Muscat: Oman’s first public autism centre will be able to help more than 200 patients when it opens next year.
Work began on the National Autism Centre in Al Khoud on Sunday morning, when Minister of Social Development Sheikh Mohammed bin Said bin Saif Al Kalbani laid the foundation stone for the building.
The project is funded by the Ministry of Social Development and Oman LNG, which generously contributed OMR2.3 million.
“The company has been operating for the last 20 years and supports large development projects every five years that serves the community at large, including Sur Hospital, Turtle Centre in Ras Al Hadd, the establishment of the sailing school and provided 26 ambulances to the Ministry of Health and the Royal Oman Police.” said Sheikh Khalid bin Abdullah Al-Masn, CEO of the Oman LNG Development
“This time, Oman LNG invested in the establishment of the National Autism Centre with the hope that it will serve a wide range of Omanis, he added.
Talking to the Times of Oman, Dr. Yahya Al Farsi, Chairman of the Oman Autism Society, said that according to a research and study carried out in 2013 at Sultan Qaboos University, the number of cases in Oman was estimated at one in 165 children.
“These figures are still an estimation, but Sultan Qaboos University, in cooperation with the Oman Autism Society, is seeking to initiate more in-depth studies to determine the real rate of prevalence of autism in the Sultanate,” Al Farsi said. “Currently, the number of cases recorded by the Ministry of Health and the Omani Autism Society is some 3,000, with a strong sense that there are other cases not yet discovered,” he added.
The Centre would aim to diagnose and evaluate cases from an early age and use modern measures to develop the cognitive, motor, social and emotional abilities of those with autism spectrum disorders, as well as establish programmes to achieve their full integration into society.
“We are targeting to finish the construction of the project within a span of 15 months to accommodate up to 200 patients,” he added.
The Centre, located on 23,600 square metres, will provide a range of rehabilitation services for autism spectrum disorders from early intervention to 30 years of age, specifically in the areas of special education, occupational therapy, speech and communication therapy, psychological counselling and behavioural modification, water treatment, horseback riding, vocational rehabilitation and treatment, drawing and music, as well as counselling and guidance programmes for families dealing with these cases.