“Moving forward” – Kuching Autistic Association
Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) can be summarised as a group of neurodevelopmental disorders. It is characterised by deficits in social communication, repetitive behaviour and interest. Training those with autism is a monumental challenge.
Kuching Autistic Association was set up by concerned parents; it has since expanded to a full-fledged training centre. Currently, there are over 90 students. The training centre provides one-to-one therapy and caters for the diverse needs of each student. Specially trained teachers are required for that arduous task.
The senior students (fourteen and above) come with the Adult and Adolescence Programme (AAP). The focus is on skills building towards taking care of themselves and optimising their abilities.
Presently there are twenty-three students under AAP, out of which only four do not require constant supervision. Most of the AAP students have limited mobility and fine motor function. They are non-verbal which lead to occasional tantrums. Poor concentration adds to their many handicaps. This group of students require close guidance by teachers. Patience, passion and dedication are part and parcel of special skills for these teachers.
Arts and craft are activities which stimulate the students and keep them engaged. KAA constantly create opportunities for them to express their emotions and feelings which ultimately instil independence.
Since 2015 the students are active with stringing beautiful necklaces. There is a demand and apart from being a source of income the confidence and morale of the students get a huge boost. This is but a leap forward for the students.
Support from the public and corporate bodies have been encouraging. Sarawak theme beads and necklaces for conferences, meetings and functions are produced currently (see display).
It is the dream of KAA to have a curio shop. Some place to showcase and parade the students’ labour of love. Moving forward we definitely are – a step at a time and in tempo with our Autistic students.