Sensation Station is a private, multidisciplinary therapy and intervention centre for children.
Although not a school or nursery, at WhichSchoolAdvisor.com we aim to equip parents with information on education in the very broadest sense of the word. Sensation Station is an intervention and therapy centre for children with needs that are generally not catered to in a mainstream education facility.
On our visit, Francesca Rogers Jafarian, Managing Director and her team welcomed us to Sensation Station. Francesca is British, and had a career in the UK’s National Health Service as a Young Adult Mental Health Therapist before moving to Dubai.
Francesca is also a parent to a now adult son who has an autism diagnosis. She describes how her experiences as a parent and therapist informed her passions, career and eventual leadership of Sensation Station.
Francesca believes in centres that are truly multidisciplinary and which cater to the widest possible range of needs. Her utter commitment and passion for her work is evident, not least because as a working Mum she conducted our review with her six month old daughter bouncing on her knee!
We also meet Nisha Mistry, Clinical Director. Hailing from the UK, Nisha also gained her initial experiences in the NHS. A qualified speech and language therapist, Nisha has worked with both children and adults and is obviously committed to creating a broad and high quality service at Sensation Station.
Francesca and Nisha are supported by Eva Muths, Head of Parent Liason and by a well-qualified team of Speech and Language and Occupational Therapists. Staff are recruited holding a Bachelor degree in their chosen specialism along with a minimum of two years work experience. All staff receive monthly supervision and regular training.
Bringing together their expertise and varied experiences, Nisha and Francesca base much of the Sensation Station principles and operating function on the best practice they observed in the UK, though services here are very much tailored to the needs of the UAE’s multi-cultural society.
Francesca is keen to use Sensation Station as a way of influencing inclusion in the schools with which they work. She believes that true inclusion means ‘one school fee, for all children’ and whilst this might seem a high ideal, it is very much in line with the UAE’s National Agenda policy of a ‘inclusive, barrier free, rights based society that promotes, protects and ensures the success of all groups of students’.
The team try to focus on working with schools and nurseries which themselves have high quality special education staff and forward thinking leadership. Sensation Station provides outreach services in schools and nurseries and will also provide parent education in the forms of coffee mornings and talks. The team are keen to point out that they do not accept financial commissions from schools for their work.
One of the striking aspects of Sensation Station is that its primary source of funding comes from a generous private benefactor. Whilst not a charity, the fund is able to support the centre and offer 4 -5 places (funded up to 85% of cost) to children in need. These places are means tested and based upon need (as assessed by the team). The benefactor and creator of the fund is a parent of a special needs child herself, and she and her family created the fund to help families of children who might not otherwise be able to access specialised services and support.
Applications for financial support from the Sensation Station fund are means tested, disregarding the nationality, religion, race and gender of applicants. Applications for this fund can be made via the Sensation Station website.
Key areas of the therapy and intervention provided here include:
These therapies and interventions are delivered in a series of thoughtfully planned and well equipped rooms – ranging from rooms that look like fairly typical early years classrooms, with toys, books and role play areas, a music room, a specialised sensory gym with climbing wall and a huge range of equipment to small one to one therapy rooms and ‘sensory snooze’ room – a calming place with resources designed to stimulate and soothe the senses.
Therapy programmes are created to be ‘bespoke’ to each individual child’s needs and many children receive both individual therapy and/or group work. Early intervention is considered vital. As Nisha says, what is provided here is ‘learning not education’. Fee structures are also highly bespoke – guidance can be found on the website.
Parent feedback for Sensation Station was very positive. On a practical level, a number of parents noted the easy valet parking and entry to the centre.
On a more emotional note, one parent said that “their policy statement of ‘One Child at a Time’ is not only a statement but a reality. I don’t think that a parent could ask for a better atmosphere or home away from home”. The same parent concluded ‘we are extremely grateful to have met such a wonderful family at Sensation Station’.
Another parent felt that Sensation Station supported not only their child but their family as a whole, commenting that one of their reasons for choosing Sensation Station was the “full assistance that it provides for a family like us – physically, financially, emotionally and socially”. All would recommend the centre to other parents.
Sensation Station provides free 30 minute screening sessions for parents who many have a concern about their child. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
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