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Making a Difference

Article - December 20, 2011
A small building in the Rawda area of Kuwait brings hope to parents of children with Autism. Here, 100 children receive special care and assistance to develop their potential, and to help them to come understand the world in which we live

Kuwait Centre for Autism was established ten years ago, but the events which led to its founding began a decade earlier. The founder, Dr. Samira Al-Saad, had accompanied her husband on a posting to USA from Kuwait. She brought her daughter Fatma with her, as she was autistic. During her time in the USA Fatima was fortunate in gaining a place a leading school for children with Autism, the highly regarded Higashi School in Boston, which was run by Japanese professionals. Dr. Samira is a lady with boundless energy, and enthusiasm who had decided to use her time in the USA to undertake further study.

Dr. Samira did not hesitate and threw herself into this new challenge. By 1995, building in Rawda had been converted into premises for a special school, Kuwait Centre for Autistic Children. Starting with 10 trainee teachers and 5 pupils, the school now has of 50 and 100 pupils. Work with autistic children demands a special type of person with a true vocation, patience, understanding and stamina. Dr. Samira set about training her new recruits and changing their perception and understanding of children with special needs. She sought out staff with commitment who could cope with the work involved. She also continued to train teachers for the school in Saudi Arabia.

Today the centre is more than just a school. A bi-monthly newsletter style magazine in Arabic details stories about pupils, conferences, workshops and links with autism organisations internationally. Named “Silent Scream“ the magazine is a voice for those whose cries cannot be heard or understood. For parents there are articles written by experts on how they can help their autistic children or how they can help their other children to cope with having a sibling with these difficulties. It also gives details about programmes and visits by international experts who come to Kuwait to run workshops for parents and teachers.

Dr. Samira is the founder of the Gulf Autism Union established in 2002 which brings GCC autism professionals and institutions together. Autism awareness is growing and to assist in the process Dr. Samira regularly gives lectures at the Education College, so as to give trainee teachers an insight.

The school is now full but also operates a diagnostic service with special experts brought into Kuwait on a regular basis. Families come from all over the Gulf region and in some cases other countries to have their children evaluated and to seek advice. A new phase has begun with the construction of a purpose built school with much greater capacity and facilities mischief. Due for completion in 2 years, the new school will be a first for the Gulf region. Vastly bigger than the current premises, the school will be able to expand its numbers and to provide state of the art equipment for the students as well as a large swimming pool. It will also have office space for a research team. Currently the centre is working with Harvard University in the USA on a research project and has been sending DNA samples in this connection.

Presented by the World Autism Organization & Kuwait Centre for Autism

With the prior experience of holding 2 International Conferences on Autism and Attention Deficit Disorders & 1 International symposium in Kuwait and with strong support of the Ministry of Kuwait, many companies and generous locals, Kuwait Centre for Autism will be hosting the International Autism Congress 2014 in Kuwait.


Susan Moreno
16/05/2013  |  15:07
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I was hoping to be invited to present at this event, as Dr. Al-Saad and I have been associates for many years now.