Interview with Lucy Wozniak, Head of Learning Enrichment and Psychologist, Mns Bahrain.
What inspired you to become an educational psychologist?
I decided to pursue a career in education to have a direct positive impact on society. I trained as a primary teacher and taught for eight years. After teaching various children with special educational needs, I decided to pursue my Masters in Child Psychology and Development at UCL, as I saw how parents struggled to gain support in specialized child and educational psychological services in the region.
Completing my masters also allowed me to systematically explore an underdeveloped area of research in the GCC in which I am extremely passionate about: Autism Spectrum Disorder.
In many places children and adults with special needs are still stigmatized. How do you help to educate the public on these issues?
Originally I hoped through my academic research and my work to help overcome the important social challenge of integration of people with special needs in the community. Surprisingly, the stigmas that have always been assumed are not necessarily present here as the Bahraini community is very inclusive and accepting. I currently work at the only private fully inclusive school in Bahrain, and seeing how wonderfully the other students accept atypical children and treat them just as any other typical child, is incredibly encouraging and positive.
That being said, there are still cases of stigmatisation, but I strongly believe that the existence of inclusive schools, and awareness campaigns will lift the remaining barriers. Hopefully in the future, we will see ‘autism friendly’ events, such as cinema nights and airport ‘autism’ friendly areas for families.
My goals as a Shaper are to raise awareness on challenges faced by individuals with special educational needs in our region.
Why did you join the Manama Shapers?
I originally became a shaper with the goal of helping to overcome some of the challenges faced within our society. In particular, I wished to contribute to the further enhancement of the special educational needs education and research in Bahrain. My first proposal involved a project to obtain vocational training and then jobs for Bahraini young adults with autism. I also joined the shapers as I wished to develop myself and learn from other like-minded individuals.
What are your goals as a Shaper?
My goals as a shaper are to raise awareness on challenges faced by individuals with special educational needs in our region, to participate in research on this topic and to develop a network of health professionals for parents of children with special educational needs.
Do you still have free time? If so, what do you do with it?
I like to read, cook, and practice yoga. I also enjoy spending weekends helping out at the local animal shelter, BSPCA: Bahrain Society for Protection and Cruelty against Animals, walking the dogs or brushing the cats.