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Story | Research
18 November 2019

Supporting parents of children with autism


Trainers from Renad Academy on hand at Doha Learning Days to support members of the community

WISE’s Doha Learning Days festival has proved to be a safe space for parents and carers of children who have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder to ask questions and learn more about the neurological and developmental disorder.

Rola Satouf, parent trainer, Renad Academy, said: “We had parents approach us who have come here specifically – out in the community and outside of the formal school setting – to ask questions. In a relaxed environment, we were able to provide details, not only about Renad Academy, but other options they can explore, including people they can contact and centers they can go to.”

Renad Academy, part of Qatar Foundation’s (QF) Pre-University Education, is a school that helps children who have been diagnosed with mild to moderate Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). A key component of the school is its Early Bird program, which is specifically designed for parents and carers of young children with ASD.

The program aims to help parents understand their child’s autism, support families in the period between initial diagnosis and school placement, and establish good practices from an early age – ultimately, it helps to empower individuals. A UK-based initiative, Renad Academy was the first entity in Qatar to adopt the program, and has since offered comprehensive training sessions to many people across the country.

“Often, in the initial stages, parents don’t know where to go or what to do,” said Satouf. “They go through different stages – shock, denial, sometimes they even blame themselves. So the aim of this program is to help them support their children, including how to interact with them, and how to help them reach their maximum potential.”

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“And what we are hoping to do here specifically, at Doha Learning Days, is to reach out to more people, to guide and support them.”

Doha Learning Days is a six-day experiential festival that aims to take innovative learning techniques and technologies into the heart of the community. Organized by WISE – a member of QF – the event features a range of workshops, discussions, hands-on sessions that cover topics such as science and technology; sport and wellbeing; music and art; and special needs.

The festival is set to conclude on November 19. To learn more about its offerings, or to register for specific sessions, please visit:

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