Within the Cultural Cafe activities series of the College of Graduate Studies at the Arabian Gulf University (AGU), the Intellectual Disabilities and Autism programme organised a forum “Autism Spectrum Disorder: Where Educational and Medical Sciences Meet”. The speakers were Associate Professor and coordinator of the Intellectual Disabilities and Autism Programme at AGU, Dr Elsayed Elkhamisi, and Dr Maisa Al-Khunaizi from the Psychiatric Hospital in Bahrain. The discussion was moderated by the Associate Professor of Special Education and Head of the Department of Learning Disabilities, Dr Maryam Isa Al-Sherawi.
The cafe shed light on the similarities and differences among the educational and psychological perspective and the medical perspective in dealing with autism spectrum disorder, especially in the cases of diagnosis, intervention or treatment. Dr Elsayed Elkhamisi pointed out that due to the lack of general confirmed medical indications or symptoms on all cases of autism, the global diagnosis issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the American Psychiatric Association is based on behavioural, not medical indicators and symptoms.
On her behalf, Dr Maisa Al-Khunaizi said that although a child’s medical examination identifies the genetic and neurological problems suffered by the child, the child’s diagnosis in a psychiatric hospital depends on the assessment of their behavioural and social aspects. In terms of intervention or treatment, Dr Al-Khunaizi indicated the availability of some medical and pharmaceutical treatments for autism; however, they are not suitable for all cases of autism.
Meanwhile Dr Elkhamisi presented a series of sensory, behavioural and cognitive interventions conducted with these children, indicating that the person who carries out diagnosis chooses the appropriate method for each child separately.
At the end of the forum, Dr Maryam Al-Sherawi concluded the cafe by reviewing the most prominent points that were raised in the meeting, before managing the audience queries and input.