Sabah Minister hopes workshop can help parents of children with special needs

James (third from left) visiting the exhibition booths during the event.

KOTA KINABALU: Parents of children with special needs learned ways to cope and overcome the challenges of taking care of their children during a workshop here on Saturday (March 4).

Sabah Community Development and People’s Well-being Minister Datuk James Ratib empathised with parents who fell into the category, adding such a task could become more difficult if parents were not fully prepared.

“Being a parent raising and educating a child with special needs is certainly not easy,” he said before launching the state-level “Parenting Workshop Tour: Handling Children with Special Needs” at a hotel here.

“It is a task full of joys and sorrows, filled with various challenges and obstacles.

“Some of these special children have emotional and behavioral disorders that are more difficult to control, and may be difficult to be accepted and understood by the surrounding community,” he added.

Hence, James hoped the programme could help parents and guardians learn the guidelines that can deal with the emotional and behavioral problems of children with special needs.

The workshop was one of the programmes under the Ministry’s children’s social programme grant through the Sabah Community Services Council.

He said the workshop was carried out by the Child Intervention and Enrichment Unit (or Child Intervention and Enrichment Centre) of Bukit Padang Mesra Hospital.

Several charitable voluntary organisations also collaborated in the programme namely the Sabah Psychiatric Welfare Organisation (BKPS), the Sabah C.H.I.L.D. Association and the Sabah Mental Health Association.

“Congratulations to all the members of the organising committee and the participants for their commitment and cooperation in making this workshop a success, which was held for the first time at the state level,” James said.

Besides the state capital, he added, the programme will also be held in the east coast Sandakan district on March 11, followed by Tawau on March 18 and finally in Keningau on May 13.

He said that children with special needs include those with disabilities whether on their vision, hearing, speech, learning, behaviour or physical disability, among others.

“Most of the children were found to be autistic, have ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), dyslexia or Down syndrome,” he said.

Towards this end, James said the well-being of children with special needs was one of the main issues being given attention by his Ministry as well as the federal Health Ministry.

According to the 2020 Special Education data, he said, there was an increase in the number of students with special needs from 2016 to 2020.

Apart from education, he added, other services offered include prevention, early detection of disabilities, treatment and rehabilitation.

“The government has also expanded services at health clinics and strengthened collaboration networks with private agencies and non-governmental organisations in terms of education, health, rehabilitation and protection,” he said.

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