Dutch Night 2017 in Oman to help fund education of autistic children

Oman Wednesday 22/February/2017 22:25 PM
By: Times News Service
Dutch Night 2017 in Oman to help fund education of autistic children

Muscat: A classroom dedicated to educating children with autism will soon be funded, thanks to the Dutch community in Oman.
The classroom, which is one of Dar Al Atta’a projects this year, is expected to help 18 children from the Bidbid area.
The Autistic Class Project will refurbish the room, making it suitable for educating children with autism or autistic spectrum disorders. New furniture, Montessori tools, and even lights appropriate for autism afflicted children will be added to the classroom. The Centre expects to offer specifically tailored education to 18 children with special needs. Three teachers have been chosen and have already enrolled in a programme to obtain a specialised diploma.
According to the National Centre for Statistics and Information, 38,550 cases of autism were recorded in 2015 in Oman.
Last year, the Dutch community in Oman had donated OMR10,000 to Dar Al Atta’a greenhouse initiative. In 2017, that same community is hosting another function to help educate children with autism.
At the Dutch Night Sponsor Dinner, the Kingdom of Netherlands’ Ambassador to Oman, Barbara Joziasse, stated her desire and gratitude to continue to help those in need.
“It is the right of every human being to flourish. We are trying to give opportunities to people who don’t have it easy. These small opportunities in real life can open doors to bigger things,” Joziasse said.
It will be the third time that the Dutch community will be supporting Dar Al Atta’a. They donated over OMR 20,000 in the last two years to help those in need, thanks to their fundraising events. In 2015, OMR10,000 helped start a kindergarten class at Al Jeela School in Samail, as well as kindergarten classes in Luwa, and Al Jazir in the Al Wusta province.
Wladi Rabiej, the head organiser of Dutch Night, is expecting 650 guests to show up on March 10th and holds a strong belief in giving back to the community.
“The link with Dar Al Atta’a was established three years ago, as the committee wanted to not only organise a festive event for itself, but to also give something more meaningful back to the needy families in the country where we are guests. This is also appreciated by the companies that sponsor the event’s budget,” Rabiej said.
On March 10, Dutch Night 2017’s theme, ‘Paint the Town Red,’ will fund a classroom for approximately 18 students at the Al Wafa Centre in Bidbid for children with special needs.
Dutch neurologist Dr. Reinilda van Heuven-Dernison is a Health Psychologist and Cognitive Behavioural Therapist who has spent the last six years in Qatar. She has worked at several universities and was Chair of the Doha Professional Group and a stakeholder in the Mental Health in Schools Strategy.
During the dinner, the neurosurgeon expressed her excitement about the plans to create an autism friendly classroom and the benefits it will bring to the children. In an exclusive with the Times of Oman, Dr. Dernison explained the significance of an easy learning environment and how it can help someone with autism.
“It’s a very nice initiative since children with autism have information processing problems (executive problems, problems in social relations and regulation) and are easily overloaded with information. Some children have dual diagnosis or lower IQ’s which makes it harder to participate in (activities as part of) the daily school structure.
“Since children with autism often feel frustrated and overwhelmed in the daily life (which creates a lot of stress for both families and schools) specific adjustments in the school are very beneficial so that they are able to learn and work up to their potential,” she said.
Dr Dernison stated that visual aids, environments with less distractions, a good daily structure, kinaesthetic stimulation (when learning takes place by students carrying out physical activities), and a strength based approach on the part of the teachers are very beneficial to the autistic children.
“Children need a place to calm down when they are overloaded and angry. Teachers need to have enough strategies to understand their behaviour and guide them with their emotions,” she said.
The Dutch Night 2017 is a festive event which will be hosted at the Ras Al Hamra Recreational Club (RAHRC) premises on the evening of March 10. A live band from Holland will be there while dinner and drinks will be provided at the event. Ticketswill cost OMR 34 for members and OMR 36 for non-members, and can be purchased at the front office of the RAHRC. Don’t miss the chance for a fun night, and a great cause. For more information, email DutchNightOman@gmail.com.

Tips for parents and teachers:
Notice the unique characteristics of each child and build on their strengths
Find a good support system, and look for activities the child enjoys
Make sure to take good care of yourself and your own emotions.
It is important to keep a balanced life so that the child is able to unwind.
Even though the child has difficulties, set good boundaries and keep your appointments.
Learn how the child behaves when he or she is upset, and learn how to create a calm environment.
Be a part of a support group, learn from other parents and share emotions.