A Unique Model for Caring
We have been caring for children with Down syndrome in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for almost three decades and in that time we have developed a unique model that has won international recognition. Beginning with just four children in 1987, we have grown to accommodate 150 students from birth to employment.
Under the umbrella of Saut: The Voice of Down Syndrome Society sit the Mohammed bin Naif bin Abdulaziz Schools for Down Syndrome – a network of educational institutions dedicated to teaching children with Down syndrome.
No other school in KSA serves people with Down syndrome from birth until adulthood, providing for their educational, medical and social needs. Through constant communication with hospitals, we do our best to know about every Down syndrome birth in the Riyadh area and immediately take steps to contact the families involved. Even though we cannot enroll all of these children due to capacity issues, we can at least help them get started on their life journey. For more information, please see the For Families section.
Thanks to constant support from international consultants and links with research centers in the USA, we employ effective and well-researched educational techniques for our students. We place students in classes according to age and not ability. This encourages them to develop behaviors and friendships appropriate to their age group. Meanwhile we meet every child’s individual learning needs by creating a tailored curriculum for each student.
The centerpiece of our commitment to making a better life for those with Down syndrome is the vocational program, which has successfully placed many of our graduates in productive and rewarding jobs. By coaching students in the workplace, with visual aids and exercises to help them achieve autonomy in their roles, we are starting to change the attitudes of many employers towards individuals with Down syndrome.
Despite its strong connections with international experts and research centers, Saut remains very much a Saudi institution. Over 85% of the staff and 98% of the students are Saudi nationals. In addition, all of our curricula and assessment tools are translated into Arabic. Our students are taught useful and relevant skills, including prayer, Islamic studies and vocations that apply to the local job market. In this way we ensure that our students become proud and effective citizens of their country.