Hessa Omar is a 7 year old child who has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and is a student at the Shafallah Center for Children with Special Needs, a leading rehabilitation facility in Qatar. Hessa was referred to the Mada team of Assistive Technology (AT) Specialists as part of a weekly outreach program that places the Mada team in the Shafallah Center.
As a result of her disability, Hessa primarily suffers from communication and learning difficulties. The Mada team was tasked with finding technological solutions that could improve her abilities in both those fields. An assessment session conducted by a Mada AT Specialist evaluated Hessa’s ability to understand language and recognize object and pictures. To learn more about Hessa, Mada interviewed her speech and occupational therapists, as well as her teacher. This is part of Mada’s cooperative approach which aims to involve caregivers and therapists as part of any technology driven plan that is introduced.
After agreeing on a common direction for using AT to improve the life of Hessa, Mada provided a range of devices to be trialed in different settings. These included low and high tech solutions. After examining the impact that these devices had on Hessa’s ability to learn and communicate, the Mada team recommended a symbol communications device that can speak and allow the child to make connections between images, meaning, and voice.
It was recommended that Hessa use this low tech device to prepare her for a more complex solution such as the Apple iPad which comes equipped with several applications that can support Hessa’s needs. Mada continues to work with the Shafallah team and Hessa’s family to monitor her communication skills. Once a marked improvement is noticed, the Mada team will introduce more advanced technological solutions to have a greater positive impact on Hessa’s quality of life.