In Conversation With Sadia Atif - Director "Step Ahead Inclusive Lahore"

In Conversation With Sadia Atif - Director Step Ahead Inclusive Lahore working hardly on kids with Autism Neurodevelopmental disorder back

In Conversation With Sadia Atif - Director "Step Ahead Inclusive Lahore"
Behavior Technician, Neurodevelopmental disorders, difficulty in learning, Behavior therapy, Autism,

In Conversation With Sadia Atif - Director "Step Ahead Inclusive Lahore" working hardly on kids with Autism Neurodevelopmental disorder back to life.



Question:  Can you introduce yourself to our readers?

Answer: I am Registered Behavior Technician BACB USA and Clinical Psychologist working with children at Neurodevelopmental disorders for 10years now and principal at Step Ahead preschool as well.

Q:  STEP AHEAD is your project .Please enlighten  it for our readers.

Ans: Step Ahead is not only a project but my vision, the vision of seeing our kids being accepted by the community.

The vision to see them included like all other kids, to unleash their potential and let them express themselves as they are without the fear of being noticed and labeled by the society .

At Step Ahead we work with kids with Autism, ADHD, GDD, Cp and other Neurodevelopmental disorders, with a major focus on the fact that they learn maximum with their peer group, and if they would have the opportunity to mingle with other students they can gain a lot more.

Q: What is Autism and what are the symptoms through which it can be diagnosed?

Ans:  Autism spectrum disorder is a condition related to brain development that impacts how a person perceives and socializes with others, causing problems in social interaction and communication. The disorder also includes limited and repetitive patterns of behavior. The term "spectrum" in autism spectrum disorder refers to the wide range of symptoms and severity.

Autism spectrum disorder begins in early childhood and eventually causes problems functioning in society ” socially, in school and at work, for example. Often children show symptoms of autism within the first year. A small number of children appear to develop normally in the first year, and then go through a period of regression between 18 and 24 months of age when they develop autism symptoms.

Q: Can you please tell us the way you people are teaching the kids?

Ans: At Step Ahead we provide intervention according to the need and level of the child.

As mentioned the symptoms vary from mild to severe.

To provide ABA therapy 1:1 for the children who requires behavior therapy, then there are kids who needs speech therapy with little or no speech/ language  as they have difficulty in communicating. Other kids need occupational therapy as they needs assistance in their life skill or have sensory issues.

Behavior therapy, speech therapy and Occupational therapy are the most demanding therapies for Autism.

Then we have Quran class as I personally believe the pre-vocal sounds taught by Quran has no match.

We have Music lessons and physical education lessons as well.

We implement push in and pull out intervention for the inclusion.


Q: Why do children with autism have difficulty in learning within a regular classroom setting?

Ans: Autism can present many challenges to a child™s daily life. In particular, it can impact how they engage with their learning at school

Teaching the children with Autism within classroom is no doubt quite challenging especially when the teachers aren't trained, they haven't received adequate information about Autism and fails to pair themselves with the child.

The biggest problem is that many mainstream schools are unequipped to provide the support that autistic children need, as we know Individuals on the autism spectrum tend to be sensitive to social and sensory stimuli so they need few adaptations which involves alternatives for sensory seeking behaviour, frequent breaks, changes during transition and modified curriculum.

Q: What difficulties you face the most in your field?

Ans: The difficulties in my field is the lack of awareness and acceptance in the society also psycho education of the family plays a vital role in the intervention.

If parents are cooperative and understand the situation, child can show remarkable improvements. It's a triangle where school, parents and a child is involved.


Q: What makes you people different from others and what is your mission?

Ans: We strongly believe in the fact that  "Not every child learns for the same purpose, not every child thrives in the same settings and schools. Limiting a child to just one opportunity does nothing more than limit that child™s future." - "Rick Perry " For the reason we truly understand  œMainstreaming or œinclusion is when a child with autism is placed in a classroom with neurotypical children, we provide inclusion to our children at Step Ahead.

We started this idea from welcoming their siblings and promoting inclusion at their homes.

As one of the, if not the, best gift a parent can give to their child is education, we educate them, along with teaching them the life skills.

Q: Don™t you think it™s a tough job to handle?

Ans: Working with Neurodiverse children is not for the faint of heart, and daily challenges can be expected.

As we know they have impaired communication, impaired reciprocal social  interactions, sometimes it's difficult to understand their needs and wants. That's why I say the staff should be well equipped.

At times it is tough but Personally I believe if we are on a mission to change lives nothing is hard.

Q: What do you feel about secure future of these kids, Will they be able to lead a normal life after getting education and training from setups like yours?

Ans: Changes have been made in the society especially in big cities but if I talk about in general unfortunately it still needs a lot of work to be done.

The number is increasing and our schools aren't ready for the change. There's no modified curriculum made for them to give any board exam.

They have no job opportunities. For how long they will attend special centers? Eventually they will end up at homes. Proper vocational training centers should be made to make them independent and skillful.

Q: Any massage would you like to give to the society from the plateform of INFORMAL MAGZINE.

Ans: Through this platform I request the readers to spread awareness for the sake of acceptance. They are beautiful souls. They need our attention, time and empathy. The life of a parent with Neurodiverse children is full of extra challenges; please do not make their life harder.

Your single word of kindness, respect, affection means a lot to them and their families remember..... Kids need to be encouraged to stretch their shine! ...