Sunday, January 19, 2020

Autism in Kuwait

Autism is still new in Kuwait although many children and adults have been suffering from this disorder for many years but were probably labeled as shy or a problematic child. I've trained to work with Autistic children so I am familiar with the basics. There are many centers in Kuwait but unfortunately they are so expensive most families cannot afford it and so their children suffer in silence. If you're lucky enough to work for KOC and its affiliate companies the children of employees can be evaluated and receive minimal treatment up until the age of 5 years.

The program is in the beginning stages in KOC and most children receive outpatient care in the approved centers. There are age restrictions so adults or older children may not be able to have the treatment they deserve and will most likely be labeled as disabled if they're Kuwaiti. Austism can be treated with great results if the child is diagnosed from the beginning, with proper treatment they can go on to live a fulfilling life.

Autism is still a secret here because families don't want their Kuwaiti children labeled as disabled, that's a stigma. Having an autistic child is extremely hard and can ruin relationships due to the overwhelming feeling of not understand fully what your child is going through, your child may be acting out, having trouble concentrating, non verbal and yelling because they can't verbalize their feelings.

Imagine wanting to tell someone you're hungry or thirsty but you don't know how to process your feelings or can't get the words out, you will end up being frustrated and doing something wrong just to get attention, that's the life of autistic children. There is minimal awareness in Kuwait although a lot more ads are on Instagram regarding mental health and social problems.

The cost of treatment can start at 800 KD and upwards of 1800 KD per month for 20 hours a week of treatment which means most struggling families will never be able to afford it. I'm not sure about Kuwaiti children, I think they have to be tested and once they are found to suffer from some type of disorder will then be known as disabled, they receive a card and get certain benefits including payments for specialized private schools which is in the range of 6000 KD so there are many schools popping up with 'special needs' teachers so they can benefit from that 6000 KD. I once worked in a school where there was a sweet Kuwaiti boy who was 'disabled' because he was a hemophiliac which means his blood will not clot of he has a cut. In Western countries this is not a disability but a genetic disease and children go to normal schools but the school is notified of the child's medical case.

If anyone is seeking treatment for Autism here is a list of centers/schools that offer ABA therapy and treatment:

Autism Partnership Kuwait 2296-9868

Kuwait Association for Learning Differences 2491-2974

Kuwait Counseling Center 2535-6444

Malak Special Needs Services 2202-0456

Fawzia Sultan Rehabilitation Institute 2572-0338

Stepping Stones 2256-0790

ABC Center 2296-0992

All of these centers will have a charge for testing children for disorders so make sure you ask about their fees before booking an appointment.

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