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By William Isau
SIBU, April 16: Around 70 children are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) every year in this district, said Sibu Autistic Association (SAA) president David Ngu.
Speaking during the launching of World Autism Awareness Day, Ngu said that these statistics show that ASD can be present everywhere.
“Unfortunately, parents cannot detect signs of ASD in children 90 per cent of the time. It would be too late, and the golden treatment period is often missed,” he said.
In line with this, Ngu said creating and promoting awareness of ASD among the community is essential to understand it better.
The event was launched by Minister of Women, Childhood and Community Wellbeing Development Dato Sri Fatimah Abdullah today.
As for the world figure, he said statistics have shown that one in every 160 children will have ASD.
“According to the National Autism Society of Malaysia (Nasom), one in 68 newborns or 9,000 babies are diagnosed with ASD every year,” he noted.
According to the Sarawak Welfare Department (JKM) report, the number of registered OKU (people with disabilities) is 15,547, with 2,584 having ASD.
However, he believed that there are still a lot of unregistered children with ASD.
“I urge every parent who has children with ASD to register them with JKMS so that the government can assist your children more effectively.
“Do not feel ashamed for letting people know your children’s condition. Our government is a loving and caring government and is willing to help,” he advised.
On SAA, he said it was established more than 20 years ago with three children with ASD and three trainers.
“Over the years, we have trained around 1,000 children in Sibu. Taking care of children with ASD is never easy, but SAA is here and willing to help through our specific programmes and qualified trainers,” he said.
SAA is now operating in a new building that can accommodate up to 200 children at one time.
Meanwhile, Fatimah hoped that society would be able to empathise with individuals with ASD and their families and reach out to them to extend their care, love, and understanding.
“On the other hand, parents and family members should learn to accept their children with ASD for who they are and bring them for proper treatment and training as soon as possible.
“They must understand that there is nothing to be ashamed of in bringing their children with ASD to mingle with society.
“What they need is understanding and acceptance to enable them to be a part of the society they live in,” she said. — DayakDaily