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PHCC Raises Awareness of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in Schools

03 Apr 2024

Sensory-friendly rooms are equipped in some health centers to support people with ASD: Dr. Sadriya Al Kohji


On the occasion of World Autism Awareness Day, which is observed every year on April 2, Dr. Sadriya Al-Kohji, Senior Community Medicine Consultant, Assistant Director of Medicine for Child and Adolescent Health at PHCC and National Lead for Health Children and Adolescents Strategy, highlighted  PHCC services offered to ASD individuals in the community. She indicated that PHCC provides the "EarlyBird" program in Qatar, specifically designed for parents of preschool-age children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The primary objective of the EarlyBird program is to support parents in understanding autism in their children, enabling them to facilitate communication methods with their children and improve their behavior within their natural environment. To date, a total of 932 parents in Qatar have been trained on the EarleyBird program.


Dr. Sadriya added that PHCC provides ASD screening as part of the well-baby clinic’s services as it is conducted for children at age of 18 months and 30 months in Well-Baby Clinics. In 2023, a total of 25,797 ASD screening tests were administered.


In addition, sensory-friendly rooms are now available in some of PHCC health centers specifically designed for children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. The aim of these rooms is to create a positive experience for these children during their visits to the health centers and to ensure that they feel calm, comfortable and engaged in an environment that caters to their sensory abilities.


“We are pleased to conclude the educational sector’s training on ASD awareness in government primary, secondary and high schools in Qatar. This training focuses on enhancing awareness of ASD within the education sector including teachers, psychologists, social workers, nurses and all those involved with students and their parents in schools. The training material 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 recognize and understand ASD cases and provide the required support within their role in education. Through this training, PHCC strives to adapt educational settings in schools to fit the capabilities and needs of ASD children” Dr. Sadriya al Kohji said.


“The fast-track service is launched across all PHCC health centers. This service is designed to streamline and expedite care delivery process at PHCC health centers” she added.


Dr. Sadriya noted that PHCC marked the World Autism Awareness Day by organizing a variety of activities and events. PHCC health centers also marked this day by organizing many awareness-raising activities which encompassed the provision of sensory playrooms available in some health centers for children to enjoy. Moreover, various ASD awareness messages were also shared on PHCC’s social media platforms.


Dr. Sadriya Al-Kohji concluded that the events of the World Autism Awareness Day are organized this year in collaboration with Qatar Foundation and other partners in Shaqab. PHCC’s engagement included the delivery of ASD health education and awareness promotion led by its expertise physicians where various awareness-raising activities carried out including the provision of educational materials, interactive games, sensory toys and an educational presentation during the event.