NASOM – The National Autism Society of Malaysia
Nasom was established back in 1987, as non-profitable charitable organization to provide support services to help our autism children and immediate families who are living in Malaysia. I would like to take this opportunity to instill awareness of autism, the role and importance of NASOM in Malaysia and what we can do to contribute as public residents.
Introduction – Hope for the children with autism
In case you do not know about Nasom. Let me introduce the support and services they provide to the children and the people with autism.
Their core objective is to provide services to people with Autism through program which are designed and emphasized on acquisition of skills and changes in behavior. The program are listed below:
- Vocational program – Nasom provides teaching skills in baking, food preparation, laundry, housekeeping services, sewing, handicraft and data entry services.
- Residential program – Nasom provides a residential program for people with autism and opportunity to live independently in a community setting.
- Early Intervention program – This is a highly individualized program for children with autism up to age 13. They will be taught self -help skills, elementary academic & learning skills, and effective communication skills.
- Mainstreaming program – Nasom provides teacher aides who help children with autism to assimilate into academic and school activities.
- Pre vocational program – Nasom provides vocational training to children with Autism above 14 years of age who are not enrolled into a formal school.
- Assessment and diagnosis – Nasom provides screening and diagnosis, assessment and evaluation, consultation and counseling and information and referrals related to autism.
- Therapy program – Nasom provides therapy such as speech, behavioral, educational, occupational and sensory program.
- Transition program – This program is specially designed to prepare the children with Autism for formal school. They will be taught basic academic skills, group learning and other necessary skills for entering formal school.
Nasom has 13 board members and supported by more than 150 staff members inclusive of qualify teachers. It has established 20 centers in the whole Malaysia to provide the support and services to all the children with autism and their immediate families.
What is Autism
A child can be diagnosed as early as 18 months old, but most parent can only detect the symptoms in the age of 2 – 6. Autism is a lifelong disease and thus far no medical cure for it. It is known as neurodevelopmental disorder disease and it affects the development of the brain and impacts on an individual’s ability to communicate, socially interaction and learn skills like a typical child of the same age.
Parents usually see the symptoms in terms of deficit in communication and interaction, restricted and repetitive behaviors. Here are some examples of children with autism:
- absence of speech or delay in speech development.
- loss of language skill at any age
- do not respond when the name is called
- unusual speech (repeating sentences or making strange sounds)
- do not imitate adult’s movement
- avoid eye contact
- do not show interest in other children
- do not share interest with adults and may not look at objects when you point to them
- repetitive behavior (body movement like flapping or rocking)
- do not scare of danger
- over sensitive / under sensitive to sensory area
- strong attachment or preoccupy with certain objects or interest
- some may have aggressive or self injurious behavior
if you found these symptoms in your children, send them to qualified medical professionals for assessment and diagnosis. Treatment can be done if the symptoms is detected as early as 18 months old. Here are some example of behavior which you need to be alert when your child reach 12 months old and onward:
- no babbling and cooing by 12 months
- no gesture such as finger pointing, waving, grasping by 12 months
- no single words by 16 months
- no 2 word phases by 24 months
Early identification is the best. The brain is still developing and more malleable at very young age. A child’s brain has higher potential to adapt, change and learn faster than adult. Early treatment can close the gap shorter in terms of development of the same age children.
Statistic of children with autism
1 in 68 newborns is diagnosed as children with autism and boys are 4 times more likely to have autism than girl. Approximately 9000 children in Malaysia are born with autism every year. It can be foreseen that in a few short years, kids with autism will be looking at autism intervention programs and it is likely to increase every year. This will be a big challenge for education authorities to meet the needs of the growing group of Malaysian with autism.
In recent year, Nasom has seen a 30% increase in the number of people with autism seeking its services. Meeting the service needs of all groups from all background requires resources. Nasom has the intention to do more especially in the remote and under-served districts in Malaysia but the resources are limited.
What public can do to contribute
Become volunteer – hand on experience supporting individuals with autism. Nasom need volunteer support to ensure the highest quality of their program, activity and events. If you have times, talent or expertise, join Nasom’s volunteer services. It is fun.
Corporate sponsorship – some businesses do have annual event such as CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) program. The employees shall be able to foster good relationship with the management staff in participation of CSR and the fund raised can be donated to Nasom.
Fund raising / donations – please check out www.nasom.org.my for the donation. There are some bank details and donation form to be filled.
Spread the word – this is exactly what I am doing! I write a post and spread it out to my readers. I hope with little strength that I have I will be able to help them up with resources.
Please kindly help Nasom to increase their resources to help more children and people of autism. These group of people shall deserve the required treatment program to equip them skills to be able to live in the community like us. Little contribution may not affect our life but it is such a valuable gift to see they get to the required treatment and skills.
Nasom – The National Autism Society of Malaysia.
Hope for the children with autism