[Feature Article] The Star Newspaper: Treating Autistic With Love, Hope

On the 9th of April, The Star featured an article on EAP Malaysia's World Autism Awareness Day event held on the 2nd of April.

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Treating Autistic With Love, Hope

Published in: The Star Newspaper

Published on: 9th April 2016

Over 100 turn up to celebrate World Autism Awareness Day in Cheras

THE Early Autism Project Malaysia (EAP), an Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) service provider for individuals with autism, recently celebrated World Autism Awareness Day 2016 in UCSI Cheras campus with more than 100 people coming together for the event.

World Autism Awareness Day is celebrated to increase community awareness on individuals, especially children, with autism.

This year's theme at EAP were the hashtags #lovesomeonewithautism and #welcometohope aimed at celebrating hope for families affected by autism and advocating acceptance for individuals with autism.

Autism affects 1% of the world's population and according to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in the US, one in 68 children is born autistic.

EAP Malaysia programme director Jochebed Isaacs said, "This year, we wanted to celebrate the achievements, small and large, of individuals with autism and give hope to the many families affected by autism. Intensive behavioural treatment is still critical in ensuring the best future for your child. We also want to advocate and create a society that includes and accepts people with autism. To do this, we need to first be open to understanding what it is like for a child with autism and also a child who transitions into adulthood with autism. Adults with autism face discrimination that comes from a lack of understanding about the condition. The tolerance that is extended to children with autism is often lacking, and we hope that we can begin to create a philosophy of inclusion and acceptance."

EAP, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, focused initiatives on producing social media awareness videos as well as education with schools and universities to begin inculcating a sense of tolerance and acceptance into the community.

EAP also reached out to the greater community through information booths in Gleneagles KL and Pantai Hospital KL last month.

At the launch the event, a young boy with autism, together with event participants, released blue balloons in the air to symbolise hope.

Blue is recognised internationally as a colour synonymous with autism.

Activities included a dialogue with parents of children with autism, hosted by Miss Malaysia Universe 2011 Deborah Henry and cohosted by an 11-year-old boy with autism.

Parents shared their journey and stories of how they coped with their child's diagnosis and how the progress made by their children gave them hope.

The event was made more memorable as UCSI Cheras sponsored a wall at its campus to host Malaysia's first Paint for Autism project.

Thirty five pieces of canvas were painted by event participants and pieced together like a jigsaw to reveal an artwork with the words "The vastness of this universe can't stop a child from shining ever so brightly like a star".

Visiting US-based clinical psychologist Dr Nan Huai from the EAP Wisconsin shared the latest findings on autism and emphasised the importance of evidence-based treatment.

She also highlighted recommended websites and journals for parents and members of the community to refer to.

More than 80 UCSI students from UCSI, mainly from the Psychology Department, volunteered their time to facilitate the day's event.

The department also presented different forms of expressive arts therapy as a form of stress management.