Autism in the United Arab Emirates


The general research topic is about the increase in cases of autism in the United Arab Emirates over the last years. The research is attempting to establish if over the years the number of school-going children diagnosed with the disorder has increased; the repercussions for the families involved and the measures being undertaken by the respective authorities to control the situation. The research was conducted by Dr. Bariah Dardari, a leading paediatrician in the United Arabs Emirates, who is currently the head of Paediatric department with Al Zahra Hospital.

The question the researcher seeks to answer is whether there is an upsurge in the cases of kids diagnosed with autism in the United Arabs Emirates over the last few years, and the mechanisms set by the governments and other interested stakeholders to deal with the prevalence, and the toll such diagnosis have on the families concerned. The research hypothesis is that the number of occurrences of children being identified with the disorder is increasing, just like in several other regions of the world today (Siri & Lyons, 2014). The researcher, therefore, seeks to prove that actually, the number is on the increase and necessary measures, such as creating awareness among the populations, need to be taken to address the situation. Additionally, the topic of the research is exploratory, since it will require recording the occurrence of new cases and comparing the values to values recorded in the previous years, in order to establish a trend and arrive at a conclusion.

Autism is a disorder that interferes with patient’s normal learning of language, response to stimuli, understanding of the surrounding world, and an ability to engage in social interactions (Waterhouse, 2013). The signs become apparent in children with varied ages, implying that, in the identified cases, patients required special treatment and education for them to function as normal members of the society. It is, therefore, important that the research is conducted to establish a trend and initiate necessary measures to mitigate the spread. The research is, subsequently, imperative for the society.

In order to accurately carry out the research, the researcher visited special education institutions, homes, health centres, as well as the number of parents registered on waiting lists of various organizations to record the numbers of those cases. The data recorded included the ages of children, their genders, size of the family, financial stability of a family, as well as the present medication, if any, that a child is receiving. This particular information was collected to get a better appreciation of the prevalence of the disorder in the country. The researcher needed to establish the age at which the disorder becomes most apparent, the gender that is commonly affected by the condition, whether the size and financial position of the household had any responsibility to play in the case and how the financial position of the family is affected by the occurrence of the disease. The researcher believed there was a relationship between these factors and an increase in the occurrence of the disorder. The other relevant data that need to have been collected is the history of the family to identify whether any member of the household or those close to the parents has suffered from the disease before. The information would have helped to indicate whether the disorder is hereditary or is influenced by conditions other than genes.

Two prominent methods of data collection were used for the purpose of the study. The first was the issuance of questionnaires to the parents of the kids to get the pertinent information about the disorder. Such information collected using a questionnaire included age, sex, size and financial position of the family. The second source of data was the existing information available with the government, health centres, as well as special education centres. The sources provided reliable data that could be used to arrive at a valid conclusion, and they were also readily available. In the presentation of the data, the researcher presented the data using diagrams, tables and questionnaires’ summaries. The tables and diagrams summarized the information obtained from secondary sources, while the data obtained interviews were summarized in tables.

The researcher identified that there was an increase in the number of new cases. Over 800 children are admitted at various special centres in the United Arabs Emirates, and there are several others still waiting to get enrolment. For instance, Dubai Autism Centres accommodates more than 46 children, while it has a capacity of just 44 with another 200 on its waiting list. Although only 16 cases were identified in the centre in 2000, the total has increased to more than double (Volkmar et. al, 2014).


In conclusion, the research is strong, since it uses reliable data obtained from questionnaires and government records that make the conclusion valid. The findings are convincing and are consistent with other researches, conducted by different scholars. The writer would have done the study in the same way.