Inclusion-centric initiatives, contributions to government actions, and much more. Here’s a little bit about Hasna Nada, a special needs advocate who is driven by her son to make a difference in the special needs sector in Qatar.
The ILoveQatar.net (ILQ) team is here to shed some light on her journey of 12 years and the many initiatives she has brought forward to make a change.
Upon the diagnosis of her three-year-old son being autistic, twelve years ago; Hasna found herself battling the emotions of acceptance while frantically seeking ways to access the necessary treatment and therapy he needed. Little did she know that he was going to be a catalyst for drastic change. In a world that wasn’t so aware of special needs, let alone autism, while confronting stigmas and stereotypes, the journey wasn’t easy.
For those who might be unfamiliar, autism, formally known as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), is a neurodevelopmental condition. The condition impacts an individual's communication, sensory and social interactions, thus affecting their overall environmental experiences. Autism is typically diagnosed by the age of 3 and continues lifelong; however, can be addressed and remediated with due intervention and appropriate accommodations.
The options were limited and almost inaccessible at the time which led her to take a leap into the world of special needs service provisioning. She initiated the “Child Development Center”, with the support and mentorship of Bedaya and the Al-Dhameem program of Qatar Development Bank, which went on to become renowned for being a qualitative and effective center for children with special needs, ensuring early detection and appropriate interventions.
Her initiatives didn’t stop there. With an understanding that autism and special needs are holistic subjects that need to be addressed and understood by society at different levels; she went on to spearhead concepts such as Sensory Souk, Learn Austim, Life Skills Hub, and The Chronicles of Autism Moms podcast. The latter two, being the most recent of them all.
Just when she could see a progressive change towards special needs, with current day parents and caregivers being able to access much more; Hasna realized that there was still something missing.
Her son would still struggle with inclusion in typical student life activities such as after-school classes, or weekend and holiday engagements. Unfortunately, many special needs children aren’t able to sustain in such activities for a period longer than a few days due to conventional schools and centers not being able to accommodate them due to the lack of resources or understanding.
The inception of Life Skills Hub was a product of this situation. Hasna stood up to the moment and created a home for activities and interactive experiences for all children alike. The thought behind combined activities is to broaden the mindsets of both groups of children, teaching them acceptance, and non-judgment while orienting them to the idea of co-existence.
The activities provided are for children and teenagers, that address overall personality development, social inclusion, and eventually would take them into the world of vocational training. Some of the activities that have taken place so far include; a family treasure hunt, museum tours, and a lego fun day amongst many others.
The programs are offered at nominal rates, ensuring accessibility and accommodation to all those in need.
Reach out to Life Skills Hub: @lifeskillshubqa
The Chronicles of Autism Moms Podcast pulls together mothers of autistic children based in Qatar from diverse nationalities who have navigated their way through the struggles of ensuring their children are taken care of, while emotionally coping with themselves.
The podcast documents the little memorable details that were somewhat challenging including the difficulties faced. The podcast captures the emotions, scenarios, and learnings that those in the same boat are bound to relate to or could take away from. It is streamed through various platforms; including Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, and many more.
The podcast is a branch of the Learn Autism application which on its own is a rather beneficial resource that provides guidance to parents and caregivers in terms of day-to-day life tasks, social cues, types of treatment needed, and much more. From childhood to adolescence and finally, to adulthood, the application caters to the developmental needs of each life stage.
Hasna Nada’s contribution to the awareness and development of the special needs services in Qatar has been noteworthy and commendable and has paved the way for many.
Get to know more about her here: @itshasnanada
Cover image credit: Hasna Nada
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