What is behind the rise of Autism in the UAE ?

What is behind the rise of Autism in the UAE ?

30th Aug 2016


Autism centres for Children within the United Arab Emirates are struggling to cope with demand, with waiting lists now over 100% greater than the number of beds available in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

At the Dubai Autism Centre the waiting list currently stands at almost 200 children, with 46 young people already filling the facility which originally only had the capacity for 44. This is in stark contrast to the numbers when the DAC opened in 2001, when just 16 patients were in residence at the centre.



Psychiatrists are therefore trying to determine if this astonishing rise in numbers is solely down to the population increase - the Emirates’ population has risen from 3.1 to 9.3 million in the 15 year period - or if it is due to something more serious.

Global trends have pointed towards a rise in Autism rates, with roughly 1 in every 88 newborn children in the United States expected to be somewhere on the condition’s spectrum. The Emirates - a melting pot for different nationalities - can therefore be seen as fairly representative of the world as a whole.

A number of social factors have also been suggested for this dramatic rise however. Mental conditions were seen as an area of stigma by many, more traditional, Arabic households in the country. This stigma is gradually disappearing as people begin to accept that mental conditions are no different to physical illnesses.

This factor combined with a greater knowledge of mental health conditions amongst the general public have been suggested as the main reasons for the rise, but only time will tell whether or not this has had as great an effect as many medics suspect.



Either way as Autism rates rise amongst children, and parents continue to look for assistance, the number of jobs available within the speciality in the UAE looks set to increase in the not too distant future.

If you believe that helping the system within the country is something that your career would benefit from, then sign up on our website now for job alerts and help make that dream a reality! 


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