Police autism centre wants to help to fight stigma

Showing the ropes: Titiwangsa Fire and Rescue personnels demonstrating how to use a fire extinguisher to a participant during the 2023 Autism Day celebration at Pulapol. —AZMAN GHANI/The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: The police force’s Pengaman Autism Centre could be one of the entities that people refer to for issues related to autism, says Tan Sri Hussin Ismail.

The Yayasan Pengaman Malay-sia deputy chairman said the centre, which opened in 2020, can provide the police with the latest information and statistics to strengthen its standard operating procedures (SOP) so the rights of those with autism are preserved.

“Society does not fully understand autism, so it is important to create more awareness about the matter,” said Hussin, who is also the centre’s management committee chairman.

Autism can be hard to identify physically, only manifesting itself via “a social communication and interaction deficit” as well as repetitive actions, he added.

“The centre aims to continuously assist not only children of police personnel but the general public too,” he said in his speech before launching the Pengaman-PDRM Autism Day with the theme “Let’s Be Safe” at the centre located at the Police Training Centre (Pulapol) here yesterday.

Hussin said he hoped the programme would reach its objective of educating children to be more vigilant about their personal safety and surroundings.

“I also hope the activities conducted during the programme will encourage the agencies involved to be more attentive to the autism community,” he said.

A total of 138 individuals, including parents and children, took part in the programme.

Yayasan Pengaman general manager Azura Izham said Autism Day was actually celebrated every April 2.

“However, we decided to do it today as April 2 was during Ramadan.

“The celebration is quite special as we are cooperating with three agencies – the Armed Forces’ Military Hospital, the police, and the Fire and Rescue Department,” she said.

Azura said the autism centre was mainly established to provide early education and intervention for children with autism.

“We also aim to create more awareness among the police and society about community inclusion and accepting children with autism without discrimination,” she added.

Azura said various inclusive programmes such as providing education and job opportunities will allow those with autism to gain experience and learn to live in society.

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