Kuwait Moms Guide: What is Sensory Stars Gym? What makes it different from other kids' gyms/learning & activity centers?
Jawhar: Sensory Stars is a therapeutic learning / play gym for kids with ASD, ADHD and sensory problems. Sensory Stars is a place where kids can be kids and our staff understand the problems and know how to deal with them, our goal is to provide an enjoyable therapy session that kids enjoy.
KMG: What is sensory processing disorder?
Jawhar: Sensory processing disorder or SPD impacts the way an individual’s nervous system translates sensations into motor and behavioral responses, this is described as a ‘’traffic jam’’ of sensory processing, which can result in behavior difficulties, clumsiness, learning problems, depression, anxiety and much more.
KMG: What are the benefits of this type of gym for children with sensory processing disorders, ASD or ADHD?
Jawhar: Many children with ASD or ADHD spend so much time going from one therapy session to another and all after a day in class, so for us the fact that it’s not like a typical therapy session is a huge plus, when a child attends Sensory Stars we work on all sorts of goals, like social skills, body strength and coordination, fine/ gross motor skills, attending skills as well as all the problems that come with SPD. The list is endless as are the benefits.
KMG: Are there similar sensory gyms in the US/UK or is this one of a kind, new idea? What is the science/research behind the idea?
Jawhar: Most gyms we came across are like any other kids gym; some in the USA are for kids with ASD. We came across two in the UK and the same in US. The concept of a sensory diet has been around for a while now, a sensory gym however is relatively a new idea we are certainly the only one in the Middle East and one of a few worldwide.
KMG: Give us an example of some of the activities that Sensory Stars offers that fit the needs of ASD,ADHD children?
Jawhar: Children with ASD, very often have sensory problems that can interfere with their daily living and learning, a noise that we might not hear could be extra loud or even painful to the child, a certain smell might irritate the child or certain texture feels rough or painful next to the skin, if a child is unable to express themselves this can cause behavior problems which because we don’t have the same sensitivities we don’t understand the problem so very often they go unattended and the child is labelled with behavior problems. We offer an environment that provides something to help with all sensory issues. If a child has ADHD for example they have a problem staying on task and have lots of energy, when they first attend they are all over the place, after a few sessions we see them calm down and complete each activity before moving on to the next one, so we are actually helping them focus and directing their energy into something they enjoy.
KMG: When did you open? What are the criteria/requirements for students/children? What are the fees/hours of operation?
Jawhar: We opened in September 2014. All children attending have a diagnoses of ASD, ADHAD, or Sensory Processing Disorder. We are currently open five days a week. For more information of prices and spaces in the gym please contact us via the details mentioned below.
KMG: Who are the owners? Do they own other schools/ programs that also serve children with sensory processing disorders? What are their qualifications and expertise in this field?
Jawhar: Sensory Stars is part of the Kuwait Dream Centre (KDC), which is co-owned by Dr. Sania Kattab and Dawn Jawhar. Dr. Sania has helped establish special needs schools in Kuwait and Egypt. Dawn specialized in early intervention and behavior.
KMG: What should parents know about the Sensory Stars gym?
Jawhar: KDC is the only National Autistic Society (NAS) accredited Early Intervention Center in the Middle East, we are also a UK registered and accredited teaching center, so we are always inspected by an outside body who makes sure we offer only programs and teaching methods that are approved, as part of our accretion we have to be consciously researching ways to improve the lives of those with ASD, we are proud we are able to once again be pioneering a new project in Kuwait which will impact not only on life of children and their families, but on society and its future.
Dawn Jawhar is the co-owner of the early intervention center, Kuwait Dream Centre in Khaldiya. To contact, please call 2482-7123 or email your contact number to Sensorystarskw@gmail.com
Originally published in Issue #26 of the Kuwait Moms Guide e-Newsletter on January 20, 2015.