Changing people’s perspective on autistic disorder

(from left) Awi, Feilina, Charlene, Taylor’s University director Philip Gan and local artist Sid Murshid at the Autism Awareness Campaign launch at Sunway Putra Mall.

AN autism awareness campaign was held to help people learn more about the disorder and provide support for those in the autism spectrum.

Seven final year Public Relations and Event Management students from Taylor’s University collaborated with the National Autism Society of Malaysia (Nasom) and Autism Behavioural Centre (ABC) for the campaign held at Sunway Putra Mall.

The objective was to give people accurate information on autism and change people’s perspective on the disorder and dispel myths.

Nasom chairman Feilina Feisol urged parents of children with autism to seek treatment for them at a very early age.

“Parents should be aware of their children’s early behaviour,” she said.

“If they find symptoms of autism, they should bring their child for early screening so that they can undergo treatment.”

In her speech at the launch, ABC director Charlene Marie Samuel said families of children with autism sometimes fail to recognise that their children are on the spectrum.

“Early intervention could make a big difference in the quality of the children’s lives,” she said.

“Children with autism who receive intervention and intensive therapy by the age of two to three have a higher chance to re-socialise successfully. “

Charlene also touched on the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers, Revised screening, which is done after the baby has had all vaccinations.

The screening can be done by professionals, teachers or even parents and is also available in government hospitals.

“If autistic children get the right support and are in an environment that they are accepted, there is an immense potential for them to thrive,” said Charlene.

ABC offered free autism screenings to the public during the campaign, while children had several fun activities such as colouring competition, clown balloon sculpture and face painting to keep them entertained.

There was also a sensory touch game for children, where they were exposed to sensory boards containing objects such as hinges, locks, velcro, zippers and lights that could help to stimulate their senses at their own pace.

One of the Taylor’s students, Dahlia Yasmin Sofea Aziz, 22, said the public could also learn first-hand what it was like to be autistic using virtual reality headsets.

“You have the opportunity to feel what an autistic child feels, and how it has an impact on their behaviour,” she said.

The campaign also featured performances by local artistes such as Awi Rafael, who promotes autism awareness through music, Sid Murshid, Amiera Atikah, Belle & Faiz, Amir Alif, Sarah Ann Tan and a Drum Circle workshop by Beatz2Movez.

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