Special Needs Clinics, Support, Therapy Groups

In 2014, Whichschooladvisor.com published its first comprehensive to Guide to Special Educational Needs. Within this Guide, we included a comprehensive list of Specialists, Clinics, Support and Therapy Groups. In addition, we included information about the types of diagnoses most commonly found among children. This information still remains relevant and current. Three years on, there is ever growing support for children with SEND; we have added new information and updated the original details.
Special Needs Clinics, Support, Therapy Groups
By Lyn Soppelsa
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One of the most difficult challenges faced by families who suspect or have confirmation that their child has/may have SEND, is to know whom to consult and to go to for diagnosis or support. Although the recent SEN policy announced by the KHDA  Framework for Inclusive Education no longer requires a diagnosis to be provided to the school, families are encouraged to seek specialist support as early as possible.

WhichSchoolAdvisor.com has sought advice from SEN staff working in schools and centres in Abu Dhabi and Dubai for recommendations for specialist resources to whom parents can be directed for diagnosis advice, support and therapy. In many cases, clinics and schools work closely together for training and support.

This updated article includes additional organisations and updated contacts reflecting changes since 2014. We have also included clinics, Support and Therapy groups which have provided more detailed information about their services, that were included among the original organisations featured in our Guide from 2014 - Recommended UAE Special Needs Resources

We asked a series of common questions of the new entries to find out as much information as we could to assist parents.



Autism Rocks Support Centre, Dubai 

When was Autism Rocks founded?

Autism Rocks Support Centre at Dubai Healthcare City has been operational since May 2017.

How did this come about?

The centre was set up to help and support the founder’s son Nikhil's needs who was diagnosed with Autism at the age of two. The centre's mission is to provide exceptional evidence-based therapies and social support to people of determination and their families through a positive platform of support and collaborative care across the clinic.

The centre offers ABA, Speech and OT services. ARSC offers a range of intervention options specializing with children with autism and other developmental disabilities. Our mission is to provide exceptional evidence-based therapies and social support to people of determination and their family through positive, family centred, collaborative care across the clinic, classroom and community in order to achieve each child full potential.

The Centre provides advanced treatment and functional improvements for the children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders, ADHD, Emotional Disturbance, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Down’s Syndrome, and Intellectual Disorders. By combining the best practice learning and with an internationally-credentialed multidisciplinary team we deliver highest quality and evidence-based practice, to UAE communities.

Please outline how Autism Rocks works – what are the criteria for children to be considered for your programmes, what is the process for families to contact you, what are the service offered, what are the benefits of these services?

Autism Rocks Support Centre’s customized programs are fundamentally designed to help children to achieve a greater sense of self confidence and independence. The components are incorporated into a comprehensive and holistic therapy structure. Our services target all areas of functioning that contribute to contentment and success, including; effective and meaningful communication building, cognition, behavioural and social skills development, executive functioning, physical and emotional heath, as well encouraging meaningful peer interactions and sensory integrative experiences.

Services include ABA, Speech and Language Pathology, Occupational Therapy, Learning Support services and Parents' Training.

The energetic nature of the therapies enable children to acquire all skills necessary to function as independently as possible. The ARSC therapies, methodically and at the same time, address multiple areas of functioning and development. In this way, children will be fully supported in all areas of need while also challenged to achieve without limits to enable communication and explore the social-skills areas of interest.

Please provide contact information that we may share.

Dubai Healthcare City Building 27 Block A Floor 5th Unit 502 P.O. Box 505061 Phone: 04 442 7012 Email Address: [email protected] Website: www.autism.rocks


Child Early Intervention Medical Center, Dubai

When was CEIMC founded?

Child Early Intervention Medical Center (CEIMC) was founded in 2008 by Dr Hibah Shata, who has a daughter on the autism spectrum disorder (ASD)

How did this come about?

Dubai is growing and as the number of families grows, so does the number of children on the Autism Spectrum and other learning, developmental or behavioral challenges requiring high quality services.

After extensive research on the best methods to treat children, the Founder, Dr Hibah learned that therapy using the principles of Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA), Speech and Language Therapy and Occupational Therapy, were the treatments to pursue. However the lack of trained professionals in ABA programming and therapy in Dubai and the Region made it clear that she had to seek help from experts.

Dr Hibah made a decision to combine their efforts and resources by bringing ABA services from the United States of America (USA) to Dubai. The Centre was launched in April 2008 to accept children with Autism and provide a broad range of services to families affected with Autism Spectrum Disorders, all under one roof.

The ABA Department, first affiliated in 2008 with the Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD) in the USA, grew to become an independently operated organization in June 2011, hiring its own ABA Clinical Director with over 18 years of experience in the field. The Centre continued to grow and bring in more experts, establishing Psychological Services, a Speech and Language Therapy Department, and an Occupational Therapy Department.

Who are the people behind the organisation and how many people are involved in your team?

Our Founder, Dr Hibah Shata, is a dentist from Saudi Arabia and has substantial work experience in Saudi Arabia and UAE, before founding CEIMC in 2008. Our Senior Clinical Management comprises of two clinical directors and one assistant clinical director. Our Clinical Directors are Dr Fiona Desira (Doctorate in Clinical Psychology) and Mr Jason Garner (M.A.). Our Assistant Clinical Director is Mrs Carrie Green (M.S., BCBA). In total we are 40 staff.

Please outline how CEIMC works – what are the criteria for children to be considered for your programmes, what is the process for families to contact you, what are the service offered, what are the benefits of these services?

CEIMC is a highly specialized centre which focuses on all aspects of child development from birth to 18 years. We offer psychological assessments, therapy services, special needs support and a variety of programs for children who require early intervention in learning or behaviour.

CEIMC’s inclusion model aims to make a child’s transition to mainstream schools a successful one. We offer various services such as Psychological and social skills services, Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA), Speech and Language assessment & therapy, Occupational therapy, vision rehabilitation, feeding therapy, Parental training and support etc.

Our team of qualified and specialized clinicians offer psychological, behavioural and Speech & Language disorder assessment, diagnosis and intervention for children. Our Psychologists have a key role in the diagnosis, counselling, treatment and monitoring of children with any type of behavioural, emotional and mental health concern. They specialize in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Cognitive Behavioural therapy (CBT). Our ABA program is used to teach functional and relevant skills to give young children with ASDs the tools they need to learn to succeed. It also includes comprehensive supervision and consultation services.

Our Speech & Language clinicians are ASHA (American Speech-Language and Hearing Association) certified and hold the Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech and Language Pathology (CCC-SLP) – they implement and monitor language, social and play goals set out in the individual therapy plan.

Our Occupational therapist works on implementing and monitoring gross motor, fine motor, visual motor, self-help and sensory goals set out in the Individual Education Plan (IEP). Our Vision therapists are specialized in vision rehabilitation for children having visual self-stimulatory behaviours and/or who have difficulty with moving both eyes in unison, focussing, depth perception and visual perception skills

Is there any specific research or evidence that supports the usefulness of your approaches?

Our clinic passed the CPQ (The Center for Healthcare Planning and Quality) inspection by 98% from the first visit and was awarded the First place in the Paediatric Rehabilitation Centre category by Dubai Healthcare city in 2017.

We have 90 students included in mainstream schools, and many international students attending our remote supervision program.

Please provide contact information that we can publish.

Tel: 04-4233667 Email: [email protected]. Web: www.childeimc.com. The Center is open from 8am till 6pm Sat through Thursday.


KidsFirst – Abu Dhabi and Dubai

When was KidsFirst founded?

The clinic was founded in December 2006 in Dubai, and in February 2014 for Abu Dhabi together with our GCC Consulting services for Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

How did this come about?

At the time the clinic was founded, there were no medical centres specializing in paediatrics; only adult clinics with some paediatricians. There were very few therapists Dubai, most of whom worked in special needs centres. At one point there were only 5 -7 Occupational Therapists and who all knew each other! Families were struggling to get Services for children with more complex needs, and many families and teachers were struggling to identify what was going on with their child.

We wanted to create a place for children with expertise to ensure quality was here in the UAE and Middle East so families didn’t have to travel abroad for care. We were the FIRST Paediatric Medical centre established in the UAE.

Who are the people behind the organisation and how many people are involved in your team?

Established by Nannette Wicker, an Occupational Therapist, as a grassroots movement to reach more kids and families who needed help, we have grown to be the largest provider of services in the region with over 50 licensed therapists. Our total team is near 100 amazing people who are all passionate about helping children.

Please outline how KidsFirst works – what are the criteria for children to be considered for your programmes, what is the process for families to contact you, what are the service offered, what are the benefits of these services?

Any child can enter our Medical Centre through a referral from a physician or school organization. We prefer a referral from a physician or psychologist, but frequently a child has been referred by a teacher or parent.

We have an initial consult in person or by phone to determine the best professional path for the child. We then conduct a standardized assessment in the appropriate discipline. We want the most comprehensive assessment of the child possible without costing the parents too much for multiple assessments.

Services we currently offer are developmental paediatrics, clinical psychology, educational psychology, occupational therapy, physio therapy, speech and language therapy, ABA, teacher training, parenting courses, social skills classes, camps, handwriting programs, school readiness programs and day programs and more!

Is there any specific research or evidence that supports the usefulness of your approaches?

As we are licensed Medical professionals, our programmes and ethics and evidence are supported by the medical profession.

Please provide contact information that we can publish.
Tel: 04 348 5437 (KIDS), 02 555 1437 (1KID)
Email: [email protected]
Web: www.kidsFIRSTmc.com


Pure Child Health, Dubai

When was Pure Child Health founded?

Pure started its first Dubai-based health centre in 2013 with the Pure European Chiropractic and Physiotherapy Centre in Dubai Media City. They subsequently opened another similar health centre in Dubai Motor City. Pure Child Health is the latest project and the centre does not only look at a child's health, but also at how parents can be further enabled to support their children.

Who are the people behind the organisation and how many people are involved in your team?

Dr. Mitra Chini, the Founder of Pure Child Health, has a son who was diagnosed with Autism in 2007. Following her own experience of having to seek support for him, she recognised the need for a clinic where all his needs could be met under one roof.

The team consists of highly qualified and experienced professionals, specialized in different disciplines (e.g. occupational therapy, physiotherapy, etc.) who work together to meet all the child’s developmental needs. The activities of the team are brought together using an Individualized Family Care Plan (IFCP). This co-ordinates the services and gets the team working together towards the child’s goals.

The child’s care plan is coordinated by a key worker, who becomes the main point of contact for the family. Parents of special needs children often need to travel between many different clinics in order to meet all their child’s needs. As these services generally do not communicate with one another, therapy plans are disjointed and ineffective. Pure Child Health understands the need for a holistic approach that meets all the child’s developmental needs in a family centred way.

Please outline how the Centre works – what are the criteria for children to be considered for your programme, what is the process for families to contact you, what are the service offered, what are the benefits of these services?

The centre has been built to support children with delayed developmental milestones and adolescents who experience challenges with their speech, motricity, behaviour and daily routines. It supports children and young adults who suffer from Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity (ADHD), Autism, Cerebral Palsy and other neurological as well as neuro-immune conditions. The multidisciplinary team is located under one roof, working closely together to coordinate the child’s therapy plan- beginning with the team based assessment to setting meaningful goals together and following through to achieve these goals.

The clinic offers a wide range of supports and services to the children and families attending the service. These include:

  • Multidisciplinary team assessment: Multidisciplinary team based assessments of children and families strengths and needs.
  • Individualized Family Care Plan (IFCP): An Individualized Family Care Plan which is coordinated by your key worker.
  • Key working: A Key Worker will be allocated to your child’s case who will help coordinate the service delivery.
  • Play based therapy: Individual intervention or joint therapy session with more than one specialist.
  • Group intervention: Group interventions e.g. social skills, motor skill, feeding groups.
  • Parent & School workshops: Workshops and support groups shall be organized by our team to empower and educate parents and teachers.

Please provide contact information that we can publish.

Tel: 04 513 9912 Email: [email protected] Web: https://www.purechildhealth.com/


The Developing Child Centre

When was TDCC founded?

The Developing Child Centre (TDCC) was founded in 2013 to provide support to families and children struggling with learning and/or developmental differences.

Who are the people behind the organisation and how many people are involved in your team?

The founders of TDCC are Dalya Tabari and Nof Al Mazrui’s whose vision is for a society empowered through its children. Both mothers, they are advocates of early and intensive intervention strategies for all learning and behavioural difficulties in children.

The Clinical Director is Dr. Ruba Tabari who has over 25 years of extensive experience in the field of Education and Educational Psychology across the UK and the Middle East. Tracey Warren is the Director of Education & School Inclusion.

Tracey qualified with a first degree from Plymouth University majoring in Primary Studies, English, Art and psychology and a M.Ed (Management in Education) from Huddersfield University. Tracey started her career in Khartoum, Sudan, 30 years ago, where she taught for a year in a Sudanese school before returning to the UK to continue her career in London, Essex and then in North West as a Headteacher of two schools.

A team of 60 specialist staff work together in multi-disciplinary teams, where necessary, to provide support and services to children between the ages of 1-18 years.

Please outline how the Centre works – what are the criteria for children to be considered for your programme, what is the process for families to contact you, what are the service offered, what are the benefits of these services?

The Developing Child Centre’s wide scope of services and course programmes are aimed at building the skills children need to empower them socially, academically, emotionally, physically and/or behaviourally. Families may contact the centre directly to arrange to meet with staff or may be referred by schools or health professionals.

We currently support over 830 children of 40 nationalities, 15% of which are Emiratis.
TDCC offers a full range of services from Educational and Clinical Psychology Evaluations and Reports through to Speech, Language & Communication Assessments & Therapy, Fine & Gross Motor Skills, Occupational Assessments & Therapy, Sensory Processing Therapy, a school-prep full-time Early Intervention Programme for children under 8 years of age, Social Skills Development Programmes, Attention & Listening Skills Programmes and Behaviour Management Therapy & Support. Further programmes for pre-teens, teenagers and parents are also provided.

We work closely with children, parents and schools to ensure that no child is left behind not only within the educational system but also within society at large. The aim of TDCC is to identify, build and develop the skills required by children to feel confident and succeed.

Is there any specific research or evidence that supports the usefulness of your approaches?

All staff are qualified in their specific field and follow the current practices of their discipline supported by on-going professional development. Children participating in the Early Years Intervention Nursery programme follow a curriculum based on the UK Early Years Foundation programme.

Please provide contact information that we can publish.
Tel: 04 301 1900 Email: [email protected] Web: http://www.tdcc.ae

Wilson Centre, Sharjah

When was the Wilson Centre founded?

The Wilson Centre in Sharjah was founded in 2012. It was set up by Sheena Wilson who has over 30 year’s of clinical experience. The Dubai Branch will open in February 2018.

How did this come about?

Sheena Wilson has been providing programs for children in the UAE since 2001. Over the years she collated a team of both professional and passionate therapists who share her philosophy on child development. After various projects throughout the years in 2012 she established the Wilson Centre for Child Development and Rehabilitation in Sharjah to continue to provide programmes to support families with their child’s development and to empower students with their learning challenges.

Who are the people behind the organisation and how many people are involved in your team?

Sheena Wilson along with Huda Ramadan, who have worked together for the last 14 years, have grown a team of over 30 staff, both admin and therapy staff. Our Directors and senior members of our team are from the UK, USA and South Africa.

Please outline how the Wilson Centre works – what are the criteria for children to be considered for your programmes, what is the process for families to contact you, what are the services offered, what are the benefits of these services?

We provide a multi-disciplinary team of occupational therapists, speech and language therapists, behavior therapists, psychologists and special educators for children from 0-18 years of age.

Parents can contact us directly and arrange a consultation with Sheena or one of our Directors. Our consultation with parent’s is an important first step to collect a detailed developmental history of the child, to explain the philosophy of our programs and to determine the appropriate assessments required for each individual child or student. An individualized programme is then developed from the assessment results.

Individualised therapy programmes are provided at the Centre and in Schools and Nurseries.
Occupational therapists provide sensory integration therapy, therapeutic listening programmes, motor skill and handwriting groups. Behavior therapists use a Verbal Behavior therapy approach. Behavior therapists support the children who transition to school and support the child in the classroom. Parent training is provided to carry over the behavior program to the home environment. Speech Therapists provide speech and language programmes and social skills groups along with the psychologist. The Psychologist uses the WISC and WIAT assessments, develops special education programs and supports children’s transition to mainstream school.

Our programs are designed with the objective of developing and nurturing each child’s unique potential to achieve success in the mainstream school, graduate successfully and become productive well balanced members of society. Our main ethos is to improve the child and student’s capabilities and empower them to achieve change and success neuro-physiologically, developmentally, academically, emotionally and socially.

Please confirm the number of families that you support/have supported.

Our Therapy programs support and have supported many families from weekly therapy sessions to in school support and for those not able to function in mainstream school in full time therapy programmes. Our fulltime therapy programmes have enabled those children previously unable to attend mainstream schools to successfully transition into the parents chosen school. Many of our first children are now at University and working in full time occupations.

Is there any specific research or evidence that supports the benefits of your approach?

Each of the therapy services we provide are internationally recognized and researched based. Our approach is unique as we begin by identifying the root neurophysiology causes of the presenting delays and challenges faced by each child and student. By addressing the underlying neural processing which is the foundation of human development we are able to improve the capabilities of each child.

Early Identification of a child’s needs is paramount in order to improve the child’s abilities in a shorter time with less complications.

Our team of Professionals offer workshops for Parents and teachers on baby and child development. learning development, behavior management, developing language and the importance of play are an example

The proof of our unique approach lies in the results. It simply takes one consultation to observe our unique service for yourself. 
Call: +971 6 538 3114; Email: [email protected]

Please provide any other information that you think would be helpful to readers who may not have come across the Wilson Centre before.

We now have two branches, one in Dubai (opening February 2018) and Sharjah. 

Further recommendations

Hope Medical Center

Located in Umm Suqeim, Hope is an interdisciplinary pediatric neurological rehabilitation center bringing all worldwide therapies under one roof. Hope caters for both therapy models of intensive therapy camps and long term continuous therapy. The Center provides a full-fledged integrated and individualised step by step plan that is tailored to the needs of each child to achieve the best possible outcome.

Our Team comes from all continents around the world, with relevant and highly specialized certifications and experience in the various disciplines of pediatric neurorehabilitation, Physical therapy, Occupational therapy, Sensory integration, Speech therapy, Alternative communication, Feeding therapy, Yoga Classes and Hydrotherapy. Further details can be found here - here

At Hope, a true multidisciplinary assessment is carried out before a child receives therapy in any individual discipline. The clinic believes that a child could only be addressed as a whole. An initial quantitative report addressing different areas of the child's needs is produced with recommendations and KPIs. Continuous evaluation and assessments of the child KPIs are done periodically to ensure the child’s progress. 

Contact information

Tel: 04 346 0066  Email: [email protected]  Website: www.hope-amc.com

Sensation Station

Founded in 2014 and launched in January 2015, Sensation Station is a multidisciplinary private intervention and therapy centre providing mainly out-patient therapeutic services to children with a variety of therapy needs, developmental delay and/or learning challenges along with a range of other associated services to their families, related professionals and the community.

These services include Speech & Language Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Early Intervention & Learning Programme, Spring, Summer & Winter Camps, Group Classes, CPD accredited Workshops & Training for therapists, school and nursery staff, Coffee Mornings and Workshops for parents and care-givers, Outreach service at select schools and nurseries facilitating 1:1 and/or group therapy, supporting teachers and students with Special Educational Needs (SEN).

Based at Ibn Battuta Gate, the centre is equipped with a sensory gym, a multi-sensory “Snoezelen” room and several other purpose built therapy rooms suitable for 1:1 therapy as well as small group settings. Sensation Station is fully licensed under the Dubai Health Authority (DHA). The Centre also publishes a range of online advice, information and resources for parents which is updated regularly.

 Contact Information

Tel: 04 277 6769 Email: [email protected] Web: https://sensationstation.ae

Stepping Stones

The centre offers treatment and multi-disciplinary diagnosis and assessment for children and young adults across various areas of developmental and learning difficulties such as Pervasive Development Disorders/Autism Spectrum Disorders, Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorders (ADD/ADHD), Downs Syndrome, Speech & Language Disorders, Sensory Integration Dysfunctions/ Disorders and other related areas of need.

The centre offers literacy, educational therapy and learning support services for children aged three and over. However, some students may be asked to undertake an educational assessment before commencing any therapies or services. Support is in the form of either one-to-one or group work with resident educational therapists.

There are a variety of approaches on offer including Lindamood-Bell® Programs which stimulate basic sensory functions ideal for children with dyslexia, hyperlexia, autism, and other learning disabilities.

The centre is located in Healthcare city, Dubai and can be contacted on either www.steppingstonesca.com or Tel: 04 363 5433.

The Infinity Clinic

The clinic offers Speech and language therapy.

Located on Wasl Rd, Dubai. For more information see: www.ihcdubai.com or call 04 394 8994


Support Specialists

Parenting Dubai – Therese Sequeira

Please outline how Parenting Dubai works.

Parenting Dubai is a programme offered by the Psychology Team at kidsFIRST Medical Center. I work with Mums and Dads who need support in how they are parenting their children. This can include: learning effective, evidence-based parenting strategies, understanding parent-child relationships and helping improve them, working with parents who are not parenting as a team, working with parents who have children showing a lot of difficult behaviours (at home, at school or in various social settings).

We aim to help parents understand and manage the emotional needs of their children and work with parents who have children with special needs and need guidance & support in their parenting behaviours.

How did this come about?

I was a teacher in primary schools in Australia, Papua New Guinea and UAE for 20 years, and was always interested in how parents interacted with their children. After I had my own children, I decided to commence studies in parenting. I haven’t stopped learning about parenting since I started in 2007.

Who are the people behind the organisation and how many people are involved in your team?

Nannette Wicker-Essick, the Executive Director of kidsFIRST Medical Center. Our psychology team is quite large –  details on our website. All of our psychologists can offer parenting support – but it is my area of expertise.

Please outline how Positive Parenting works – what are the criteria to be considered for your programme, what is the process for families to contact you, what are the service offered, what are the benefits of these services?

Positive parenting is an approach to parenting that aims to help children develop, and helps parents learn to manage children’s behaviour and emotions in a constructive and non-hurtful way.

Positive parenting promotes good communication between parents and children, builds relationships in families, promotes children’s development, helps recognise causes of behaviour and teaches parents how to encourage desirable behaviours & manage misbehaviours in a caring way.

At kidsFIRST Medical Center, we offer a variety of Triple P interventions for families, including seminars, individual consultations and intensive courses for groups and individuals. I work with parents who have children aged 2 -16 years. Triple P is based on over 30 years of clinical research led by Professor Matt Sanders, and is based on 5 principles: Create a safe, engaging environment; Create a positive learning environment; Use assertive discipline; Have realistic expectations; Take care of yourself as a parent. More information can be found at Triple P.

This program is for parents who have children aged 5 years or younger, who have a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder. EarlyBird provides much needed immediate support, education and guidance for parents soon after diagnosis. Developed by the National Autistic Society of England – EB is an evidence-based parenting program for parents with young children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

FRIENDS Resilience
While these are not parenting programs (there are parenting sessions offered as part of the programmes for children), FR is a range of evidence-based programmes for children, teenagers and adults who which to learn and build resilience skills. While typically-developing children can participate in the FR programs, it can also offered as an intervention for children who experience social difficulties or anxiety. Developed by Prof Paula Barrett, the FRIENDS programs have been endorsed by the World Health Organisation as best practice for the prevention and treatment of anxiety and depression.

The benefits of adopting a positive approach to parenting are wide-ranging and impact multiple parties:

Benefits to Parents: Learn and practise skills to manage children & teenagers’ unpredictable behaviour, Develop a positive parenting style, Based on good communication and positive attention to help children develop, Solves current parenting problems, Prevents future problems before they arise, Easy to understand and implement.

Benefits to Children & Teenagers: Develop positive personal and behavioural skills, Receive positive attention from parents, Learn to communicate in a positive way, Will feel good about themselves, Experience predictable consequences for undesirable behaviour, Less likely to develop behaviour problems.

Benefits to schools: Triple P has been developed and researched by psychologists and, when the skills are practiced, is proven to show an overall improvement in children’s behaviours, Reduced levels in children’s emotional and behavioural problems – including conduct and anxiety, Assist and support parents in their role of raising children, Create a more confident parent community.

Please provide contact information that we can publish.
Tel: 04 348 5437 Email: [email protected] My email: [email protected] Web: www.kidsfirstmc.com


Brain and Learning Centre

When was the Brain and Learning Centre founded?

The centre was founded in 2011.

How did this come about?

Our founder, Pooneh Roney, has been a passionate educator and school leader in the UAE with 14 years of UK and international experience. She always felt that education is broken for many children. In spite of dedicated teachers, vast amounts of money spent in schools, and hundreds of thousands of hours each year spent instructing and tutoring students, there are still far too many children who do not fulfill their true potential.

Dissatisfied with the current educational practices that left too many learners on the sidelines, Pooneh wanted to understand and address the root causes of academic difficulties for many learners and decided to undertake a Masters degree in Mind, Brain and Education at Harvard University. While she was in the US, she had met with Dr. Ken Gibson, founder of the LearningRx program.

Since the 1980s, Dr. Gibson and his colleagues have helped more than 100,000 clients with a unique cognitive training methodology designed to strengthen the core skills the brain uses to think and learn. Dr. Gibson has devoted his entire career to helping children and adults struggling with learning, reading, remembering, paying attention, and more. Impressed by the research and results of the program, Pooneh brought the program back to the UAE.

By establishing The Brain & Learning, she aimed to bring the latest cognitive and neuroscientific research to transform the lives of many learners for the first time in the UAE. We now offer Brain Training programs that go beyond symptoms and address the source of both learning problems and untapped learning potential.

Who are the people behind the organisation and how many people are involved in your team?

Our team consists of Sherine Al Najjar – Managing Partner & Director of Training, Senthurani Moorthy – Managing Partner & Director of Operations, Andy Roney – Finance Director, Pouneh Roney – Founder & Scientific Advisor, as well as our team of certified and dedicated trainers.

Please outline how The Brain and Learning Centre works – what are the criteria for children to be considered for your programme, what is the process for families to contact you, what are the service offered, what are the benefits of these services?

We offer Brain Training to learners aged 4+, making learning faster and easier. We help children and adults who have difficulty reading, can’t do their homework on their own, can’t remember what they have read, do poorly on tests, have memory problems or have a hard time following instructions /directions.

Our brains drive all learning. When we train our brains with cognitive training, it helps us learn how to become focused, calm, and gain self-control. Brain training uses intense mental exercises to target and work on the brain’s core cognitive skills. These are the skills that determine IQ.

Our programs are Intensive, Feedback based, Based on the science of loading, designed to improve attention. behavior and impulses, Tailored and offered 1 on 1 and Holistic - we schedule frequent meetings with school teachers where possible and work closely with families in order to ensure optimal results.

We cater to Preschoolers, Slow learners or students with specific learning difficulties including but not limited to ADD, ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Dyslexia, etc., Struggling students, High performers who want a more competitive edge, High school students prepping for university, Professionals who wish to optimize their productivity and focus, Senior adults who wish to maintain their mental sharpness and agility.

The first step for any candidate would be to take our Gibson Assessment so that we many have an accurate picture of their current learning skills and profile. Cognitive Testing is the first step to unlocking Brain Power because it eliminates guesswork, eliminates wasting money, time and effort on wrong treatment choices, and improves learning performance by targeting the cause rather than just the symptoms. It also provides a baseline measurement of mental strengths and weaknesses.

Is there any specific research or evidence that supports the usefulness of your approach?

Yes, our program has been shaped and structured based on 35 years of research. More information can be found on these links:

Our mother company’s site: here

The founder of LearningRx, Ken Gibson, has his own research institute where more research is cited here

Please provide contact information that we can publish.

Telephone: 04 39 29 729, Email: [email protected] Web: www.thebrainandlearning.com


Further recommendations

The Brain Workshop

Intense, targeted cognitive skills training designed to improve attention skills. Jumeirah, Dubai, www.thebrainworkshop.com.

The Lexicon Reading Centre

The centre focuses entirely on children with learning difficulties, or as they call them at Lexicon, ‘children who learn differently.’ The centre runs various classes and workshops to help children develop and educators and parents to be better equipped.

For more information Tel: 050 795 4428 Email: [email protected] Web: www.lexiconreadingcenter.org.


Support Groups

All Children Included

All Children Included is Dubai-based voluntary community group with the aim of promoting inclusive education in the UAE. The ADHD and ADD support Group has now been incorporated into All Children Included and welcomes all parents and carers of children with ADD/ADHD. The group regularly holds meetings and events and provides information about topics related to SEND.

The ADHD Support Group, originally established by Rachel Jex, continues to meet regularly during the academic year, generally at 7.30pm on the last Wednesday of the month at Dubai British School (The Meadows). All parents and carers of children with ADD/ADHD are welcome and there is now a dedicated email address for enquiries and suggestions: AllChildrenInc[email protected] The group also has its own Facebook page - DubaiAdhdSupportGroup .

The ADHD Support Group now forms part of All Children Included (ACI), a formal association under the auspices of the CDA. ACI is a neutral group of parents and professionals working together in an effort to make things easier for children with additional needs to access inclusive education, by running panel/information events, providing advice and parent support, and encouraging professional sharing. ACI does not advertise or promote any group, organisation our company, but provides the opportunity for everyone to work together to promote inclusion for children in Dubai.

Details can be found via their Facebook page - here

All for Downs Syndrome

All 4 Downs Syndrome Dubai supports parents and carers of Downs Syndrome children across the UAE. The group offers a 24 hour helpline and has a comprehensive list of contacts, schools and available shadow teachers for hire. For more information visit: here

Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, Dyscalculia and Dysgraphia

The Dubai Dyslexia Group actively supports parents of children with dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia and dysgraphia. The group holds termly meetings, regularly invites their UK based Educational Psychologist to assess UAE based children and has a wealth of information on UAE based schools and tutors. The group is a forum for specialist teachers & other professionals to meet and discuss topics of interest.

For more information contact: The Dubai Dyslexia Group, Tel: 050 652 4325, or email [email protected]


Animal-based therapy

Animal-based therapy (which has tended to be based around the benefits of horse-riding in particular) is recognized as offering a range of benefits to children with SEND. Since our original Guide, two further initiatives have opened in Dubai.

Reading Dogs

When was Reading Dogs founded?

We started working on the Reading Dogs project at the beginning of 2017 and ran our pilot scheme this September with British Safa School. We are now rolling the programme out across Dubai. Reading Dogs is an initiative from our company The Animal Agency, which we established in 2015.

How did this come about?

The Animal Agency puts trained animals into films, TV and the media, and we have always wanted to bring a programme such as Reading Dogs to the UAE as it is so popular in other countries around the world, and has shown significant benefits to children’s reading ability and confidence.

Who are the people behind the organisation and how many people are involved in your team? Please tell me about the animals involved also.

We - Karalynn Thomson and Louise Dawe are partners in the programme, and alongside us, we have a certified dog trainer (Denise Vertigen) who assesses all our dogs. Some of the dogs are already on the books of The Animal Agency, and we have also recruited dogs from across Dubai whose owners have shown interest in the programme, and whose dogs have the right temperament for the work.

Please outline how Reading Dogs works – what are the criteria for children to be considered for your programme, what is the process for families to contact you, what is the interaction that is arranged, what are the benefits of this interaction?

Reading Dogs is a service that can be accessed by anyone who requests it. Currently we are working with schools and some private venues. For the schools we work with, the teachers choose which children they would like to partake in the programme, advise us how many sessions they would like to book, arrange parental permission, and then we provide a quotation for the work and arrange the best suited dog for the group.

The sessions are 20 minutes long and during the first session we introduce the dog, talk about behaviour and do’s and don’ts around dogs, and then we start the reading. Each child reads out loud to the dog, and we recommend no more than 12 children in a group, so that each child gets the opportunity to read.

Reading Dogs don’t judge, don’t correct and help create a calm environment for the children to read in. In the pilot scheme we saw so many smiles and witnessed the confidence of the children and their reading built week on week. It really is great to see!

Is there any specific research or evidence that supports the usefulness of this interaction?
Absolutely, there have been many studies now on the effectiveness of the programme. We attach some links to some of the studies:

Sit, Stay Read Study USA
Sit, Stay, Read -USA
Davis Study USA
Reading to Dogs research
Pets as Therapy - UK
Mental Health & School children
Bruno the dog boosts pupils reading skills and gives ofsted inspectors paws for thought

Please provide contact information that we can publish.

Website: www.readingdogsuae.com
Email: [email protected]


Al Marmoom Initiative

When was Al Marmoom founded?

Al Marmoom Initiative was founded in 2014 and started operating in 2015.

How did this come about?

The center was founded by Mr. Yahya Yusuf. His son, diagnosed with Down's syndrome, was the reason why this center came up as an idea. When Mr. Yahya first saw the results of horse riding in his son (self-confidence, communication, mobility etc.) he decided that it would be a great idea for other people with disabilities to get benefited from this kind of activities and raise awareness for recreational activities and therapies for people with special needs.

Who are the people behind the organization and how many people are involved in your team?

Mr. Yahya Yusuf is the founder of the center. The rest of the team is consisted of a barn manager/riding instructor, a physiotherapist specialised in hippotherapy and adaptive riding, two horse grooms, several greenhouse workers and 8 horses of various breeds. Special mention is always given to the generosity of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai, who gifted a generous piece of land to Al Marmoom Initiative in the Emirate of Dubai.

This, along with the continued support of King Hamad bin Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa of Bahrain and His Highness Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa, has assisted us in providing special needs adults and children with therapeutic horse riding and vocational greenhouse farming programs.

Please outline how Al Marmoom works.

The Equine-assisted therapies and activities (EATA) are implemented at the charitable/non-profit Equestrian educational center where students learn to ride, drive and do basic groundwork with horses. Through EATA they improve balance, increase muscle strength, learn horse and stable management and above all, they increase their confidence and independence. Our complimentary stable management classes cater for those who may not be able to ride, but they could learn practical skills alongside the interaction with horses.

Our Greenhouses are a non-profit/social business. Our purposed built, temperature-controlled greenhouses provide special needs adults vocational and practical classes on the growing of food and flower crops. Students learn how to take care of plants from seedling through potting, packaging and sale. This course is especially beneficial to those who may no longer be in the education system and enjoy practical activities.

Al Marmoom Initiative operation is highly based on volunteers. Volunteers assist all participants during classes as side-walkers or horse leaders, they help at the stable and the greenhouse as well.

All classes are offered free of charge. Time and day of classes depend on the general schedule that our manager prepares at the beginning of each season.

What are the criteria for children to be considered for your programme?

We welcome ages from 5 years up for the therapeutic riding classes and from 2 years up for the hippotherapy sessions. All participants must have a specific medical diagnosis, mostly characterized by mental, cognitive or physical issues. Special attention is paid to participants' body weight and height, as horses can carry particular weight on their back. Students, who are considered overweight for riding, may participate in the non-riding groups or/and the greenhouse.

What is the process for families to contact you, what is the interaction that is arranged, what are the benefits of this interaction?

Either by calling or emailing, families can have their first contact with us, expressing their interest to register the candidates for the programme. Then, a student application form is sent out to be filled by the interested parties. Once, we receive back the duly filled application, a pre-riding assessment appointment is set to meet in person with the family. During the pre-riding assessment, we evaluate the ability of the candidate to ride, to follow basic instructions and we assess the behavior issues, if any. We provide our guests with a tour around the facility and explain the rules and regulations.

Please tell us about the animals involved also.

We have 8 horses of various breeds to accommodate a wide variety of students. Our horses are particularly trained for the activities of our center. They need to be sound and calm, so they get regular checkups from the vet, dentist, chiropractor and farrier and they get exercised every day to stay in a good physical condition.

Is there any specific research or evidence that supports the usefulness of this interaction?
There is plentiful evidence-based research which can be found by following the links below:





Please provide contact information that we can publish.

Our facility is situated on Al Qudra Road, Al Marmoom area, P.O. box 939788, Dubai. Office hours are as follows: 9am-1pm, 3pm-7pm from Saturday to Wednesday and 9am-1pm on Thursdays. Tel. number +971 56 7971897. Email address: [email protected]. Website: www.marmoom.net.

Riding for the Disabled- Dubai

Based at Desert Palm Equestrian Club, the RDA runs 15 therapeutic riding classes per week. There are 10 dedicated horses and a team of around 50 volunteers, although the group are always looking for new volunteers to help. For more information Email: [email protected] Web: www.rdad.ae



The WSA 2017 SEND Guide - 3 years on

SEND 2017 - Dubai Schools SEND ratings

SEND 2017 - Abu Dhabi Schools SEND Ratings

SEND 2017: UAE Centres offering SEND support

SEND 2017: Clinics, Support & Therapy Groups

New Schools with Specialist SEND support

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