Couple devoted to Fujairah special needs centre see fruits of labour
FUJAIRAH // A husband-and-wife team who wanted to help disabled children have watched as the special needs centre they set up grew to become an indispensable part of life for the many families who rely on its services.
The Dimensions Centre in Fujairah city was set up by Saleh Al Mansoori, 44, and his Argentinian wife, Tamara Tagliapietra, in November 2015 with the goal of empowering children who suffer from disorders and helping them to adjust to school and their environment.
Twenty-eight children aged between 3 and 18 are regular visitors to the centre, with many of them managing to develop skills with the help of therapists.
“In 1996, I went to study electronics engineering in London and I used to see people with disabilities in the university cafeteria,” Mr Al Mansoori said.
“I had never dealt with people with disabilities, so I decided to apply and be a volunteer to work with them. Eventually I accompanied many people with ADHD, Down syndrome and autism and I learnt many things that helped me when I decided to open the centre.”
“Since we opened we haven’t got any profit – it’s not our intention to gain any money out of it. We look forward to getting the support of the Government and private sectors to offer free services to many disabled people in need,” Mr Al Mansoori said.
Lina Saffarini, a special education and behaviour modification teacher at the centre, said sessions tailored for each child’s needs were the best way to deal with many disorders.
“This approach helps us get more results, along with guiding parents on how to deal with their child, and sometimes making school visits,” she said.
Ms Saffarini said that many children arrived at the centre after a misdiagnosis and about 60 per cent of them were autistic. A one-hour session at the centre costs Dh200, but some parents cannot afford to cover all the charges, so the centre does what it can to defray costs.
“We provide offers each month, such as 10 per cent discounts, but we have many cases that need financial support, so we do our best to find them a sponsor to cover some of the charges and offer them some free sessions,” said 31-year-old Ms Tagliapietra, who doubles as the finance manager.
“Unfortunately, we can’t always find a sponsor to cover the charges but we do everything we can to keep the child, even if he attends one session a week.”
Dimensions caters for children from as young as a month old to youths up to 20 years old.
It has four rooms and four therapists specialising in special education, behaviour modification, psychology and speech and language difficulties.
A parent whose child visits the centre said he had seen a great improvement in his six-year-old son, who suffers from speech and language problems and behavioural difficulties.
“I registered Mohammed in November and he started taking behaviour-modification classes, which helped a lot in developing his behaviour and he started to say full sentences and write,” said Khalil Abdelbari, a 37-year-old Palestinian father of three.
“I have never lost hope and now he has joined school and is doing great with the help of the centre.”
Another parent said Dimensions helped him find a charity to cover some of the fees and also provided him with many free sessions.
“Abdulaziz is six years old and has cerebral palsy, he needs extra care and special learning methods,” said Hussam Bakhet, a 42-year-old Egyptian father of four.
“I work as a cashier and my monthly salary can’t cover the therapy sessions, but the centre helps me in finding a sponsor that covers some of the fees.”
Mr Al Mansoori and his wife have a vision for a huge centre for those with special needs.
The centre hopes to get additional sponsors to be able to offer their services to more children from families who cannot afford the treatment costs.
“We wish we could provide all our services for free but we have many expenses to cover to keep the centre running,” Ms Tagliapietra said.
Updated: January 19, 2017 04:00 AM