Assiut Childhood and Development Association was established mainly for taking care of children with special needs and providing them with medical, social, economic rehabilitation when Polio used to be common in Upper Egypt. Disability, at that time, was a serious issue that shouldn’t be neglected. Children with special needs didn’t have a normal life, they were prevented even from the access to the basic care services which would enable them to be included in the community. Unfortunately, children with special needs were in large numbers all over Egypt without finding any supporting or alleviating means to help them practicing their normal daily activities. Thus ACDA’s main role was to help them to have a normal decent life
Giving Attention to children with special needs
Prof. Galal Zaki Said, founder of Assuit Childhood and Development Association, started devoting his attention to the children with special needs since he has moved from Cairo to work at Assiut in 1965. Polio used to be common at that time and many children had to perform surgeries at Assiut university hospital. After surgeries, the children with polio were in a need of rehabilitation through physical therapy and prosthetic appliance to help them cope with their disability. It was so important to follow-up those children at their villages; therefore, Handicapped Child Care Association was established in 1991, then the name was changed to be “Assiut Childhood and Development Association” (ACDA) so the association can work on other fields of development. ACDA has implemented many projects that serve children with disabilities in cooperation with other funding bodies. They aim to provide health care and social services in addition to raising health awareness especially in poor communities of Egyptian villages. There are about 7000 person with special needs with different types of disabilities received services from ACDA .
Initiative to ascertain the number of children with special needs at Assuit
Due to the misconceptions of cultural heritage that consider the child with disability as a shame should to be concealed, it was difficult to calculate the percentage of the children with special needs in the communities. so, it was a necessity to carry out a field study in 11 villages at various districts of Assuit governorate to determine the exact number of children with special needs. The result of this study demonstrated that children with special needs represent 0.46% Of the total population.
Rehabilitation services provided to children with special needs
1- Conducting a medical examination at ACDA’s daily clinic, providing appropriate treatment& prosthetic devices and performing surgeries if necessary in cooperation with Assiut University Hospital and the Health Insurance (if the child is enrolled in education).
2- Include children with special needs in their communities:
ACDA adopted applying the inclusion strategy and supporting children with special needs by implementing “from child to child” program and providing rehabilitation programs for the child with special needs by opening stimulating classes in villages near community schools, to include children with special needs with the normal children. It is noteworthy that teachers were trained on how to deal with them and how to use and implement the Rehabilitation programs according to the children needs through inclusive enjoyable activities (camps – participation in exhibitions and festivals – open day – puppet theater)
ACDA supported the inclusion decision No. 94 dated 28-4-2009 to include children with special needs by enrolling them in the governmental education or the alternative education.
3- Awareness sessions are held to raise parents’ awareness of disability and its early discovery to limit the spread of disability within the communities, and to discuss the problems that parents face with the children with special needs for developing appropriate solutions.
4- Environmental rehabilitation:
ACDA contributed also to rehabilitating children with mobility impairment, whereas it implemented “Towards a Better Life for children with motor impairment” in 2007 that adopts applying the Egyptian code for buildings, by implementing rehabilitation engineering in the public areas and service places such as (schools – hospitals – health insurance clinics – … Etc.) and raising social awareness regarding the rights of children with motor impairment, to enable them to get the basic requirements of the daily life.
The project succeeded in persuading the governor to issue a decision guarantees “circulating the Egyptian code of children with disabilities to the new buildings, as well as sidewalks and governmental service areas to be suitable for the use of the children with motor impairment, at Assiut Governorate.”
Moreover, ACDA organized round tables to study the draft law “Protection of children with disabilities” to fill its gaps, and set recommendations and suggestions for the amendment, so children with disabilities can obtain their rights fully as normal children.
Awareness-raising and training sessions
ACDA had to implement awareness-raising programs within the villages, monthly sessions with families at their homes, as well as training sessions for teaching them how to deal with children with special needs and observing their physical condition. Besides, implementing some rehabilitation and inclusive programs within villages and targeting families that conceal children with special needs.
Establishing Childhood Center to rehabilitate and train children with special needs and their families
To train and enable families to deal with their children, as it provides psychological and social rehabilitation sessions through group and individual rehabilitation sessions.
Capacity building for staff
ACDA concerns with developing the skills of the staff working in the disability field, thus the staff completed the following programs:
Disability, its causes, classifications, and methods of prevention.
Designing rehabilitation programs.
How to deal with children with disabilities.
How to become a successful speech therapist?
Developmental disorders and how to deal with them.
Metabolic disorders and their relationship to disability.
Mental disability, its measures and diagnoses.
Visual disability, its concept and classification.
Dealing with children with special needs and the basics of including them in the community.
Due to the long and specialized experience of ACDA in disability field, now it provides training workshops for the fellow associations that wish to work in disability.