Times of Oman
Tender for new autism centre issued in Oman
August 28, 2017 | 10:10 PM
by Gautam Viswanathan/[email protected]
Autism, or autism spectrum disorder, refers to a range of conditions characteried by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviours, speech and non-verbal communication, as well as by unique strengths and differences. Photo - File
 
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Muscat: Oman could soon have a new autism centre after the Ministry of Social Development issued a tender for the construction of a new facility at Al Khoud.

According to a the tender notice issued by the Internal Tender Committee of the Ministry of Social Development, specialised companies holding a valid registration of ‘excellent’ grade certificates from the tender board can collect the tender document from the Treasury Section of the ministry’s headquarters in Madinat Al Sultan Qaboos, against the payment of a non-refundable sum of OMR850, on or before Thursday, the 14th of September, 2017.

Once completed, these forms must be deposited in a tender box at the ministry, in an envelope sealed with red wax, on or before 10am on Thursday, October

5, 2017.

The envelope mustn’t reveal the identity of the company bidding.

According to statistics from the National Centre for Statistics and Information, 38,550 cases of autism were recorded in Oman in 2015, the last year for which data

is available.

Such centres are sure to also help increase awareness of what people with autism suffer from.

“We take them with our therapists and most schools refuse whenever they see the child is autistic,” said May Ibrahim, who runs the Autism Complete Therapy (ACT) centre in both Muscat and Barka.

“They don’t want our children to sit with their children. Even for our inclusion programme, we have had to go to five or six schools until we found a school which would allow us to bring them to their

facility.”

“We have increased private centres in the country now, but we need more facilities for older children and we need society to help us accept our children, and for more schools to accept the inclusion programme,” she added, “This is a challenge for us.”

Autism, or autism spectrum disorder, refers to a range of conditions characterised by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviours, speech and non-verbal communication, as well as by unique strengths and differences. There is not one single autism but many types, caused by different combinations of genetic and environmental influences.

Currently, there are some 3,000 autistic children in Oman, and Sabah Mohammed Al Bahlani, Chief Executive Officer for the Association of Early Intervention for Children with Disabilities, has also previously called for more centres to be opened to care for autism sufferers across the nation.

“The early intervention is there, but when they reach the age of 14 or 15, they don’t have facilities to continue,” she explained.

“This is the challenge we need to work on as a society. If you have a child with a disability, the entire family needs to work together and support each other, or there will be many social problems.

“People are being shamed by society because they have been told they have a disabled child, and some parents are ashamed of this, as well,” explained Al Bahlani.

“This is changing in Oman, and especially younger parents are coming forward with their

children.

“But there is still a stigma in society, and even if parents are accepting it, the larger society is not aware of this,” she added.

“Children in school need to be educated about children with disabilities and understand their limits so that they can learn to work with them.

“We have to provide schools, provide services, provide entertainment, and not forget that you need to have facilities that everyone can participate in, otherwise the whole family will suffer.”


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