PETALING JAYA: The sun had barely risen when Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin and his second son Timor were getting ready for a morning walk.
All around them, other parents were raising their children’s spirits with motivating words and promises of treats afterwards at the 2.8km-long The Rock Walk 2017.
Father, son and his other family members led the 200-strong group for the walk yesterday morning to raise awareness for autism and also funds for the National Autism Society of Malaysia (Nasom).
Raising Timor, who is autistic, means Khairy is keenly aware of parents’ concerns on how to empower them to live independently as adults.
“Early intervention for autistic children is a good move but it is not enough to ensure they are cared for. As a nation, we cannot call ourselves developed or progressive if we are unable to care for all our people,” he said in his speech after the walk.
Things are about to change for the better as Nasom and the ministry are discussing details for a pilot programme offering skills training to school leavers with autism.
“I have asked the National Youth Skills Institute to work with Nasom on structuring the programme, starting with those from the We Rock The Spectrum kids gym,” Khairy said.
The We Rock The Spectrum kids gym in Ara Damansara is an indoor play centre for children of all abilities, promoting learning development and sensory safe play.
Nasom president Datuk Megat Ahmad Shahrani Megat Shahrudin said the proposed pilot programme would help autistic youths be more self-sufficient.
“The lack of skills training, paired with the characteristics associated with autism, means they are unlikely to hold down jobs for long,” Megat Ahmad said.
Details of the pilot project have yet to be finalised, but Khairy has stressed that more discussions between the ministry and Nasom would follow.
“In essence, I have agreed that autistic youths who are capable and interested in any of the skills training offered at IKBN can enrol under a pilot programme designed to accommodate their needs,” said Khairy.