couldn't figure out what was wrong with it, just that it looked wrong. I also did want to include more of the science and links, so thank you for asking, and I will do that tomorrow.

Thanks for your great comment.

I will have other similar posts upcoming.

single4now said...

Actually your post was quite detailed, mashaAllah, so I don't blame you. You can always include it in a separate post because it would definitely be an interesting read. Also, it's more important for parents to prevent childhood diseases in their children, some of which can even be life threatening infections.

And we definitely need more special programs and schools that work with autistic parents and children because it requires so much patience and understanding. Thanks for posting this topic. :)

Ameen said...

Dear Chiara,

very interesting blog and very touching post

my neice is an autist, and i know how difficult for parents and how ambiguous autism is

my brother and his wife did great job in treating their daughter. internet helped them so much to learn about it.

my brother almost had second duty after regular working hours searching for causes and treatments of autism, in addition of connecting to people from all around the world.

few things i learned from him.
first, autism is a global growing trend, especially in last 3 decades, as well as in saudi

one of key factors could be vaccinations, my brother believes in this so much, and there were big court case against medicine companies in the US

the key reason is the mercury that is used with vaccination that helps to increase shelf life. if the child got real immunity issue, the body might fail to flush out the mercury, which accumelate in the brain. so, the child develops very normally, and suddenly at 2 years old (plus or minus) start behaving differently

so, when i had my first child, i requested from doctor vaccination without mercury (it has scientific name)

also, pregnants are advised not to eat too much Tuna and some other types of fish, as it gets mercury easily,

also, to avoid the fillings in teeth, during pregnancy. the ones that has mercury

anyhow, most vaccinations now don't have mercury after the big lawsuits against them

there are some services around, but most of treatment my brother did was overseas, USA, UK, Turkey and other places

he tried everything known for autism, and still trying

results are great. my neice is still autist, but everyone can see the difference. she calculate some numbers, express some feelings, play around normally and go to school with shadow teacher

other than that, they did kelation therapy, oxygen therapy, swimming is good

i think among all of that, behavior therapy, with shadow teacher was very very good
also, they are trying now stem cells therapy in other countries, which is said to be the next revolution in medicine

no, and if i didn't know about this case, i would not. my brother and sister in law first heard about it from the doctor when it was first diagnosed.

i think what's most important, is the psychological preparations of parents.

it is very tough feelings and long journey, that needs too much patience persistence and understanding.

they do what's commong saying here "we do our homework, and the rest is on God". so as my brother told me once, they realized they need to enjoy life after a while and have fun, to be able to be so persistence

so i liked ur post a lot in saying that you were training the mother

i think that autists get so violent and dangerous.
they are so sweeeet. i dont know if they didnt get any treatment, may be they can be violent.

i think what's more important, is the life experience out of it. to act responsible, to enjoy the most out with this child, to accept life as is, and makes the best out of it

Randy - Filipino said...

Hi to all, I am a father of 6 years old boy (autistic), diagnosed when he is 2 years old and we brought him immediately in the Phil. to cater his needs in SPED School.

We are planning to bring him back again here in K.S.A. but we need to know if there is a AUSTISM/SPED School here in Jeddah, K.S.A. which is English medium? Thank you very and hoping someone can help us in providing infos that we are looking at.

Chiara said...

Randy-Filipino--Welcome to my blog! I hope others will answer, with exact recommendations.

I would suggest that, if you haven't already, you contact the links in the blog especially for Jeddah and Madinah, and those below, and see if they can help you.

Green Hills International School, Jeddah
Green-Hills-99 AT yahoo DOT com

Our international staff is qualified to teach and guide students in every aspect, in addition to specialized teachers in learning difficulties as we have a section in school for Special Needs.

We believe that every child can learn."

The British International School (Continental School), Jeddah
conti AT

seems like a possibility as well, though requires placement testing and has long wait lists:

"Whilst the The British International School (The Continental School) Jeddah is of mixed-ability intake, new applicants must produce their most recent school reports, and undergo admission interviews to establish the appropriate placements, to identify any EFL or SEN problems, and to gauge the degree to which the school could accommodate them."

More generally:

The contact for Saudi Autism:
Samira Al Saad Omar
Office of Vice President of Islamic Development Bank
P.O. Box 9525

Jeddah Autism Centre
Al-Falsalya Woman Welfare Society
PO Box 1001
Post Code 21433

I hope this helps and that others also respond. I will be doing a further post on Autism and KSA but hopefully your son will be happily enrolled very soon!

Please comment on older and newer posts of interest to you!

Chiara said...

Ameen--Welcome to my blog. My apologies for not welcoming you earlier. Your comment here which I read as soon as it showed up for moderation was very moving.

I am glad that your niece is doing better, and that your family is so loving and accepting of her, while searching for the best resources. The internet is particularly helpful with such things as it provides information from reliable sites to people everywhere and gives them ideas about how and where to get help.

Nercury poisoning in itself is a neuron toxin, and so although there is no scientific proof of a causal relationship with autism many parents feel much safer spacing vaccines, and that I am aware of there are no longer mercury containing vaccines. Mercury thermometres are also largely replaced with digital ones, and control of mercury levels in food products is much tighter than it was. There was a scandal in Canada because of mercury poisoning of a lake that provided the fish diet for native Canadians who then suffered extremely high levels of mercury and the consequences. Since then, and since the issues about tuna, I believe that world wide control is better.

In the last few decades the diagnostic criteria for autism have been broadened significantly. So today a child who would have been unidentified before is more likely to find themselves with a diagnosis on the Autism spectrum. Physicians are sensitized to diagnose early and refer for specialist evaluation to confirm or refute the diagnosis and then treat with early intervention therapy.

Many autistic children have gastro-intestinal problems as well so diet is very important. It is also important because of their toilet training issues, and risks of constipation, and overflow diarrhea, etc. Also, in general, everyone does better with a healthy diet, tailored to their needs, good rest, exercise, socialization, and appropriate stimulation.

Your comment here, following on Single4now's, prompted me to do a follow-up post on autism.

I look forward to your comments there and on other posts of interest to you. Welcome again to my blog, and my apologies once more for the delay in replying. :)

Anonymous said...

Hello everyone,

My son is 10 years old and was diagnosed with ASD at the age of 3. I knew when he has 1 1/2 that he was special. I cannot say enough that education is the key. My son has been on an ABA therapy since he was 4 and the progress he has made are amazing. He was one could say at the lower end of the spectrum (not high functioning) Now he speaks, read, can write, counts and is very good with computers. He has very good social skills. He have alays treated him as a "normal" child and did not tolerate tamtrums and these alaways has consequences (such as his favorite toys taken away) One more thing, a lot of parents spend a lot of time and money to look for a "cure" or a "cause" God has given us a blessing and is testing us....please concentrate on your children and even though some need answers....there isn't any. My son is autisic and my daughter is not. I have had similar diets, pregancies and deliveries so I just dont know....,but what i know is my son is happy and loves life. God bless you all

yolla said...

First I would like to congratulate you for this interesting and useful blog.I have been teaching children with Autism over the past 4 years.I am a behavioral analyist..this means that I use ABA therapy in teaching children with Autism and other cases.I love my work and was happy to be part of these childrens' life.It's unlike what people think,autistic children are very sweet and they teach you a lot!!I'll be moving to Jeddah by september to work there...would like to know if there are families interested in contacting me for ABA one on one sessions or for shadowing their children.I'll be more than glad to hear from you:)
contact me

Shake said...

Thanks for the post Chiara. Very informative!!!

I am contemplating a move to Riyadh and am interested in finding good English-based ABA, Speech and OT services for my 6 year old son. Could you help direct me on this? I would also be interested in schooling for him.

Thanks again for the blog and may Allah bless you for the work you are doing!

Chiara said...

Shake--thank you very much for your comment. My apologies for applying so late. I have been hoping to reply with a full post on resources in Saudi but that is still upcoming (along with the vaccination does NOT cause autism update).

The King Saud University Autism Research and Treatment Center (ARTC) at King Khalid University Hospital is the best resource in Riyadh that I could find.

It is a newly created (2010) centre for diagnosis, research, and treatment of autism. The methods used are current to research and treatment of autism elsewhere. The most important and best proven therapy for most autistic children is the behavioural therapy, Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA). It is listed there in the education and behaviour treatment section.

As this is a university hospital based centre the staff are highly qualified and current in their knowledge, based on my critical review of their website.

I hope you find that helpful should you decide to relocate to Riyadh! said...

great post and nice to see all the improvement.
I Live in the west, and I am a Muslim. I have a 7 1/2 years old son who is diagnosed with autism. I met several other Muslim parents who have autistic kids. Unfortunately there are still people out there who are ashamed that their children are autistic. It breaks my heart when I hear that some kids never ever been in the playground, b/c their parents are too embarrassed to take them due to their condition. Alhamdulillah after I started advocating for these kids, I started to see more improvement in their life. I believe if we all work together and make awareness, we can improve the life of the autistic children and their families in every country. said...

I just wanted to share this nasheed with you all, I am sure you all know about it, but whenever i feel kind of overwhelmed I listen to it and with prayer i do get hope

Anonymous said...

I and a few people are actually relocating to Riyadh InshAllah to start a school for children suffering from Autism. We will be looking to get everything rolling by this Winter. Currently we are looking for a good location for the school and a surrounding residential area for the 21-25 staff that will be accompanying us.

Anonymous said...

If there are any families in the Riyadh area looking to have one on one sessions and in addition have their child attend the school please just contact me via e-mail at

Shake said...

Thanks for the feedback Chiara. My family just came back from a visit to Riyadh.

The place you suggested is apparently only operating as a research center. Prince Sultan Humanitarian City has a Child Development Center which does speech and OT (no ABA). Saudi International School - multinational section, has some services but quite expensive.

Anonymous said...


I live in Riyadh andI have a 4.5 year old son with special needs.He does not speak and lack many social skills a boy of his age would normally have. I am new in Riyadh and don't speak any Arabic. I am looking for a school to send him which would cater to his needs. The only one I have been able to find is the Multinational School which is extremely expensive and after talking to them I wasn't sure of their expertise either. Does anyone know a school in Riyadh of such kind. Any help greatly appreciated.



hope said...

Dear chiara, your blog is so informative and i felt like im not alone in this world as there are parents who have the same situation like mine. I have 3 years old daughter that is autistic ,she had been diagnosed when she was 2 1/2 years old. At this period i feel like im lost and helpless..Pls help me by giving more informations how to help my daughter..

Chiara said...

Hope-Thank you for your kind words. The initial phase of diagnosis is so challenging, and then the scramble to find resources is a new challenge. If you let us know where you are located, then myself and other readers can help you with resources in your area, in addition to the information in the blog post. I wish the best for your child, you and your family. Thank you for your comment and question.

Anonymous said...

As salamu alaikum!
My neighbour is looking for a school/institute/centre that her 11 year old Autistic son could attend. He went to a regular Kindergarten class for 4 years and is currently at home.
Would anyone happen to know of any such services in Al Khobar? Or even Dammam, Dhahran etc.? Any information would be highly appreciated, inshaAllah.
Jazakumullah khair!
She has already tried at the Special Child Care Centre at the International Indian School, Dammam but couldn't get her son registered due to nationality issues.

Chiara said...

Anonymous #1 and #2--thank you for your comments and questions. I am planning to include a number of these requests in a post to make sure all see them and share ideas about resources. I will do that in the next weeks as opposed to waiting until April's Autism month. Thanks to both of you for sharing here, and I hope there will be some replies directly on this post. My apologies for any delays.

help me said...

dear chiara...i have 4 years old autistic daughter...since she was in her younger age ,i could say that she 's a special child as she was showing signs of autism but as a mom i was in denial...she was 2 yrs old when she was officially diagnosed,it was so painful and at this point of time im still in the stage of acceptance ..i love my daughter dearly that most of the time im spending more attention than my other and my husband went to look for schools and most of them were extremely expensive ...chiara we wanna help our dear daughter will u please recommend me a good english school for my child,we are leaving here in looking forward for your response..

Chiara said...

help me-Thanks for commenting, and my apologies for replying late. Other than the recommendations in the post and the comments, I have no immediate other suggestions. As you are in Jeddah, you have somewhat more resources than in smaller centres. I would suggest you contact the teaching program at Dar El Hakma University to see what suggestions they may have.

I am still planning a number of posts and mentioned in my previous comments above, and hope to have them up during April which is Autism Awareness month. Keep an eye out.

Again, thank you for commenting, my apologies for the tardy reply, and my best wishes for you, your daughter, and family.

Anonymous said...

hello chiara, i am also facing the above 9 year old son has learning disability and speech delay.though he is best in many aspects..he has cochlear implant also which helped to improve i am looking for a special school in khober...please do guide.thanks for kind care..

Umm Ammar said...

Salam Chiara,

I too am looking for a school for my son who is 12 this year. He has autism and he is non verbal. He went to Multinational school for the last 4 years until last year. The company where my husband works has cut down the benefits, and we no longer afford to pay his fees in Multinational School. If you know of any english medium schools in Riyadh that caters for the kids with special needs, I would be really grateful. Thank you.

Chiara said...

Anonymous--Thank you for your comment, and my apologies for replying so late. I had hoped to published the planned posts on Autism around the time I received your comment, and so thought to reply at that time. Unfortunately I had a minor though vexing illness that stopped me from doing much except sleep for a month.

I would like to elicit more information from people who are living in or have lived in Saudi and who could help with more specific recommendations, as well as doing more research online, and I will reply to you shortly.

Umm Ammar-thank you for your comment. As above, I would like to get more specific information to best reply to your question. I hope to reply shortly.

Thank you both again for your comments and questions.

Anonymous said...

My kid aged 5 having autistic features. can you please advice is there any school in Khobar.Dammam area?

Jazakhalla Khairan

Chiara said...

Anonymous parent of a 5-year-old--Thank you for your comment, which must have been going up as I gave my previous one, since I saw it after. I will look into further information and include it in an upcoming post. Thank you again for your comment, and your patience.

Anonymous said...

I am an Occupational Therapist, from India but currently based in Riyadh. I specialize in working with children with attention deficit and hyperactivity, sensory processing disorders, autism, learning disability, downs syndrome, and a host of other mental and social disorders. I have a good knowledge about sensory integration therapy and behavior modification techniques. Private one to one sessions , up to three times in a week available for cases in Riyadh.

kashif akhtar said...

Can you please provide me the address of Autism societies in Jeddah.

Kashif Akhtar

Anonymous said...

Hi Chiara,
A well written article.
I am a mother of 17 year old boy with a mixed diagnosis of autism spectrum + low IQ.
living in dammam since last 12 years we only managed a school who helped him a bit to pass his time during the day and basic academics like counting and alphabets,this also was a trumendous effortby the teacher as the school is not a special ed school.
I am a Pakistani national. now my son needs vocational training to learn something for his life.
can you suggest something in khobar , dammam area where he can learn some skills???
they dont have any thing for expats here in kingdom!

Anonymous said...


hi there I have been living in Al Khobar for 19 yrs now and my youngest a bay is autistic. It is very hard here to find any kind of help or support. I am still looking but as for now I teach my son at home and he is improving but sometimes it too much for one person to handle . Once again I am on the look out for schools but still I do not see much improvement. If anyone knows of and english medium school where non saudi kids can study please do let me know . Thanks.

Abeer lababenah said...

Hi , My name is Abeer Lababenah , I am a behavioral therapist from canada , I moved her with my husbend and two kids this year . I was working with kids with Autism for 7 years now .
I was so happy to find your blog , and so happy to see all this comments and also sad to see such a bad experince with Autism treatment in Saudi Arabia .
I am looking to learn more from your blog and to help any body who needs help regarding Autism treatments .
I am welling to give one to one therapy session her in riyadh .
I can put programs and make a treatment plan ..
for any more information you can contact me on my email .. looking to hear from you all
cheers :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Chiara,

I am a British national living in Kuwait. My almost six and a half year old son was diagnosed with ASD when he was four and a half. The minute this happened we pulled him out of his mainstream school (where he wasn't learning anything at all and was hugely disruptive), and placed him in a nursery that caters exclusively for children with ASD. He'll be starting a new school in a couple of weeks (ages 4 to 25) and of course I'm apprehensive, although I have visited the school and was very reassured by talking to therapists, teachers and the School Principal.

Do you know of any reputable schools in Riyadh that cater to children with autism? We may contemplate leaving Kuwait for a career change and we need to know that our little boy will be looked after.

Thanks for your help.


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