Bridging the autism divide through communication


Sharing the knowledge: Ruth (right) explaining about autism to students (from left) Senthamarai, Nur Adibah and Ravi Menon at her academy in Klang.

KLANG: Nur Adibah Mohd Sayuti had no idea what autism was until her 30-month-old daughter started showing radical behavioural changes five years ago.

While she went through many difficulties in trying to understand her daughter’s condition, her husband walked out on her and filed a divorce.

This only made Nur Adibah stronger.

Today, she is equipped with the necessary knowledge to care for her autistic daughter, now seven.

The single mother mentors her 90-year-old mother and friends, sharing what she learned about autistic children including understanding their world, to communicate with them effectively.

“I wouldn’t have been able to go through it all without family support.

“At first, my heart felt so heavy but deep inside, I knew I must find a way to help my daughter.

“Now that I have the know-how, I want to share with other parents, who are facing similar situations,” said Nur Adibah, whose daughter has Asperger’s – a communication disorder in autism.

The web analyst recalled her life-changing moment when she posted a video of her daughter putting broccoli into a shopping bag at the grocery store, with autism related hashtags, last year.

Ruth S. Arunasalam, who founded an academy to help people communicate and deal with autistic children, saw the video and reached out to Nur Adibah, 36.

“It was a relief as she understood how hard it is for me to connect with my daughter. She was also kind enough to sponsor half the course fees.

“So it’s important to share what I’ve learned with others, who are lost and in need of help,” Nur Adibah said.

Her determination was shared by housewife Senthamarai Poosari, 39, who is now coaching two autistic children and their parents.

“Every autistic child is different, has different needs and responds differently,” she said.

Ruth said about 70 students, who were mainly parents, teachers and caregivers, were taught how to deal with autistic children since her academy was set up two years ago.

She had also sponsored 50% of them, who were from poor backgrounds.

“My training modules aim to empower parents, especially the B40 group, who face many challenges with autistic children,” she said.A lawyer by training, the mother of two discovered her interest to help those with autism when she was collecting data as part of the coursework for her Masters in English as a Second Language more than 10 years ago.

Ruth said her students were taught to use various resources to teach a child to verbalise themselves.

“My students have been urging me to reach out to a wider segment of people.

“We are now embarking on a project with the Education Ministry’s Education Performance and Delivery Unit to train teachers,” she said.


   

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