Most of the special needs parents will tell you that even if they don’t have the power to make life ‘fair,’ they have the power to make life joyful and that is the goal they strive to achieve.
In their efforts to make everyday life joyful of a child with special needs, parents constantly look for opportunities to get support from the society. With the advancement in technology and research, the newer concepts and accessories for children with special needs are becoming innovative as well as more easily accessible.
Sensory Souk is the first company in Qatar to provide professional therapy tools, developmental toys and specialist educational products for children with special needs. The Souk recently organized its very first school internship program with students from Phoenix Private School’s Special Education Need department.
Rana Smith, US expatriate, and Alison Saraf, British expatriate in Qatar, are two proud and brave mothers, and each of them has a son with special needs. They enjoy the experience of raising children and appreciate every little achievement of their sons in their day to day lives.
They have turned into trainers and entrepreneurs providing necessary awareness and equipment to meet the requirements of children with special needs. Together they have co-founded Sensory Souk that is located in Royal Plaza. Being mothers of children with learning differences, they previously found it difficult to find quality education products in stock in Doha to support their children’s therapy and learning.
Nine students with additional learning needs participated in several tasks including; application and interview, inventory processing, marketing displays, and check-out process and bagging purchases.
Talking to Community, Raana said: “The students performed their roles with ease and confidence and did a fantastic job with the tasks at hand. Sharp and clever, all of these students brought their unique talents to the workplace and showed that, given the right environment, kids with additional needs are just as capable, creative, and engaging as any other child of their age.
“It was a great experience for our team at Sensory Souk and we look forward to opening up this program to other schools here in Qatar. I would extend special thanks you to Ayesha Ahmed from Phoenix Private School for collaborating with us on the program.”
Raana added: “The number one thing that you need to do is to advocate for your child. You are the person behind it all. It takes management. For me, it has been an emotional journey because I did not understand what he [my son] was undergoing. When you have the information, you see a change and a shift in your whole family life.”
Aisha Ahmed, also a British national, holds an MPhil degree in psychology. She works with Phoenix Private School as SEN co-ordinator. He herself has a 14-year-old autistic son. She said: “It was an amazing tour for our children to Sensory Souk. The nine children aged from six to nine year. They were give first-hand experience about how to have an interview for different jobs. They were taught how to sell different things and handle the customers at a shop. They also learnt how to manage shelves and how to check stocks.”
The school coordinator further said: “I have been in touch with the owners of Sensory Souk. They are doing brilliant work and have a facility where people can buy all accessories for the children with special needs. It is also a very helping idea to start an internship program for the children with special needs. We believe that if given right kind of environment, the children with special needs can act as the normal children of their age do.”
Speaking about different activities carried out by Phoenix Private School, she said: “The SEN department has made liaison with different organizations in Qatar such as Qatar National Library, Al Rayan TV station, Al Waha Centre for Special Needs etc. The school believes in providing proper environment to the children with special needs. We educate our teachers and normal students about the children with special needs. All students get education in normal classes.”
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