By Dayana Farzeeha Ali, Norulhuda Ismail
On April 2, 2019, the Persatuan Kanak-kanak Autistik Johor in collaboration with the Penawar Special Learning Center, Hospital Penawar organized the Johor Autism Congress at the JB Convention Center, Berjaya Waterfront Hotel, Johor Bahru. The program was held in conjunction with the worldwide Autism Celebration day celebrated every 2nd of April. The program was attended by about 1000 participants consisting of parents, teachers, academics, students as well as practitioners in the field of special education.
This program, with the theme ‘Commitment and Therapy’ explored the Zero Reject Policy in Malaysia by the Special Education Ministry for special needs students. The keynote was delivered by YBhg. Datuk Dr. Yasmin Binti Hussain, Director of the Special Education Division, Ministry of Education, Malaysia.
Several workshops were also prepared for participants such as Learning, Social and Autism, Autism and Education, Multi-Sensory Room: Therapy for Autism, Communication Disorder in Classroom and more. Two lecturers from the School of Education, Faculty of Social Science and Humanities were invited as speakers in the program. Ts. Dr. Dayana Farzeeha Ali and Dr. Muhammad Khair bin Noordin were invited to share in the Autism and Education as well as Multi-Sensory Room: Therapy for Autism workshops. Ts. Dr. Dayana emphasized on awareness to parents, teachers and the community about knowledge on autism, the educational options offered and the role of teachers, parents and the community in providing support to those with autism. While, Dr. Khair shared the benefits and uses of a multi-sensory room which is one of the alternative treatments.
To address the importance of community awareness, UTM under the Endowment Unit in collaboration with the Community Development and Education research group and the Penawar Special Learning Center has opened the Little Genius therapy and learning center at UTM which has been operating since January 2019 to provide treatment services and special education related training especially for autism.