The Jerusalem Princess Basma Centre was established in 1965 as a home for children with physical disabilities, mainly those suffering from Polio – Paralysis. It came under a charitable organization licensed in Jordan No. J 131, in Palestine and in Israel No. 58-024-070-3. In June 2000, the Centre was entrusted under the Arab Anglican Episcopal church – the Diocese of Jerusalem.
Changes and developments started in the early eighties to go parallel with the needs and expectations of persons with disabilities in Palestine. In 1987 a mainstream school was started where children with disabilities are included along with children with no disabilities. In 1993, the centre was identified as one of the four National Referral / Resource Centres for the growing Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) structure in Palestine, the centres in addition to Princess Basma Centre are: K. Abu Raya Rehabilitation Centre in Ramallah, Bethlehem Arab Society for Rehabilitation in Beit Jala, and Al Wafa Medical Rehabilitation Hospital in Gaza. Princess Basma Centre provides services to children with disabilities and their families from East Jerusalem, and the West Bank through the Centre itself and through the outreach program in the West Bank.
Beginning of 1999 the provision of highly specialized services for the hearing impaired children of East Jerusalem and training opportunities for the disabled adults of East Jerusalem was started by a team of experts.
In 2010 and with fund from the EU, Princess Basma Centre included the Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) as one of the most important programs of the centre. In 3 years, the centre has become one of the pioneering institutions in autism treatment among the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza institutions. It has applied professional activities with autistic children and contributed in increasing the promotion and protection of the rights and entitlements of children with disabilities from East Jerusalem.
The project was initiated in 2010 based on the need to address autism in Palestine. As a result, a classroom, two therapy rooms and one sensory room were built in addition to purchasing augmentative and behavioral toys and tools. In addition, the staff of Princess Basma Centre working with children with Autism received trainings from local and international institution to build their capacity and improve the level of services provided for children with autism.
A year later in 2011, some children with autism were admitted to the centre. Once admitted the children received occupational therapy, speech therapy and psychotherapy, as well they received treatment sessions at the sensory room, which is a unique service provided only at Princess Basma Centre. Meanwhile, it was also important to reach to other community centers to share the experience and reach out to as many children with autism as possible. So, Princess Basma Centers’ team reached out to West Bank autism centers, parents of autistic children and professional who received training and counseling on working with children with autism. During the whole period of the project about 100 children with autism were reached, diagnosed and received the necessary treatment in the intermediate level centers.