Cover Story

Building lives

May 5 - May 11, 2021
Gulf Weekly Building lives

Gulf Weekly Mai Al Khatib-Camille
By Mai Al Khatib-Camille

A BD1.6 million youth care centre and club providing educational and recreational programmes is set to open this year to help teenagers and young adults diagnosed with autism grow in confidence and reach their full potential once their school years have finished.

The Alia Comprehensive Autism Learning Centre is being constructed by the Bahrain Society for Children with Behavioural and Communication Difficulties (BSCBCD).

“This centre aims to offer educational, recreational and healthcare facilities designed to meet the needs of young adults with special needs,” said Shaikh Rashid bin Mohamed Al Khalifa, the head of public relations department for the BSCBCD and Alia National School. The Alia Early Intervention Centre is run as a charity. There are school fees but these are kept to the ‘absolute minimum’, aimed at making the centre available to all.

“Our mission is to improve the lives of all affected by autism – from the parent of a newly-diagnosed child who doesn’t know where to turn, to the sibling of an adult on the spectrum who now finds himself in the position of primary caregiver – the centre can help,” Shaikh Rashid added.

It will focus on maximising the potential of individuals with autism from preschool through adulthood by providing them with intensive and comprehensive state-of-the-art education and behavioural services based on the scientifically-validated procedures of Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA).

Supporters are currently project fundraising, trying to attract sponsorship and financial assistance from various bodies and organisations. 

The A’ali-based project is aimed to be completed in around eight months. The move came to light after BSCBCD board members looked into the current need in Bahrain based on parental surveys and the large waiting list found for services such as the Alia for Early Intervention Centre.

“Through the intensity of our programme, and by working closely with families through collaboration and training, we shall prepare our learners to be as independent, self-sufficient and socially-adept as possible so they may be active, contributing members in their communities where they live, work and play,” explained Shaikh Rashid.

Each student will have a specifically-tailored programme to meet needs across all areas of skill development and daily life.

Student progress will be monitored through ongoing and objective daily data collection and analysis. Individualised programming begins with a comprehensive assessment of skills. From the assessment and parent input, individualised goals are identified and incorporated into the students Individualised education programme.

Areas of instruction include a strong emphasis on expressive and receptive language and communication, social skills, academics, self-sufficiency with self-care, home life, vocational preparation, independence, leisure skills and community participation.

The programme will also include an Adult Life Skills section offering services based on the principles of ABA to adults with autism and those with intellectual disabilities, age from 18.

“This programme’s focus is to provide support and opportunities for individuals to be successful and live meaningful lives through active participation in their homes, communities and vocational settings,” added Shaikh Rashid.

“The Adult Life Skills Programme is approved to accept funding through the Consolidated, Person/Family Directed Support and Community Living. We are working to offer residential facilities in the future as well.”

The Youth Welfare Facility project at the Alia Early Intervention Centre aims to build and operate a residential youth facility offering educational and care services to benefit adults who suffer from moderate growth delay, in order to support their skill development.
Email [email protected] for details.

More on Cover Story