Development of the Educational Program
The Center has exerted great efforts in studying the universal programs in America and European countries and benefited from these experiences during their visits to the Center and training the teachers. A curriculum was extracted consistent with the social environment of the autistic child in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Therefore, this curriculum is considered the first organized Arabic curriculum based on sound science and based on the fundamentals of education . The program relies on school day activities which require a complement family program to the services provided at the center.
The curriculum focuses on:
First: structured training, routine activities, gradual reduction of routine for children, and attempting to rehabilitate children to practice the daily normal life.
Second: training according to, the capabilities of the students.
Third: method of education (behavioral and cognitive education).
Fourth: amending behavior through positive - negative reinforcement.
Methods of Education Used in the Center:
Picture Exchange Communication System.
Early intervention programs based on comprehensive assessment and the foundations of behavior modifications.
Applied Behavioral Analysis.
The educational programs followed
The Center applies the TEACCH (Treatment and Education of Autistic and Related Communication Handicapped Children) program.
Jeddah Autism Center is considered the first Arab center specialized in the field of training and rehabilitating autistic individuals. It uses TEACCH program to educate and support children’s abilities. The Center’s teaching staff have been trained to use this program which provides the greatest opportunity to develop children’s abilities and assist them to meet their everyday needs independently.
TEACCH program is the first educational program designed to educate and train autistic children in University of North Carolina in the United States of America. Dr. Eric Schopler designed it in 1972. It includes organizing the environment, schedules, individual work system, visual aids, visual organization, and learning the work routine. It is the outcome of a thirty-year-old experiment and research to treat and educate autistic children and children with similar communication disabilities.
The program link is: http://teacch.com
Currently, the Center is working on setting up a development plan to benefit from the Applied Behavioral Analysis program. Education methods based on this program proved to be efficient successful for many children including the children affected by autism.
The basic fields on which the educational program for development of skills focuses
- Language and communication
- Fine motor
- Gross motor
Mechanism of Applying the Educational Program
Jeddah Autism Center has a special program (informal assessment) based on the abilities and needs of each student for two hours a day in an individual lesson for 15 – 30 days. During this period, the Center identifies the child, assesses their abilities in cognitive and language skills, self-care, fine motor and gross motor skills, and behavioral and social skills. Based on the results of this assessment, an individual educational plan will be set, the educational objectives will be created, and the program serving these objectives will be defined. The training starts with two hours a day. Then the duration increases according to the child’s readiness till they reach full time in groups that may involve three to four children.
Educational stages in the center
Early intervention starts with new children whose ages range between 3 and 6 years. Children spend one year or two in this phase according to their ability to pass its requirements. Training in this phase is individual. In this phase, a child starts to learn the skills of attention, visual communication, and response. In addition, a child also learns to develop social skills, language, communication, imagination skills, cognitive skills, self-care, fine motor and gross motor skills, and behavioral skills. This phase aims at preparing a child to work ina group of other children in order to obtain the basic communication skills. Consequently, the child will be able to follow an organized educational system and to improve their behavioral skills.
Children whose ages range between 7 and 12 years, are enrolled in this phase. The child continues to learn communication and self-care skills, social and behavioral skills and playing skills. This is in addition to preparing them to receive some basics of reading, writing and mathematics according to their abilities.
Practical/ Vocational Phase:
The objective of this program is to enable the child to depend more on themselves and develop their abilities in order to be an effective member in the domain of their family and community. It also helps them to enjoy the activities available for them and be able to apply the skills they have learned in the Center independently.
Supportive Services and Educational Programs:
Speech and Communication Department:
The speech and communication department represents the cornerstone in the Center. It defines the children’s level of communication and language and sets objectives and plans required for developing these abilities. It also sets solutions for behavioral problems resulting from inability or weak ability to communicate. It also defines the alternative means of communication to suit every child separately. The department provides the family with guidelines and directions about how to communicate with their children or the problems they confront by using training methods recognized in the speech field including communication cards visual means are used as well.
The sports department is interested in setting up a sports program to be applied on all the Center’s students with their different ages and individual abilities. It also strengthens the various organs of the body, develops the cognitive and social aspects, and improve their hidden potential energies, and express them freely in a healthy proper manner. This training includes swimming, basketball, football, simplified power games, and participation in competitions with other centers on the local and Gulf level in tournaments of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Arab Gulf countries.
Art Education Department:
The art education department achieves basic objectives which contribute to providing concepts that activate awareness, helps autistic children to express their feelings, and teaches them how to occupy their leisure time by carrying out useful activities. It also contributes to developing their comprehensive perception of their surroundings, discovering the talented children, and developing their talents. Students are taught all phases of drawing, photography, dough, ceramics, metals, textiles, printing on cloth, and paper and leather works. Contemporary methods of art education are used.
In this department, students are trained on programs to help them in all fields, for example strengthening the visual communication and enhancing children’s skills of perception like classification and matching. They are also trained on academic skills like letters, numbers and colors. The skills learned help them either in school or at home and to use their leisure time. Properly, some autistic students, who have advanced skills, benefit from using computers to the and Holy Quran, develop and acquire Arabic and English languages, and use the Internet for searching and communication. They are also trained on the computer as a future profession by training them to have quick typing skills in Arabic and English, editing texts and presentations, digital photography and becoming professionals in graphics by using specialized programs.
The Center organizes parties, competitions, trips and various recreational activities which contribute to activating social skills and encourage them to be a part of their social environment.