Govt failing in treatment of autistic children, says support group

The Autism Families Society said the fact that 420 Saudi autistic patients are being treated in Jordan centers alone indicate weak service is being provided in Saudi Arabia, the head of the society was quoted as saying by Okaz newspaper.

The society said the number of these patients in the country is increasing as autism affects one in 66 children.

The only recent development in patients’ support was the government obliging insurance companies to cover autism cases with policies of a maximum ceiling of SR15,000.

Princess Samira bint Abdullah Al-Farhan, chairwoman of the society, said some government entities are “careless” when it comes to autistic patients.

The insufficient number of specialist centers in the Kingdom requires that parents send their children to Kuwait and Jordan.

“There are shortcomings, which accountability is on the ministries of Health, Education and Labor and Social Development,” she told the newspaper, calling for a more active implementation of the national autism project.

She said medically diagnosing autistic patients in Saudi Arabia “takes no more than 15 minutes,” blaming the Ministry of Health for not providing enough specialist clinics and specialists.

“To examine an autistic child, you need several specializations that start with brain and neurology and includes psychology, as to not confuse the illness with other behaviors acquired from the environment.”


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