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Dr Oussama Abdallah

An article by one of our Autism Hero Award finalists from Syria

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Dr. Oussama Abdallah is a Syrian child psychiatrist who has been working in the field of ASD for over twenty years. His journey started as a volunteer at the Homme De Terre Association for disabilities, when he was a student at the School of Medicine, in Damascus. At that time, Autism as a subject matter was starting to be shed light on. Therefore, he wrote his MD graduation project about the Spectrum.

Following that, Dr. Abdallah travelled to the United Kingdom and continued his higher education at Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne. He was awarded an MA in Autism by the Faculty of Health, Community and Education Studies at Northumbria University. He has a Postgraduate Certificate in ‘Asperger’s Syndrome’ from Sheffield Hallam University in co-operation with the National Autistic Society.

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Currently, he is finalising his PhD in Developmental Disorders, with particular reference to the Emotional and Behavioural abnormalities in Childhood, at Ulster University.

His PhD focuses on a national plan for ASD and other learning disabilities in Syria. This study is being performed on a very large scale (over 7000 children).

In May 2010, Dr Abdallah was awarded as the ‘Leader of the Future’: ‘Dr. Oussama Abdallah has been successful in gaining an award for his submission for ‘Leader of the Future’ in the field of Learning Disabilities.

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In recognition of his achievement, he has been invited to attend the BILD 2010 International Research and Practice Conference, on 5 to 7 May 2010 which is being held at The Grand Hotel, Malahide, Dublin.  Where he will be presented with his award at the conference dinner on Thursday 6 May and also presents a keynote address on Friday 7 May 2010 at 2.15 pm for 45 mins.’   (BILD 22-04-2010)

Dr. Abdallah has been working as a National Academic Liaison Officer (ALO) in Syria for the College of Medicine and Dentistry/ BPP university – Birmingham, in addition to being a clinical consultant and scientific advisor at Wojood Centre, in the field of learning disabilities, autism spectrum disorder and alternative developmental disorders, as well as psychological support for traumatic children.

He has also been chosen as a member of the medical advisory board at AutisMedi- Turkey. As a personal project, Dr. Abdallah has been trying to connect the British experience with the initial Syrian attempts in the field of Autism, to create new links and terms that can improve the possibilities of helping ASD people in the Syrian society. After the Syrian crisis, he has worked with associations, trainees, and parents in general, and in refugee camps with great interest of ASD and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Dr Abdallah’s work includes planning and designing strategies for the benefit of ASD children and their families, as well as, improving the quality of established services in the field of psychosocial support, mental and psychological development of children, with many NGOs in the Syrian society.

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He has also been working on maintaining children’s rights in the social and educational services and giving advice to governmental agencies to take the appropriate measures of integrating ASD children in the educational system as well as providing them, their families, and the associations working in this field, with the necessary assistance and support.

Dr. Abdallah has been a project leader and research supervisor at many research projects from the Ministry of Health, UNHCR, and Northumbria University.

Mainly, the cooperative project on the impact of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, during Iraqi war, on the emotional and behavioural development of Iraqi displaced children in Syria.

He has participated in a number of national and international conferences as a keynote speaker and planned as well as attended many workshops that deal with the latest information and updates in the field of ASD research.

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This year, Dr Oussama Abdallah has been nominated as one of the three finalists for The Lifetime Award provided by the Anna Kennedy online Autism Hero Awards in London; this nomination raises hope for the entire Syrian community that works and supports people with ASD and their families in very hard conditions.

It is a real great success and a rewarding pay back that the work of a Syrian doctor in this field under the pressure of war circumstances has been recognised by a very respectful, expert, and prestigious organisation. It is a huge ‘Lifetime’ achievement that will reinforce and provide more positive efforts and future hope to the whole ASD community in Syria.  

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