The number of children diagnosed with autism, a complex neuro-developmental disorder, in the country is on the rise. While there is no known cure, it is proven that early intervention, from as young as one and a half years old, is extremely important in helping these children to be functionally independent.
As such, Ipoh-based Autism Asperger’s Help Association (A.A.H.A.) has once again taken the step in creating public awareness on autism, and at the same time, tried to reduce the stigma and prejudice associated with the disorder.
In conjunction with World Autism Awareness Month in April, A.A.H.A. is organising the second Walk Now For Autism on Sunday, April 14. The 5-km route starts from Ipoh’s Red Crescent Hall.
This charity event is not only aimed at creating awareness but also to raise funds to upkeep the association’s Early Intervention Programme (EIP) centre in Ipoh Garden East and to start the much-needed Pre-Academic Class for autistic children in Ipoh.
These classes are somewhat like kindergarten except that they do not follow the kindergarten syllabus. The classes are targeted at the weaknesses of each child, with the hope that they could then be integrated into mainstream schools.
Training for teachers and those interested to work with special needs children are also in the pipeline. Future plans of the association are to set up a proper support group for parents of autistic children, and the establishment of relief care services, that would enable families affected by autism to have a more balanced family life.
Besides the walk, there will be a “Little Giant Fair” where companies that deal in products like books and toys for special needs children are invited to participate for the convenience of parents who may find difficulty in procuring these products in Ipoh. An exhibition area will be available where posters regarding autism will be put up. Related NGOs and associations will provide information on resources available in the city. Other programmes lined up for that day will include short talks and networking opportunities offering counselling and support to families.
The association hopes to raise RM100,000 from this charity walk and exhibition. Funds raised during the first walk in 2011, totalling approximately RM25,000, went towards the setting up of the EIP centre. The centre now has 17 children under the care of four experienced teachers.
To participate in Walk Now For Autism 2013 call A.A.H.A. at 012-592 6800 (Mrs Cherlyn Foo) or 019‑558 2633 (Mrs Emily Gik). Registration fee is RM20 for adults, RM15 for college students and RM10 for school children and special needs children. Participants will receive a free T-shirt.