Autism acceptance hard to find in Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur – Families with autism are getting the cold shoulder as support for the learning difference is slow to arrive. In addition to the high cost of autism therapies (RM5,000-RM8,000 a month), some autism consultancies have been evicted from wealthy neighborhoods such as Cheras.

Zoya Lleana told Malay Mail Online,

“It’s not that they don’t understand… but it’s a matter of whether I want to live in an area where I see these people, it’s a matter of choice. It’s a matter of stature.”

Lleana is a mother of three whose youngest child, age 8, was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. Even though families like hers receive RM20,000 in financial aid, it’s not enough. Lleana and her husband both have to work long hours to afford the therapies their son sorely needs, Lleana often forgoing surprising her son which she needs to do. She adds,

“I have to plan things in a controlled environment and slowly at his pace, and when he is read he will do it on his own.” 

Charlene Marie Samuel who ran the recently evicted consultancy agreed with Lleana that Malaysian society is far from acceptance. She told Malay Mail Online, adding that many on the spectrum are ostracized for being different.

“I mostly feel that there is a lack of acceptance of children and people in the spectrum generally.” 

Lleana also noted that there is dire need for teachers who have been trained to recognize, know how to handle, and teach students on the spectrum. The Health Ministry has heard these concerns and plans to allay them by expanding their early intervention program managed by a multidisciplinary team (MDT). This will add 141 MDT’s to the already existing 3,213 that help people with autism.

Contributed by Audrey L. Hollingshead.

Source: Tap Tzu Ging on the Malay Mail Online website: From autism row, a tale of a mother’s lonely toil