by: Dayana Farzeeha Ali and Marlissa Omar
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) societal awareness is increasing due to the efforts of various organizations. Previously, there is a lack of knowledge of the symptoms of ASD among parents and teachers. Some children are left undiagnosed due to the lack of awareness and knowledge among parents and teachers. However, societies are more aware of the importance of knowledge on ASD with the increase in the awareness campaign run by various organizations. The rise of awareness on ASD allows parents and teachers to make early diagnoses on any developmental impairments on the children.
Recently, Community Development and Education (CDE) research group from School of Education, Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) has organized an “Autism Workshop: Understand, Identify and Teach” in Kolej Tuanku Canselor, UTM. The workshop was organized in series in which three series have been held in March, June, and August. The workshop was open to the public, which attracted almost 300 participants consisting of pre-school teachers, primary school teachers, parents and occupational therapist around Johor. The workshop also received international participants from Indonesia and Singapore.
Dr. Dayana Farzeeha Ali, the Director of the workshop series said, “it is important to educate parents, teachers and societies regarding the symptoms of ASD, how to handle the autistic children and what kind of therapy can parents and teachers do at home or school.”
Since children diagnosed with ASD usually attend the therapy session with the occupational therapist only once a week, parents and teachers need to educate themselves with this knowledge. She said this knowledge would make it easier for parents and teachers to deal with children with autism at home or school.
Most of the participants were glad that UTM organized this workshop, which allowed them to learn more about ASD and interacted with the expers in this field. Apart from learning about ASD, parents and teachers who attended the workshop also shared their concerns about their experience having and dealing with autistic children. All the participants said it is hoped that more workshop focusing on hands-on methods to handle children with autism is to be held in the future towards nurturing an inclusive society.