Think Behavior and Development Center in Bahrain Autism Awareness in Bahrain
By Zahera Alanfooz, 2021 International Development Grant
Children with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) require intensive involvement and support from their parents. Siblings of children with ASD often experience feelings of loneliness, jealousy, neglect, anger, due to their parents devoting much time to their child who requires more support. Teachers and school professionals also face struggles to include students with ASD into their classrooms and often require consultation with behavior analysts or other special education professionals. Virtual schooling has also recently resulted in increased pressure on teachers and families to ensure students success with limited support.
Given that the idea of inclusion into mainstream schooling is relatively new in the Kingdom of Bahrain, the funding will be used for designing an inclusion curriculum. The curriculum will become a resource for educators and parents aiming to increase awareness and acceptance of ASD and neurodiversity. Additionally, the curriculum will facilitate inclusion of neurodiverse students into classrooms and the wider society. The curriculum will follow the principles of behavior analysis and will be available in Arabic and English. Training modules will also be available electronically with guidance on how to use the curriculum specifically for schools or parents with limited resources. A section of the curriculum will specifically target siblings of children with ASD with simple activities based on behavior analytic principles to help them interact, support, and advocate for their sibling on a day-to-day basis.
The project will involve the following steps: 1) creating a questionnaire for parents, educators, and siblings of children on the spectrum, which will be distributed with the help of local schools in Bahrain and the Bahrain Autistics society; 2) analyzing key areas in which all parties require supports; 3) materials and resources gathering; 4) curriculum design; 5) delivery of pilot workshop; 6) delivery of subsequent workshops. The project will be shared on social media, the local newspapers, and national television to reach out to people locally and to cultivate participants and share participant views and feedback to the community. Zahera Alanfooz holds a Master of Arts degree in Education from the University of Auckland, New Zealand. In 2016, Zahera became the second Bahraini to receive the BCBA credential. She works at Think Behavior and Development Center in Bahrain since 2014 as a clinical supervisor.