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The Faces of IDEAS Autism Centre

Yayasan Sime Darby (YSD) has come a long way in raising awareness about autism through its support for IDEAS Autism Centre (IAC). Since 2014, YSD has committed RM4.45 million to IAC to carry out a holistic early intervention, care, therapy, and education to autistic children. From 2014 to 2019, YSD’s support had enabled IAC to assist 93 children with autism, 86 of whom come from underprivileged families, to undergo early intervention programmes which successfully enabled 41 of them to be enrolled in mainstream schools.

Raising children with autism is no easy feat. However, having access to knowledge resources, tools and support from organisations like IAC may help ease the fear and confusion in such a challenging yet rewarding journey. To celebrate and promote Autism Awareness Month, IAC shared several interviews that shine a light on autism and the challenges of caring for children who are affected by the developmental condition.

INTERVIEW WITH THE PRINCIPAL OF IAC, MRS. SHARIFAH SALLEH

Sockalingam providing medical consultation to a flood victim.

How do we define autism?

Autism is a neurological disorder that appears from the age of 18 months. It can be seen in social, communication and repetitive behaviours.

How do you diagnose autism?


Autism may be diagnosed through medical check-ups, screening tools as well as activities that can assess the elements of play, communication and imitation.

How do you help children at IAC?


We help the children by establishing a routine for them, working with their parents to discuss what is best for them and providing step-by-step learning to manage their skills. We provide early intervention and therapy to improve child development in various domains such as attending, imitation, motor skills, receptive language, expressive language, self-help, academic skills and school readiness.

What kind of symptoms could alert a parent of the possibility that their child is affected by a form of Autism?

The symptoms that can be found in a child that could alert the parents are signs of poor eye contact, repetitive behaviour like repeating one’s speech, fixation on one’s activities and sensitivity towards light or sound, etc.

How do we define treatment?


There are two ways we could define treatment for autism – one being behavioural therapy and the other being communication therapy. Early intervention using either or both of these treatment options is compulsory.

In your opinion, how is autism perceived by today's society?

While people today are aware that children with autism exist among them, many are still uninformed about the developmental condition. The media has an important role in informing society about autism, that children with autism matter and that they have the potential to achieve great things within this world.

What are some medical developments concerning Autism that people should know about?


So far, developments in autism treatment can be found in medications that are currently being tested and may be available in the future. We hope to implement the usage of these medications to address the core symptoms or characteristics of children with autism.

How can we better educate the public at large about autism and how it affects children?

I believe that the best possible way to educate citizens of Malaysia is to promote the cause during Autism Awareness Month every April, during which we should highlight how and why these special needs children deserve more attention. While campaigning on mainstream media works, new digital media platforms must also be used to champion the cause and make the public realize that it is more important than ever to care for children with autism.

How has the partnership with Yayasan Sime Darby helped IAC?

The partnership between Yayasan Sime Darby (YSD) and IDEAS Autism Centre (IAC) has been long established and YSD has helped IAC for many years. YSD’s sponsorship for our early intervention programme for example, has changed so many lives for the better. The IAC team as well as the benefitting parents and children are all eternally grateful for this collaboration and support. We can’t wait to team up with YSD again in future projects.

What do you hope for the future of IDEAS Autism Centre?

My hope for IDEAS Autism Centre is for us to expand throughout Malaysia and secure a branch for each state. I also hope that we will have offices set up in key districts to provide ease of access for teachers and parents so that we may together provide quality education for all children with autism in Malaysia in the future.


INTERVIEW WITH MRS. ROSMINI RAZALEE (MOTHER OF MUHAMMAD IZDIHAR NURULIZUAN)

What was your reaction when your child was diagnosed with autism for the first time?

I felt overwhelmed with sadness when I found out that my son was diagnosed with autism, but I did not take much time to recover myself. I started to realise that I need to accept my feelings as a mother of a child with autism and do my best to raise him. I believe by being a kind and loving parent is the best way to care for my child since he is also undoubtedly doing his best under trying conditions.

How did you hear about IDEAS Autism Centre?

I heard about IAC from my friends and it was also suggested by Hospital Selayang. I then searched for more information about IAC on social media and contacted the Principal.

How has IDEAS Autism Centre helped you and our child so far?

My husband and I are beyond grateful for everything that IAC has done. Izdihar’s eye contact, for example, has improved tremendously. We are also very happy that he also improved his social skills, reading, writing, playing sports, and even dancing and singing.

What can be done to improve the education or learning system, especially in autism centres?

In my opinion, IAC itself is doing an exemplary job. I see a lot of impressive progress from Izdihar and I thank all the supportive teachers at IAC.

What kind of improvements have you seen that the IAC team has made over the years?

I have seen improvements in both their facilities and the educational materials used.

How has IDEAS Autism Centre changed you as a parent of a child with autism?

IAC’s mental health sessions as well as the multidisciplinary-team meeting between parents, teachers,
and therapists have helped me a lot. I have a better understanding of autism and how to monitor my child’s progress from time to time.

What are the circumstances you faced when teaching your child at home during lockdown or movement control order periods?

Izdihar is well-behaved when he is at the centre with the teachers but at home, he is a bit pampered and would sometimes get clingy. There is no doubt that the effects of the pandemic measures have changed his behaviour a bit, but we are hopeful of better days as things are looking up.

What was the biggest obstacle you have overcome in your child’s life?

The biggest obstacle would be behavioural changes when Izdihar is at home. I think this is common for every child with autism. When his routine is disrupted, he will behave differently. But as a mother, I always need to be ready to deal with these disruptions at any time.


INTERVIEW WITH MUHAMMAD IZDIHAR


What activities do you like the most at IAC?

Riding the bicycle, playing at the playground and studying.

What activities do you like the most at home during lockdown periods?

Playing badminton, watching television, and riding the bicycle in front of my house.

How has this pandemic affected your daily routine?

I cannot go out to play outside the house and go back to my hometown due to the interstate-travel
restriction.

When was the best time that you had at the centre?

The best time I had at the centre was when I could learn to dance, sing, study, and play football.


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Last Updated:
05 Apr 2021
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