Monday, December 12, 2011

International exchange...

Last week I attended the 1st International Conference on Learning Disabilities and ADHD in Kuwait.  It was a 2 day event hosted by Center for Child Evaluation and Teaching (CCET) and the Kuwait Association for Learning Differences (KALD).  The turn-out was wonderful! Around 2,000 people were registered to attend the lectures, and the international lecturers were truly top notch.  Here is one article from Arab Times (online) which reviewed the conference, for you to have an idea about what topics were tackled.

‘Need To Ensure Students With Learning Disabilities And ADHD Remain Part Of Society’Acting Health Minister Represents The Amir At The Confab
KUWAIT CITY, Dec 4: “We must keep in mind that individuals with Learning Disabilities and ADHD are often vulnerable members of the population and it is our duty as parents, educators, healthcare professionals and the entire community for that matter, to protect them, ensure they remain integrated in society and assist them to become productive and contributing members,” said Dr. Hilal Al-Sayer, Acting Health Minister in his speech, as he represented the Amir, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah at the opening of the First International Conference on Learning Disabilities (LD) and Attention Deficit/Hyper-activity Disorder (ADHD) Sunday at the Regency Hotel in Kuwait.

The two-day conference with the slogan “The Future Unites Us” under the patronage of HH the Amir was organized by The Center for Child Evaluation and Teaching (CCET) and the Kuwait Association for Learning Differences (KALD) and attended by delegates and experts on the relevant fields from across the world as well as teachers, educators in public and private schools, students and parents interested in learning about the latest development in the field of LD/ADHD.

In his speech preceded by the Kuwait national anthem and a recitation of the Qur’an, the Chairman of CCET, Abdullah Sharhan welcoming participants to the special needs conference, stated that the event which was timed to coincide with the worldwide celebrations of the International Day of the Disabled, will focus on learning disabilities as one of the most important and commonest types of disabilities negatively affecting individuals’ ability to read, write, compute and focus on school and academic achievement, which leads to their inability to contribute fully and positively to society because they are not able to benefit from the mainstream educational services provided by the state.

Sharhan added that the conference will concentrate on awareness, training, assessment and intervention in addition to building bridges and links between public and private sectors, governmental bodies and civil society organizations in a scientific ambience that is targeted to benefit children with LD and ADHD.

In his capacity as the representative of the Amir, Dr Al-Sayer commended the organizers of the event, saying that he was impressed by its scope and agenda as well as the impressive list of delegates who have gracefully accepted the invitation to come to Kuwait to attend, share knowledge and experiences.
Al-Sayer further stated that events of this nature, not only raises awareness in the community of the unique needs and challenges faced by parents, educators, administrators, policy makers and children themselves, but also serves as an example of the type of forum required to address and overcome them. The acting health minister, added that people should always bear in mind that individuals with LD and ADHD are often vulnerable populations and it’s the duty of parents, educators, healthcare professionals and the entire community for that matter, to protect them, ensure they remain integrated in society and assist them to become productive and contributing members of society.

The importance of the conference lies in its ability to establish social harmony between civil society organizations and governmental and non-governmental organizations. It is also a demonstration of Kuwait’s leadership in providing better services to students with LD and or ADHD including assessment, therapeutic programs, training session and educational projects, said Faten Al-Bader, Director of CCET.
Commenting on their motivation for organizing the conference, Director of KALD, Amal Al-Sayer said that the initiative for the event comes from their belief in the role of civil society organizations in achieving the objectives of the recent development plan for Kuwait approved by the Amir. She added that the basis for the development of an educational system for the disabled depends on the cooperation between governmental and non-governmental institutions.

Conference day one saw 13 different sessions and workshops given by many experts, with the first session being conducted by Dr. Gavin Reid, an eminent Educational Psychologist from the United Kingdom who has written extensively on LD and ADHD. Reid’s lecture which focused on the identification of literacy and learning needs of students with LD, also highlighted on how these needs can be transferred from an assessment protocol to classroom teaching.

Next lecture was by Shannon Green, an international consultant on learning and literacy difficulties who gave an insight into how to bridge the gap between parents and schools and how effective communication can be achieved and what strategies  can be used to by parents and teachers to establish the link. On his part, Professor Charles Haynes focused on early diagnosis and teaching for pre-literacy skills while Professor John Everatt’s session discussed reading comprehension in children with LD.

As a demonstration of the interactive nature of the conference, parents were given the opportunity to clarify the diagnosis and methods of evaluation of LD and the ways to cope with it. A number of workshops were also given to clarify the concept of Dyscalculia (math learning difficulties) and the importance of identifying the types of the condition as well as students suffering from it.

The sessions and workshops are in tune with the conference’s main objectives which include clarifying the role of institutions working in the field of LD and ADHD, provision of knowledge for governmental and non-governmental institutions as well as educational institutions. The objectives also include the provision of the latest services and learning environments for students with LD and or ADHD as well as share experience and expertise in the areas of diagnosis and treatment of the condition.

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