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A little more than a decade ago, Lebanon realized its need for special education for children with learning challenges through the efforts of dedicated, pioneer activists in the non-governmental organizations. These tireless advocates relentlessly worked to elevate education in Lebanon to a level whereby children with special needs, whether physical, emotional, or learning, would no longer be discriminated against, ridiculed, or hidden in their respective communities, but would have equal access to affordable, quality education.

How long will it be before sustainable, inclusive schools are found in all of Lebanon’s region?

So far, only a smattering of uncoordinated individual initiatives are present, with the Center for Smart Kids with Individual Learning Differences (SKILD) among those who have been at the forefront of this push for equitable education. There is no doubt that all these individual initiatives have come to the rescue of children for the past decade. Yet, the journey is still extensive and the fear feels almost insurmountable that many learners with disabilities might never be able to receive a formal education and become productive, contributing Lebanese citizens.

The risks of retainment are even higher at the post-secondary level, although again, SKILD is a pioneer in our country in this new initiative as well. The center is  collaborating with one of Lebanon’s private universities, Notre Dame University (NDU). There, students with learning challenges can participate in college curriculums, while also learning employable skills and developing their own interests and talents.

Nevertheless, we still need more efforts to acquaint Lebanese society with types of disabilities and disorders that exceptional children have, like the following, but not limited to:

  1. Autism Spectrum Disorder
  2. Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) whose symptoms can include:
  3. Trouble paying attention
  4. Difficulty sustaining attention
  5. Organizational difficulties
  6. Fidgeting
  7. Excessive, inappropriate talking
  8. Inability to wait one’s turn
  9. Interrupting others
  10. Emotional Disabilities
  11. Anxiety and Depression
  12. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  13. Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  14. Personality Disorders
  15. Intellectual Disabilities, lower intelligence quotients (IQ)
  16. Specific Learning Disabilities (LD)
    1. Dyslexia, whose symptoms can include: difficulty with phonological deciphering, reading comprehension, spelling accuracy, reading fluency
    2. Dysgraphia, whose symptoms can include: writing non-fluency, illegible writing, writing off the page
    3. Dyscalculia, difficulty with number sense, along with cognitive and neuropsychological deficits
  17. Speech Disorders
    1. Impairment in the production and use of oral language
    2. Difficulty making sounds and producing voice
    3. Difficulty with speech fluency
  18. Physical Disabilities
    1. Traumatic brain injury
    2. Educational delay due to specific illnesses
    3. Visual impairment
    4. Hearing impairment
    5. Mobility impairment

Often disabilities are comorbid with other conditions and cannot be treated in isolation. This is why it takes a coordinated partnership between specialists, educators, parents and the student.In the following SKILD series of recordings ( تنمية القدرات), specialists along with care-givers and educators provide needed resources to work with and uplift students with disabilities within the comfort of homes, within the classroom, and the clinical setting.

  1. Controlling Impulsivity
  2. Understanding Digits and Numbers
  3. Understanding Enumeration
  4. Distinguishing between Solar and Lunar Letters
  5. Developing the Skill of Oral Expression
  6. Exercises to Activate Memory
  7. Developing Problem Solving Skills
  8. Developing Attention Skills Amid Distractions
  9. Developing Organizational Skills
  10. Developing Listening Skills to Facilitate Proper Writing
  11. Developing Written Expression Proficiency

“Special education was borne out of and owes a debt to, the civil rights movement …concerns about racial equity were central to litigation… that led to the promulgation of the first special education legislation (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, IDEA)…”

In conclusion, we look forward to you taking advantage of these learning opportunities and hearing your feedback. We again invite you to share with SKILD staff the ideas or topics about which you wish to learn more. We continue to hope that our educational system makes qualified, accredited, inclusive schools equally accessible to all children irrespective of their family’s background. Special education has become an inalienable right for every child with learning challenges

Maysa Hajj

Maysa Hajj joined LSESD in September 2020 as the Senior Administrative Officer. Maysa is not a newcomer to the LSESD community. She returned to LSESD after a brief interruption of a journey that lasted 7 years (from 2011 until 2019). Working at LSESD turned out to be the ultimate environment for sharing the knowledge and skills she had learned and developed over nearly 10 years of university studies at the American University of Beirut and another 10 years serving at the Institute for Women’s Studies in the Arab World at the Lebanese American University.

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