Parenting autistic children has been highlighted in the media often enough. Raising awareness has become important to Malaysians, especially those in the Klang Valley. However, many parents who are raising children on the autism spectrum also worry about their children’s future and employment.
Mindful of these concerns, a Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) student together with Pantai Hospital Kuala Lumpur recently organised Project Haans for Autism Awareness.
The event consisted of forums related to autism as well as job coaching and inclusion. Additionally, there was also a messy play demonstration by occupational therapists.
Event organiser and UKM Post Graduate Student from the Faculty of Education, Desiree Kaur said, “Autism is a spectrum that manifests differently in each individual. The UKM Faculty of Education (Special Education) course titled Collaboration and Consultation in Education, requires students to carry out a collaborative event with inclusive elements. Hence, the main purpose of this event is to collaborate with partners as well as provide a platform to share different perspectives for wider autism awareness and understanding. I am also a mother to a boy with autism and I hope Project Haans can be a guiding light or starting point for others out there who may be struggling for information.”
Amongst the forum speakers were Nori Abdullah, Co-Founder of We Rock the Spectrum Ara Damansara, who is a mother to a boy with autism; and Mohd Adli Yahya, Founder of Autism Café Project Malaysia, father to Luqman, a young man with autism. They shared their journey as parents, the joys of parenting a special child and the challenges they face daily.
Assoc Prof Dr Manisah Mohd Ali, a UKM lecturer whose area of study is Special Education, also shed light on the importance of inclusion from a young age, which could later help them in gaining employment. Mazayu Kasan who is a qualified Job Coach, shared her role in helping youth with autism and other special needs, gain employment. Panellist Joshua Teow, who has autism and is presently working, shared his experiences.
Another highlight of Project Haans was the bazaar organised by Autism Café Project, a social enterprise that helps youths with autism start their own small business.
Project Haans for Autism Awareness brought together various individuals; all of whom are passionate about raising awareness on autism. The organiser plans to hold the event annually in conjunction with Autism Awareness month in April.