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Third PHASE symposium discusses special education today

Dubai, 29 September 2016: Under the patronage of HRH Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, wife of HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, Princess Haya Award for Special Education (PHASE) hosts (today) a symposium under the slogan “Breaking Boundaries, Creating Excellence” at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Academic Medical Center in the Dubai Healthcare City.


The two-day symposium presents and discusses the latest research and practices in the field of special education. It is accredited with 11.75 CPD hours and includes eight renowned International speakers from leading institutes and organizations to share their experiences and the latest proven effective intervention programs.

The opening ceremony of the symposium was attended by senior government officials, heads of departments, public and private sector representatives and other dignitaries.

On her speech, Dr. Amna Al Dahak Al Shamsi, Assistant Undersecretary for Care and Activities Sector at the Ministry of Education has emphasized the increasing attention of UAE to people with disabilities, presented by providing equal opportunities in access to preventive and curative services, and enjoy equal opportunities in access to education according to the highest quality levels of life in light of infrastructure that meets the needs of everyone.

Al Shamsi also said: “this symposium has its direct effect to the field of special education and rehabilitation that shall push professionals in special education to wider spaces of creativity and development,”

Al Shamsi pointed out that the coming stage will witness increased efforts with the concerned authorities to persons with disabilities, to provide the best possible educational environment for students with disabilities”.

Mohammed Al Emadi, Head of Executive Committee stressed that the process of training professionals in the special education sector is extremely important, pointing to the need to promote the level of services provided to individuals with special needs.

Al Emadi emphasized the importance of consistent training and pointed out that the symposium is a unique opportunity for specialists in the Arab world to build bridges and network with international institutions and experts.

Praising the role of the event’s sponsors including the strategic partners: Dubai Electricity & Water Authority, National Bonds, Dubai Customs, Al Maktoum Foundation, and Emaratech; also the official courier partner: Aramex, and the Knowledge partner: Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences; whereas, the co-sponsors are Dubai Islamic Bank Foundation, Dubai Duty Free, and Emirates NBD bank.

The symposium program on the first day started with Dr. Ammar Albanna Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist at Al Jalila Children’s Specialty Hospital, who presented evidence-based treatments and future directions of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). The presentation will offer a summarized evidence-based review of treatments for children with autism. Besides, it will provide a summary of future treatment directions for children with autism.

Then, Dr. Andrew Smith, Honorary Professor in the International Centre for Evidence on Disability (ICED) at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, presented an overview of the magnitude and consequences of hearing loss in underprivileged parts of the world, and key actions needed to address it.

Dr. Susan Ellen, Professor of Pediatrics at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, founder and Director of the Regional Autism Clinic at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, discussed on her presentation the challenges in education for children and adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

While, Theresa Hamlin, Associate Executive Director at The Center for Discovery in New York, shared in her presentation a research about the most prevalent developmental disabilities and the co-occurring conditions associated with many of these disabilities.

After that, Andrew de Carpentier, Chairman of Worldwide Hearing Care for Developing Countries and Deserving Communities, discussed the issues of the enormous gap in the global provision of services for millions of hearing impaired children and adults. The presentation based on the World Health Organization (WHO) estimation that there are approx. 750 million hearing impaired people in the world. Some 75 million are Deaf (little use for hearing aids), but 80 million children have a hearing loss that can be amplified and utilized. However, living in Low and Middle Income Countries most lack access where only 1 out of 40 children has access to hearing aid.

Dr. Nicole Kinney, Chief of Clinical Services at The Center for Discovery in New York, spoke about the current brain research of the center that indicates the importance of physical exercises in promoting brain function for individuals with multiple disabilities, especially in the areas of attention, organization and planning.

Dr. Patricia Castellanos, Founder of “Smiles that Listen" Foundation, highlighted all the risks and implications of receiving cochlear implants in Low & Middle Income Countries.

Dr. Dorothy Novogrodsky, Behavior Specialist at Regional Special Education Technical Assistance and Support Center in New York, spoke about working with children with physical challenges who have vision problems and how vision development can be interrupted causing visual impairments.

The symposium included a presentation of a success story by Karl Schmidt, President at Board Bauerfeind Adriatic - MENA Region. Shmidt is a person with disability, who is inspiration to many persons with disabilities. In his presentation, he described his accident, how his life changed, and how he began his life again.

Tomorrow, participants will be able to join one of the three workshops presented by the symposium’s speakers. The workshops will discuss different topics about planning for behavioral challenges, strategies for supporting children with autism in the learning environment, and managing hearing impairment.

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