Applying for your POD Card in the UAE

Jolene Palmer and Victoria Russo - February 12, 2024

Jolene: We are thrilled to introduce you to Victoria, our esteemed Parent Liaison Officer. Victoria plays a pivotal role in our autism support groups, offering guidance, understanding, and invaluable support to families navigating the journey of autism. Thank you for joining us, Victoria. Could you share a bit about your role as a Parent Liaison for the Autism Support Groups and how you support families in your community?

Victoria: Accessing a diagnosis of Autism for your child can be an overwhelming experience. There is a new lingo to learn, processes to navigate, and learning about your child’s thinking style differences can be an emotional experience. Learning about Autism makes you grow as person, it makes you more aware of yourself, and the thinking style differences that both you and others experience. As a parent of an autistic young adult, I’m very passionate about post-diagnosis support. I coordinate the Autism support groups at Insights. That means that I contact autistic young people and their families, helping to connect them with other people that in similar circumstances. We link young people together so that they can celebrate their thinking style and diagnosis, and we link their families together so that they can support each other to be the best possible supports for their autistic young person. I’m always happy to pass on appropriate resources, good local contacts for families, and to be a listening ear when families need a sounding board. The favourite part of my role is leading the parent support groups. Connecting with, listening to, and offering advice to others with the same lived experience can be so therapeutic. It’s amazing to watch the parents process their learning, support each other and grow in confidence.

Jolene: That sounds incredibly valuable. One topic that often arises in the parent support groups is the process of applying for a POD card. Could you walk us through your experience with this and provide some insights for families?

Victoria: Absolutely. My own journey with this started when I realized the importance of having one for my child. It involves gathering documentation, completing forms, and sometimes attending assessments or interviews. However, it's essential for accessing various support services and accommodations in the UAE. The benefits are broad, and the full list can be accessed online. Accommodations such as priority queuing at Dubai Airports can be a huge support for families who travel, and the RTA offer a Salik wavier for one car per card holder. These supports can offer comfort and reduce stress for POD card holders and their families.

Jolene: What advice would you offer to families who are beginning the process of applying for a POD card?

Victoria: Sometimes parents think that having the assessment report is the end of the journey, but it’s actually only the beginning. Whilst many families have accessed high quality diagnostic assessments at Insights or other private clinics in the UAE, this assessment report needs to be verified at a government hospital or clinic. The verification process is not as costly as accessing the diagnostic service, but my biggest piece of advice is to be ready to be persistent and patient. Don't hesitate to advocate for your child's needs. Not everyone you meet will be an expert in neurodevelopmental differences such as Autism, so it is important to bring along the diagnostic report and describe your understanding of how your child’s neurodevelopmental difference impact functionally on their life – at home, at school and socially. Neurodevelopmental differences can be a ‘hidden disability’. Whilst most people are supportive and well meaning, don’t be surprised if people ask unusual questions. If you feel nervous about advocating for your child, bring along a person to support you. If you are asked to bring the child to the appointment, but you prefer not to talk about your child’s difficulties in front of them, it may be important to have an additional adult available to take them out of the room while you talk to a doctor. Whilst most people are supportive and well meaning, it is important that you are ready to utilize resources such as support groups and online forums to connect with others who have gone through similar experiences.

I have written up the following step-by-step guide to help parents navigate the process of applying for a POD card for their child:

1. Visit the Ministry of Community Development (MOCD) Website: Go to the MOCD website at http://mocd.gov.ae/.

2. Access Smart Services: Navigate to the "Smart Services" section on the website.

3. Select People of Determination Services: Look for the option related to People of Determination Services.

4. Initiate New Card Application: Begin the process of issuing a new card for a Person of Determination.

5. Verification and Account Setup: Verify the person's Emirates ID (EID) and set up a username and password for the online service.

6. Complete Application: Fill out the application form with the required information.

7. Book an Assessment Appointment: After completing the application, book an assessment report verification appointment. There are various options available for assessment locations in Dubai including but not limited to: Rashid Hospital, Al Amal Hospital or Al Jalia Hospital. Based on Victoria’s experience she suggests using Al Noor Center as a convenient, accessible option that has reduced wait list to some other government agencies. Consider contacting Al Noor (via email at [email protected]) to request a POD assessment. This is a personal recommendation based on Victoria’s experience.

8. Attach Proof of Diagnosis: Attach relevant documents, such as proof of diagnosis, to the email when requesting an appointment for assessment.
Assessment Process: Understand that the assessment is a review of the existing diagnosis and does not involve a first-time diagnosis or comprehensive reassessment of the child's psychological or neurodevelopmental assessment.

9. Receive Appointment Confirmation: Once you've emailed to request an appointment and provided the necessary documentation, you'll receive confirmation of your assessment appointment.

10. Completion of Assessment: Attend the assessment appointment at the scheduled time.

11. Receive POD Card: After the assessment is completed, you will receive the Person of Determination Card in due course.

Jolene: Thank you, Victoria, for sharing your insights and expertise on this important topic. Your support and guidance are invaluable to families in our community.

Victoria: You're very welcome! It was my pleasure to share my experiences and insights. If you or anyone else ever have more questions or need further guidance, please don't hesitate to reach out to [email protected]
For more information on Victoria’s upcoming group support services at Insights, click here.

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