By Jood Hawatmeh
It was a real experience for all of us to have visited Letzhop Autism Centre in Selayang, Selangor, for group research. The date was 14 November 2014. We arrived at the place around 9.00 a.m.
The principal of the centre is Mr. Mohd Fakhri Nor Affandi while the manager is Mrs. Zilfalilah Abd Halim and they both are husband and wife.
Alhamdulillah, we benefited from the visit and we managed to interview Mr. Fakhri for some inputs on his experience in running the autism centre. The interview was a new experience to us. We were very excited and inspired by Mr.Mohd Fakhri, the founder of the centre.
During the visit, we learned what autism is all about and there were many things we never knew before about autism. We also observed the behaviors of the children: some of them made no eye contact, some sat in the corners, some didn’t like to be touched or even didn’t like to be smiled at. They looked socially awkward and acted as though they lived in their own bubble. But when we approached them slowly, some of them could get along well with us.
Fakhri told us he was inspired to open an autism centre after he knew that his first son has been diagnosed with autism. After he and his wife knew that his son has autism, they took an initiative to find out about autism through extensive reading, meeting with the experts, and so on. Eventually, they decided to set up an autism centre to help those children with autism who are just like their son.
The visit made us think that in life, there are always challenges that we need to face. Everyone has his or her own struggle to work on.
The main objective of the establishment of the centre, according to Fakhri, was not intended to make profit but to help needy families who have children with autism. He admitted that most autism centres cost a lot of money to be paid as the monthly fees. However, in the autism centre he built, parents need to pay only a small amount of fees. Thus, the needy family could afford to send their children for an appropriate learning process.
In the centre, some interventions are applied to the child such as occupational therapy and speech therapy. Besides that, they are also exposed to the outside world by going to the playground, swimming centre, zoo, and so on. By doing that, they could develop social skills.
According to Fakhri, he definitely thinks that what he is doing is counted as an ibadah. He serves wholeheartedly to ensure children with autism lead a normal life too and most importantly, he does it in the name of Allah.
He added that he was always trying his best to get funds from many organisations to support the centre financially by doing activities like fund raising, public awareness programmes and so on.
“Letzhop Autism Centre has taught us hope and enlightened us to a new perspective. All we can say is we are thankful to what we are. The centre has motivated us to work on autism for my future and join in many funds to help them in any way possible,” Fakhri said.
Overall, we absolutely enjoyed the visit and felt so happy to be able to see those innocent children. We hope that the visit was not the first and the last. We would continue to get in touch with the centre. In fact, if there is any programme that requires volunteers, and Mr. Fakhri would like to invite us, we would willingly be volunteers too if we have free time, Insha Allah. ***
Photo taken from The Huffington Post