QU-CENG celebrates World Autism Awareness Month

Qatar University College of Engineering (QU-CENG) recently hosted “Everyday Heroes” event to commemorate the World Autism Awareness Month.

Organized in collaboration with the Step by Step Centre for Special Needs, the event aimed to highlight the challenges and triumphs that children with autism and their parents face every day. It engaged more than 160 children with autism and their parents, and was an opportunity for children to showcase their skills through song and dance performances.

The event’s program included a presentation by CENG Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering Dr John-John Cabibihan and Interim Division Chief for the Division of Developmental Pediatrics at Sidra Medical and Research Center Dr Maria Fatima Janjua. Dr John-John Cabibihan briefed the audience on the ongoing research on social robotics and wearable devices for autism diagnosis and intervention, while Dr Maria Fatima Janjua advised the parents on effective interventions and various treatment approaches for autism and suggested that parents seek out reliable information from trained professionals before making any decisions.

It also included demo sessions on various wearable sensors, robotic toys, and a virtual reality (VR) simulator. The parents were briefed on an eye tracker that has a potential for collecting eye gaze data needed for autism diagnosis and a humanoid robot that interact with children through engaging activities. Additionally, the parents were made to experience the multisensory overload in autism through VR.

Commenting on the event, CENG Dean Dr Khalifa Al-Khalifa said: “Through the development of autism research at CENG, we express our commitment and response to the autism challenges in Qatar in order to find solutions for autism, and help individuals with autism in coordination with partners. The College of Engineering supports individuals with autism since autism is prevalent in many countries. The integration of individuals with autism in Qatari society is consistent with the human and social development indicators identified by Qatar National Vision 2030.”

Step by Step Centre of Special Needs Principal Mrs Olcay Connor said: “The Centre makes use of various modes of assistive technologies to support therapeutic interventions to improve children’s understanding of their environment, communication and social interaction skills, attention and motivation skills in addition to independent daily functioning skills.”

Notes to Editors:

Media enquiries to Murielle El Hajj Nahas, +974 4403 5790; [email protected]

About Qatar University:
Qatar University is one of the leading institutions of academic and research excellence in the GCC region. It provides high quality undergraduate and graduate programs that prepare competent graduates, primed to shape the future of Qatar. The organization's strong relationship with Qatari society is reflected in its community service efforts and in its vibrant research portfolio that addresses relevant local and regional challenges, advances national goals towards a knowledge-based economy, and contributes actively to the needs and aspirations of the society.