By Amanina Syazana binti Abdul Rahim and Muhammad Affan bin Abu Bakar
The increasing number of autistic children in Malaysia is one of the reasons why it is important for the community to know how to properly raise a child with autism, Nori Abdullah Badawi said.
A working mother of three and a mother to an autistic son, Nori Abdullah Badawi, was invited as a guest to share her experience and knowledge in raising a child with autism.
Nori Abdullah Badawi who is wife of Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Khairy Jamaluddin, is also one of the owners of “We Rock The Spectrum” in Bangsar where the place was built for kids with different abilities.
Asked on the reason why she built this space, she said, “The focused recently is to help a few families (43) with the total number of 50 autistic children from the B40 families, with the help of Yayasan Hasanah and a grant from the government, we have been able to do a programme called ‘Therapy with Play’ of which the main aim is to support the family to develop their children’s skills and confidence level.”
During this pandemic, parents are the ones who are going to be the teacher for their children at home. It is very challenging when parents need to be the therapists for their children at home.
She shared: “Having a cat at home as a pet is good for children with autism because it is one of the therapy for them which is known as hypnotherapy where it is good for them to control their level of depression, anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder.”
Having a collaboration with the therapists is one of the ways on how the speaker managed to educate parents out there to handle their children at home especially during this pandemic period.
Nori added, “Both of us, me and Khairy believe that education is important and a big responsibility for us to educate our children even if one of them has different abilities. Getting ourselves prepared with knowledge on how to manage these kinds of children is very important for us.”
By knowing that they are also human beings with unique abilities, parents need to know their children very well to raise them. By having a deeper understanding of the children, parents surely can manage to raise the children. It may be difficult, but it could also be “a blessing in disguise” to have them around, Nori said.
Nori also highlighted that the different abilities of an autistic child could be worked on as their strength to build confidence and self-esteem. This is very important for every parent to take care of their special kid as it could bring peace not only to parents, but also to their children.
She also shared her thoughts that she was trying her best to juggle her life of being a mother with an autistic child and a public figure. She continued that “things may be hard, and that we could not do it alone, hence, we need support,” mentioning those whom she has worked with (43 families).
Having a child that has difficulties in expressing themselves, parents need to be observant and look out for what makes them happy and interests them. Knowing that the children are different, parents should not be so unnecessarily protective of them, instead give them the opportunities to be exposed to what they want to see and try, since it is not impossible for them despite the differences. This is one of the ways to build the children’s strength, Nori added.
She urged listeners that bringing awareness to people about autism is just a beginning to try to understand them, and that we should do more acceptance and appreciation to recognise that it is a benefit to everyone that there are people who are different, living in the same society with us.
It is not only about being kind or compassionate, but the diversity in our society brings different things and support to people who have different abilities to make them feel that they are accepted for being who they are so they are also able to live comfortably within the society, Nori concluded.
The webinar was hosted by Anne Subashini Sivanathan, the Honorary Secretary of National Autism Society of Malaysia (NASOM) on the topic of “Raising a Child with Autism”. ***