Historic first AGM in SUPPORT of parents with special needs children

By Maghrib Razak and Athira ABD Latiff

GOMBAK, 10 September 2023: The Support Association for Parents of Special Needs Children (SUPPORT) also known as Persatuan Sokongan Ibu Bapa Anak-Anak Istimewa, highlighted during its first Annual Grand Meeting (AGM) last Friday (September 8) the importance of the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) in assisting the university’s staff who are parents with special needs children.

SUPPORT provides a common platform (WhatsApp group) for parents to communicate their hardships whilst caring for their special needs children as they carry out their full-time commitment as an academic and administrative staff.

In an interview with IIUMToday, SUPPORT’s Advisor, IIUM Deputy Rector (Office of Student Development and Community Engagement), Prof. Dr. Akmal Khuzairy bin Abdul Rahman shared that the purpose of having the common platform is to create a constellation between parents as academic and administrative staff of the IIUM.

“We want to create a bond between members of staff and as special parents so that we could share each other’s issues and to leverage the benefits provided by the university,” he added.

SUPPORT’s Chairman, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Aida binti Mokhtar also shared that the university’s support to staff who are parents of special needs children is crucial.

“Sometimes the university’s approval of staff being away from work to send our children to therapies is not because we do not want to work but because we also have to carry out other responsibilities that involve our special needs children which requires a lot of energy and time,” she said.

“My son can’t drive so I have to be physically there to send him, and I would often bring my laptop to do my work as it doesn’t mean that we stop working when we ask be away from the office – but we are asking for time to send our children while also doing our work online,” she emphasised.

Both Prof. Dr. Akmal and Assoc. Prof. Dr. Aida shared that SUPPORT is to produce an upcoming book on the experiences parents with special needs children have been facing during the COVID pandemic, epidemic times and in the new norm.

“We hope that with SUPPORT, parents can learn from one another whilst being reminded that they are not alone in this journey of parenthood and as academics and admin staff,” Prof. Dr. Akmal emphasised.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Aida added that, “Awareness programmes will be discussed in the upcoming first SUPPORT meeting for the new session, and I expect that we will have events and awareness messages conveyed through posters and emails that will be sent to SUPPORT members and the society at large.”

In her concluding remarks, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Aida hopes to have SUPPORT endorsed at the university’s top management meeting chaired by IIUM Rector, Professor Emeritus Tan Sri Dato’ Dzulkifli bin Abdul Razak. The IIUM Rector has been supportive of the parents and even asked how the IIUM could help them in a meeting with them including herself, she mentioned.

Details of SUPPORT’s Committee are:

Advisor: Prof. Dr. Akmal Khuzairy Bin Abd. Rahman, Deputy Rector (Office of the Deputy Rector – Student Development & Community Engagement)

Chairman: Assoc. Prof. Dr. Aida Binti Mokhtar (Department of Communication, AHAS KIRKHS)
Deputy Chairman: Dr. Tanja Jonid (Department of English Language and Literature, AHAS KIRKHS)
Secretary: Dr. Hasmawati Bt. Antong (Department of Mechatronics Engineering, KOE)
Assistant Secretary: Br. Mohd. Rashdan Bin Baba (IIUM Library)
Treasurer: Dr. Azizan Binti Che Embi (Department of Finance, KENMS)
AJK: Dr. Wan Rohaida Wan Husain (Department of Business Admin, KENMS)
AJK: Sr. Nurazlina Binti Afandi (OSEM)

The newly appointed AJKS in our AGM recently are:

Prof. Dr. Yumi Zuhanis Has-Yun Bt. Hashim (INHART)
Prof. Dr. Ma’an Fahmi Rashid Al-Khatib (Department of Biotech Engineering, KOE)
Dr. Suriani Bt. Sulaiman (Department of Computer Science, KICT)
Dr. Shuhaili Bt Talib (Department of Information Systems, KICT)

The AGM for SUPPORT was held at the Conference Room, Office of Deputy Rector (Student Development and Community Engagement), Muhammad Abdul Rauf Building, International Islamic University Malaysia Gombak Campus, and was attended by seven pro-tem committee members and IIUM staff who are parents of special needs children as appointments for the new line-up and other matters were proposed, deliberated and confirmed. ***