There could be about 3,000 to 5,000 young people below the age of 18 with autism in Qatar, going by current global estimates, an expert has said.
Qatar National Autism Working Group chair Dr Mohamed Waqar Azeem was addressing a symposium hosted by Qatar Foundation’s Pre-University Education (PUE) to provide an overview of the prevalence, diagnosis and treatment of autism among children in Qatar and worldwide, at Awsaj Academy in Education City.
The Autism Symposium 2016, sponsored by the World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH) and Sidra Medical and Research Centre, brought together more than 400 guests, including international autism specialists from the WISH Autism Forum, local education service providers, parents of children with autism and other key stakeholders who have been instrumental in the development of Qatar’s National Autism Plan.
Abeer al-Khalifa, director, Academic Affairs, PUE, described the event as a ‘wonderful opportunity to bring the autistic services community and the autism parents network in Qatar together to talk with each other and to listen to outcomes of international studies, which we, in turn, can apply to our own services at Renad Academy.’
Dr Azeem told the conference that autism assessment input is not just received in the clinical setting, but also more generally through family input, which he described as “hugely important”.
“I’ve always believed that families play a critical role in children’s lives, especially when it comes to children with autism. It’s of paramount importance to help them develop skills and strategies that will be useful to make their everyday lives easier. Children with autism often need more of a tailor-made approach to be successful in day-to-day functioning,” added Dr Azeem.
The half-day symposium also heard from two international WISH Autism Forum 2016 delegates; Dr Norbert Skokauskas, secretary general of the World Psychiatric Association, Child and Adolescent Department and Dr Kerim Munir, director of psychiatry at the University Centre of Excellence in Developmental Disabilities at Boston Children’s Hospital.
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