On World Autism Awareness Day, which marks April 2nd, Dr. Sadriya Al Kohji, Assistant Medical Director for Children and Adolescent Services at PHCC and National Lead for Healthy Children and Adolescents Strategies, spoke about PHCC’s services provided for children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in the community, stating that PHCC offers EarlyBird Program in Qatar for parents of pre-school aged children diagnosed with ASD.
EarlyBird supports parents in understanding their child’s autism; helps them facilitate communication with their child; and improves their child’s behavior in their natural environment. So far, 438 parents are trained on EarlyBird in Qatar.
Dr. Al Kohji added that screening for ASD is offered as part of the Well-Baby service package in PHCC. ASD screening is done at 18 months and 30 months in the child’s well-baby clinics visits. In 2022, a total of 23473 screening tests were done for ASD.
Sensory friendly rooms are now available at some PHCC health centers offered for children with disabilities with primary focus on ASD. The aim of sensory friendly rooms is to improve the health center visit experience and help children feel calm and engage in an environment that is tailored to their sensory input.
Dr. Al Kohji expressed her gratitude for the completion of educational sector’s training in public schools in Qatar on awareness of ASD. The training focuses on spreading and enhancing awareness of ASD within the educational sector, to include teachers, psychologists, social workers, nurses, and everyone involved with students and their parents in schools. The training content aims to enhance awareness of ASD and its associated symptoms, and to understand the needs of autistic individuals at all levels in order to enable education employees to identify and understand ASD cases and provide the necessary support within the scope of their role in education. PHCC also seeks, through this training, to adjust the educational environments in schools to fit the capabilities and needs of ASD children.
PHCC has also launched the Fast-Track service in all of its health centers. Fast-Track is a service designed to facilitate and accelerate the process of receiving care at PHCC health centers.
Dr. Al Kohji noted that PHCC celebrated the World Autism Awareness Day by organizing a variety of activities and events at the corporation level. PHCC health centers also celebrated this occasion by organizing a variety of awareness-raising activities as well as providing sensory playrooms available in some health centers for children. Various messages about ASD services were available at PHCC and ASD awareness messages were also posted on PHCC’s social media platforms.