Dubai Centre of Special Needs is one of a small number of educational establishments focusing solely on the needs of students of Determination.
Dubai Centre for Special Needs (DCSN) was established 40 years ago, in 1980, and was one of, if not the first, centre for students of Determination to be established in the UAE. Originally set up in the late 1970's as the “Five Ace’s”, the centre was established through the determination of five parents with Special needs children in a villa donated by the Late Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum. At the same time the Board of Governors was appointed by the Ruler’s office. The Centre remains a not-for-profit organisation with fees subsidised through the support of the Dubai Government. The centre's activities are monitored by the Ministry of Social Affairs.
The centre's motto is 'Lighting the Path towards a brighter future'.
As demand for specialized education continued to increase, the “Five Aces” grew to support more than 40 students and was renamed Aseef School in 1983. As demand continued to grow, there was a need for more space, and with support from the Ruler’s Office, a second villa was donated at this time. Finally, it was when H.H. Sheikh Ahmed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum very generously donated a 300,000 sq. ft piece of land and a generous amount of money to build the first custom-built state-of-the-art centre that the “Aseef School” was renamed Dubai Centre for Special Needs.
The centre's vision is "to serve the diverse academic, physical, social and emotional needs of our students. All aspects of our organization’s curriculum and activities are child-centered, designed to assist individual learning styles to achieve success."
The DCSN team seeks to enhance the quality of life of individuals with special needs and their families by:
Currently, the Centre has students, ranging from the ages of 3 to 30 years old. The students have various kind of disabilities and coming from 25 different nationalities, though just over half are Emirati. There is a higher ratio of boys to girls at 60:40. All students receive individualised and multidisciplinary education and rehabilitation by highly qualified international staff.
The Centre employs 25 teachers and 5 therapists, together with a further 10 teaching assistants who provide 1:1 support and support the teaching staff and students during work placements and for lesson planning. The teacher:student ratio is 1:3 with an average class size of 6 and a maximum class size of 10. The minimum teaching qualification requirement is a Bachelor’s degree and all teachers either have a teaching degree or equivalent and/or additional qualification such as a Master’s degree in Special education, Psychology or Social Work.
DCSN is organised into four sections: Primary, ACE (Sensory), Adult Education and the Functional Academic section. The focus of the Primary section is on early learning through play, pre-writing and reading skills with daily living skills. ACE (Sensory) is for fine motor, gross motor and sensory classes, interspersed with therapy. The Adult education section focuses on academics, daily living skills, work placements and the delivery of the ASDAN curriculum, a British accredited programme that older students access. The Functional Academic section focuses on primarily project-based skills, social and communication skills. All students’ needs are catered for through Individual Education Plans (IEPs).
The ASDAN qualification is supported throughout by ASDAN trained teachers. Adult learners are also offered the opportunity to experience work placements which create a sense of responsibility and community participation.
Life Skills’ are a primary focus and integrated into all learning programmes and activities. Academic, Nursery, Pre-Vocational and Multi-Sensory departments have a specific programmes that are tailored to meet each student’s needs.
Rehabilitation through Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy and Physiotherapy plays a vital role in the success of the curriculum and is essential in helping students overcome mental, physical, social/emotional and behavioral challenges. Additionally, the curriculum covers other fundamental domains that are central to educating students including literacy and numeracy, science and themed activities, arts and humanities, work placements, leisure activities, multi-sensory, PE/swimming and computer/IT.
Both social and emotional maturity is endorsed as part of the learning experience at the centre.
Additionally, DCSN students operate a Tuck Shop selling healthy foods such as salads and sandwiches. Operating the Tuck Shop everyday boosts students’ confidence, social skills, business sense and math skills.These facilities along with the emphasis on therapy, education, social skills, environment, nutrition and play makes DCSN a holistic and encouraging environment tailored to each student’s abilities.
DCSN is a purpose-built facility featuring a large number of classrooms and therapy rooms to cater for students with accessibility needs (providing access ramps, corridors handles, purpose built toilets, etc). The Centre has state of the art facilities such as Snoezelen room, gymnasia, a swimming pool and soft play rooms which foster learning through play and give rich experiences. The Centre offers smart learning and assistive technology.
Main facilities include 25 Classrooms equipped with Smart Interactive Boards, 9 therapy rooms (Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy and a clinic), 5 Studios (Art, Woodwork, Pottery, Home Economics, cooking), 6 Kitchens, 2 Music Rooms, a library, and 3 resources rooms. Specialist facilities include a Snoezelen room, a Sensory Integration Therapy room, a Computer laboratory, and Indoor Soft play room.
The Centre also offers a Theater with lighting and sound system accommodating 500+ guests, a Multi-purpose Hall for large scale sports activities (tennis, basketball), an Outdoor sensory garden, Outdoor Playground and a purpose built swimming pool (for swimming lessons and hydrotherapy sessions).
The Snoezelen Room, Sensory Integration Room and Physiotherapy room have advanced equipment.
DCSN aims to serve the diverse academic, physical, social and emotional needs of its students. All aspects of the organisation’s curriculum and activities are child-centered, designed to assist individual learning styles to achieve success.
In 2015, Dubai Centre for Special Needs was selected as the winner of the Outstanding Special Needs Center for Special Education.
Over the years, DCSN has maintained its high standards of services through sponsorship and support from the the local community. The Centre is always keen to receive support from individuals and companies (as part of the latter's CSR activities) - more details can be found here.
Fees at DCSN are a flat rate of AED 47,000 per year. The Centre also offers its own fleet of buses and transport staff.
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