October 30, 2012

Film raises autism awareness in UAE

Gemma Chanp  |  Oct 30, 2012
When Shaima Al Tamimi's little brother Mohammed seemed hyperactive as a small child, the family simply assumed that it was because he was an overly energetic boy. But as he went from school to school, it became clear that something else was very wrong.

Fourteen years on, Mohammed Al Tamimi is a tall, powerful 18-year-old with profound autism, a condition barely encountered in Emirati society when he was a child, and still little understood - though now far more often diagnosed.

"We didn't know what autism was," says Shaima, whose family is Yemeni and has been in Abu Dhabi for decades. "Obviously we found out because my brother was diagnosed when he was four or five. He was a very hyper kid, always happy and giggly, and because he was the first boy in the family we just thought that was how boys are."

Although there are still no official figures for autism rates in the UAE, in the US one in 88 children is believed to be somewhere on the autism spectrum.

Centres such as the Dubai Autism Centre and Autism UAE offer the early intervention that can help autistic children function better, but Shaima believes there is still little awareness in the UAE of what autism means and how to diagnose it.  READ MORE >>

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