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29 February 2024

From Ameera Al-Kooheji

MANAMA, Bahrain—Naval Support Activity (NSA) Bahrain, in collaboration with the Bahrain Society for Children with Behavioral and Communication Difficulties—Alia for Early Intervention, welcomed Dr. Stephen Shore, a visiting professor of special education at Adelphi University, Feb. 28.
The event allowed Sailors, parents, professionals and caregivers the unique opportunity to interact with Dr. Shore, who is not only an expert in his field but also on the spectrum himself.
“It's so gratifying to see the U.S. Navy seeking to increase their awareness, acceptance and appreciation of individuals on the autism spectrum as we collaborate towards making fulfilling and productive lives for autistic people the rule rather than the exception,” said Dr. Shore.
He led two sessions during his visit. The first included staff members and focused on interaction with autistic students from an educator perspective. The second included Sailors and families and focused on simulating and understanding what those with autism experience on a daily basis.
Dr. Rania Al Khalifa, director, Alia for Early Intervention and Alia Rehabilitation Center, was appreciative of NSA Bahrain for opening their doors and welcoming future collaborative opportunities to further autism awareness across cultures.
"By fostering interactions and dialogue, we aimed to enhance the understanding and perspective of individuals with autism spectrum disorders, as well as other developmental and neuro-developmental disorders,” said Dr. Al Khalifa. “Together, we are working towards creating a more inclusive and supportive community for children with behavioral and communication difficulties."
Benjamin F. Wright III, installation program director, NSA Bahrain, was excited, both as a professional and as a parent, to learn from Dr. Shore and understand his unique perspective on ASDs and the stigmas surrounding them.
”My three-and-a-half-year-old has been diagnosed with autism. When I got here, I didn’t know where to go or who to talk to; it was all very new,” said Wright. “I found out [Dr. Shore] was here, read one of his books, saw his videos and have been following him for a while. He is a big deal in the community, so it was a godsend that he was here.”
Capt. Zachariah Aperauch, commanding officer, NSA Bahrain, was thankful for the ability to share knowledge, support local organizations, and increase communication skills and mutual understanding between communities.
“Autism and interactions with those on the spectrum are conversations that aren’t had enough in our Navy,” said Aperauch. “We certainly wanted to capitalize on Dr. Shore’s visit, background, and expertise to better inform and equip our staff, Sailors and their families with knowledge on this incredibly important topic. We greatly benefited from this particular conversation and look forward to future engagements and opportunities with both our U.S. and host nation partners.”
NSA Bahrain’s mission is to support U.S. and coalition maritime operations throughout the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations by providing security for ships, aircraft, and tenants on board NSA Bahrain and assigned detachments. NSA Bahrain provides efficient and effective shore services to sustain the fleet, enable the fighter and support the family with honor, courage, and commitment.

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