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Al Ain hospital adds special education to rehab services.

Participants of the programme undergo assessment to determine their learning needs, physical, hearing, visual and cognitive difficulties.

Children who need 24-hour medical supervision benefiting programme

A special education programme was recently added to the rehabilitation services provided for children with complex and long-term medical needs at Amanah Healthcare.

Opened last year in Al Shoaiba district of Al Ain, Amana Healthcare is a specialised provider of long-term acute care, post-acute rehabilitation and home transition, and respite care services in the UAE. It currently has 52 patients.

The programme -- the first of its kind in the UAE -- is currently running with four patients in paediatrics, aged between two-and-a-half and 12 years, and two adults who are "cognitively intact". A specialist in special needs education, and augmentative and alternative communication carries out the lessons.

According to Deborah Pierce, physiotherapist and head of rehabilitation at Amana, participants of the programme underwent assessment to determine their learning needs, physical, hearing, visual and cognitive difficulties, and "realistic individualistic goals" were set for each of them.

With the programme, "children get to experience (learning) similar to the learning environment children their age have access to," said Pierce noting that they follow an age-appropriate lesson plan that included subjects such as English, Arabic and Mathematics. Parents also get updated on their child's status and get to receive a report card.

Magi Livadaris, vice-president for Clinical Operations at Amana Healthcare, said: "We see many children who are unable to attend school because they need 24-hour medical supervision in a hospital setting ...(but with the dedicated special education programme) children at our Al Ain hospital can benefit from formal education in a way many of them have never experienced before."

And to assist with their learning, special devices were adopted. These include an Eyegaze (an eye-operated communication and control system) and a special switch that functions as a mouse and allow them to communicate and interact.

Pierce said some of their patients have very severe physical disability that they need these special devices to communicate.

"It's been ground-breaking and life-changing especially for the two adults," Pierce noted.

"Assistive technologies and educational support are extremely important in helping children with complex medical conditions live as normal a life as possible," said Sally Sodergren, director of Clinical Operations at Amana.

"Providing these services is part of Amana Healthcare's commitment to improving quality of life for each and every patient -- no matter how complex or difficult their case may be," she added.

Pierce said it is "massively important" for patients to function as normal. "Part of that quality of life is to communicate productively (and) have a sense of control of their lives."

She said that since their patients are entirely dependent on their caregivers, having control in increasing their knowledge is "really important for them".

At the moment, classes are conducted on a one-on-one basis, but a plan is underway to have a group session with two to three students with similar learning needs combined.-- olivia@khaleejtimes.com

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Publication:Khaleej Times (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Date:Jul 9, 2014
Words:510
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