Since 2007, World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD) is observed annually on 2nd April and subsequently, April has been marked as the month to spread awareness about Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
Organizations in Brunei such as SMARTER and various schools have created events to educate the public on ASD. Rising Star Child Development School is one of the schools that organised an event in conjunction with WAAD.
With the theme ‘We all fit together’, the school aims to include children diagnosed with autism together with the others in order to avoid the feeling of not fitting in within the space of a classroom.
The school had put together activities that were in line with this year’s theme, comprising of an Autism Awareness Corner, an art installation called ‘We All Fit Together’ done with puzzle pieces, an Autism Awareness photo booth, and Young Athletes Obstacles Course in collaboration with Special Olympics Brunei Darussalam volunteers.
Speaking to Noorashikin Samin, an Occupational Therapist at Rising Star Child Development School, we managed to get an insight into the programmes introduced at the school as well as the event.
“Our school promotes inclusion among students with autism through an intrusive programme, and also a special education class for children with autism along with activities to help the students’ motor and social skills – all to help the transition for special needs children to a normal classroom situation,” said Noorashikin.
In an extension to their objective, the school created the event to help parents and the public be more aware of ASD. “We want the society to accept people with autism as part of the community – some people or parents can be in denial and does not know what to do, so with this kind of event, we can encourage people especially parents to come forward and get help for their children,” she added.
For Noorashikin, autism has become a norm and said that they need to be supported with love and care to enable them to feel included in a community.
During the event, Special Olympics Brunei Darussalam (SOBD) volunteers from Universiti Brunei Darussalam held the Young Athlete Obstacles Course, which targets to help the students motor skills. In an extension from their weekly program, SOBD created an obstacle course that triggers the use of motor skills such as crawling, running and kicking.
We spoke to Abdul Azim Haji Zulkifli, a volunteer for SOBD’s Young Athlete Obstacle Course. “The obstacle course is also part of autism awareness activities whereby we do not want to make the special needs students feel as if they are not a part of the group – they are still kids and they want to play or run around like any typical kids,” said Abdul Azim.
The event managed to attract more than 100 people in raising awareness about Autism. What the people that are affected by Autism need is the support, care, and love from society. Hopefully with more awareness about ASD, in the future people would start to lend a hand in supporting those with autism.