Do parents of special needs children need training?

An interesting press release landed in my inbox (pasted at the end of this post), about training for parents of children with special needs.

It’s interesting that it took so long, really. One of the things that annoys me, even though I’m not a parent, is when well-meaning outsiders say something ridiculous about how you wouldn’t have this child if you couldn’t handle it, blah blah and frankly, I would argue with that. Vociferously.

When you get that call or are told face-to-face that your child is ‘different’ from the normative human being, it’s definitely a shock. You have to prepare yourselves for dealing with issues other families may not have to. And there’s never been a manual. My point is, yes I think families with special needs need training and a network of support. It’s great that there’s so much support nowadays, whether it’s through programmes like these, or even  the internet!

I was only 12 when Karan was diagnosed, I never really found blogs of other special needs families until I was around 15 or so, when I started looking. I was frustrated, even as a sibling, with the lack of information on how to deal, how to cope. I discovered blogs I loved reading…other Moms listing their trials and tribulations, their successes and so much more.

My parents don’t like the idea of this blog in a way, they think I share too much about Karan and our life with him. And you may be able to tell this blog now has less of ‘life with Karan’, and more of my thoughts on the topic of special needs in general. One of them is probably reading right now and thinking that me saying they think I over-share IS over-sharing! 🙂 But I have found the special needs community online to be one of the best support networks out there. Someone else has already done the sleepless nights and shared what worked, someone else has already dealt with tantrums in the supermarket and shared their fatigue, someone else’s kid has finally learned how to use the toilet independently and they shared their joy with us.

Lately I haven’t had the time to comment, but I am a lurker on the special needs community websites and read, and get happy and sad with them. Shout-out to these blogs for being some of my favourite special needs websites to read when I can: Living with Autism / Love That Max / Planet Autism / Adventures in Extreme Parenthood / Autism by Hand

Anyway, here’s the press release that triggered this post (copied in full):

Al Jalila Foundation announces the launch of its Ta’alouf Parents Training aimed at providing life-changing skills to parents of children with special needs

Dubai, UAE; 5 October 2013: Al Jalila Foundation, a global philanthropic organisation dedicated to transforming lives through medical education and research, has announced the launch of its first training course taking place for parents of children with special needs as part of the Foundation’s Ta’alouf programme. The course spans 12 weeks and provides behavioural training for these parents to empower them with life-changing skills. As part of its sponsorship, Al Jalila Foundation has committed to providing training for 400 parents of all nationalities over a period of four years. The course is being conducted in collaboration with the British University in Dubai (BUiD), the Middle East’s first research based postgraduate university, and is designed and led by Professor Eman Gaad, Dean of Faculty of Education and the Head of the Doctoral Programme at BUiD.

Ta’alouf, which means ‘harmony’ in Arabic, is Al Jalila Foundation’s flagship community programme, which was announced in June 2013, starts today with the parents training course. Established by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Ruler of Dubai, Al Jalila Foundation is committed to fostering a unified and inclusive society where parents, educators, strategic partners and the wider community work together to empower children with disabilities.

The training provided through this collaboration enables parents to complement the efforts of educators and caregivers for a continuum of care between the child’s home and school. The first 12-week professional course includes 55 parents of children with varying special needs and will cover a range of professional behavioural skills that will allow parents to better address their children’s needs. Among the participants are Sonia Al Hashimi, Chairperson of the UAE Down Syndrome Association, and Fatima Rashed Al Matrooshi, Chairperson of the Emirates Autism Society.

Dr Abdulkareem Al Olama, CEO of Al Jalila Foundation, said: “This training is deeply rooted in our premise that learning is not only confined to the classroom because, even at home, children are in a continuous process of intellectual growth in which parental engagement is essential. This parent-centred course will allow parents to be more perceptive in interpreting their children’s behavioural cues, thus making the learning process more interactive.”

Professor Abdullah Alshamsi, Vice Chancellor of BUiD, added: “The British University in Dubai believes that all students, including those with disabilities and special learning needs, are entitled to an excellent education. Equipping parents with the tools and knowledge required to provide their children with a genuine opportunity to succeed is a vital part of this educational success. In responding to this vision, we are very proud to be Al Jalila Foundation’s partner in this wonderful initiative.”

Sonia Al Hashimi, Chairperson of the UAE Down Syndrome Association, added: “Parents face challenges, stigmas and alienation and they need support that will enable them to be better equipped to assimilate information and act on behalf of their children. Increasingly, communities are recognising the critical need for inclusion – these courses are providing that necessary bridge between parents and school, addressing the needs of these children.”

Fatima Rashed Al Matrooshi, Chairperson of the Emirates Autism Society, stated: “There have been significant developments in the education of students with special educational needs in recent years. Keeping track of these developments and getting involved in your child’s special education are among the most important things you can do as a parent. I would like to thank Al Jalila Foundation for introducing this very important initiative to the UAE.”

This latest collaboration marks another significant milestone for Al Jalila Foundation since its launch on 1 April 2013. The cumulative effect of the parents’ training will advance the organisation towards its overall aim of impacting lives across the UAE population through medical education and research.

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