Qatar initially proposed World Autism Awareness Day to the UN General Assembly in 2007.
Qatar made a major donation to the Touro University Nevada’s Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities to help the institute provide adequate services for its community after a year of hardship.
Doha’s $3 million donation will allow the centre to rehire staff lost to the pandemic and make up for setbacks it faced last year, according to the Las Vegas Sun.
The centre was also forced to close for three months and reduce its staff from 10 therapists, who provided services to over 50 children aged 18 months-to-12 years of age, to only three. The capacity was reduced to just 11 children, Director Lisa Kunz said.
With the new donation, “the possibilities will be endless,” said Kunz, noting that some parents considered transferring their children to other facilities but had now reversed their decision.
“The therapists here are amazing,” Katrina Maves, mother of eight-year-old Caleb Maves said. “I don’t know where we would be if we hadn’t come in here.”
Touro University Nevada’s CEO and Senior Provost Shelley Berkley also said Qatar’s donation can help extend patient eligibility up to the age of 20 and hire an in-house paediatric neuropsychiatrist.
The move is part of Qatar’s donations to several partners and charities across the US in recognition of World Autism Day and Autism Awareness Month, which included The Dan Marino Foundation, Touro University, Break the Barriers, The Westview School, Organization for Autism Research [OAR], and NEXT for AUTISM.
“We are committed to enhancing educational resources, providing skills-based training, and promoting programmes that boost independence for members of the autism community,” said Qatar’s Ambassador to the United States Sheikh Meshal bin Hamad Al-Thani.
The gift will also open up more opportunities for charities and centres to conduct research on therapy methods for those with autism and disabilities in the US.
“The State of Qatar is proud to take a leading role in working with partners in the United States to ensure that individuals with autism spectrum disorder can lead full and meaningful lives,” added Al-Thani.
Qatar’s embassy to the US is also a partner with Touro University Nevada, whose Sharon Sigesmund Pierce and Stephen Pierce Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities was established in 2008.
April 2nd became recognised as World Autism Awareness Day after Sheikha Moza bint Nasser proposed it to the United Nations General Assembly in 2007.