x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Call to protect children with special needs

A Down syndrome support group called yesterday for a centre that would train special-needs children to recognise exploitation and protect themselves from it.

DUBAI // A Down syndrome support group called yesterday for a centre that would train special-needs children to recognise exploitation and protect themselves from it. The UAE Down Syndrome Association also recommended stronger steps to establish equality in education, health and employment. The group also called for the creation of a council that co-ordinates efforts nationwide. The propositions followed a series of talks on the social protection of individuals with Down syndrome.

Down syndrome is a genetic disorder that impairs developmental and cognitive abilities, and affects approximately one in 800 newborns globally. Here, however, the number of children affected by the disorder is double the global average. Children with disabilities are twice as likely to suffer violence or abuse, said Dr Mohamed al Zyoudi, associate professor in the department of special education at UAE University.

Signs that a child is being abused include expressions of fear, crying and acting out for no apparent reason, increased isolation, irregular appetite and nightmares. Dr Redha Messaoudi, a Dubai Police official, said there was a need for some level of sex education for children to get them to recognise abuse and to encourage parents to report such cases. @Email:kshaheen@thenational.ae