Malaysia – Non-governmental organisations for children with disabilities

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Doing more for disabilities

By Zulita Mustafa – 27 June 2016
Ahmad Iyad Ghazi (centre) taking part in a classroom activity.

Ahmad Iyad Ghazi (centre) taking part in a classroom activity.

IF you are a parent of a child with special needs, you are definitely in need of support.

There may be days where you feel all alone in your struggle, that you have not had the opportunity to seek encouragement from those who have gone through similar roads.

There are many amazing non-governmental organisations in Malaysia working hard to make a change by providing services to, or advocating on behalf of, children with disabilities.

The Malaysian Partnership on Children with Disabilities was set up in 2014 which includes non-governmental organisations, activists, parents and Unicef Malaysia, to support and unite the work that is being done all over the country.

One of them is Kiwanis Down Syndrome Foundation (KDSF) National Centre in Petaling Jaya, which is a non-profit organisation dedicated to helping children with Down syndrome from 2 months to 6 years old.

Since its formation in 1989, close to a thousand children with Down syndrome have graduated from the special education programme offered by the centre.

According to KDSF Parents Support Group president Dr Asrul Abdul Wahab, children with Down syndrome almost always have some degree of intellectual disability.

“They learn more slowly and have difficulties with complex reasoning and judgment. The degree of intellectual impairment, however, varies tremendously. There is no ‘cure’ for Down syndrome but there is much that can be done to help someone with the condition lead a healthy, active and more independent life.”

At KDSF National Centre, the children go through three main stages of learning — Infant Stimulation Programme (ISP) for infants from 2 months to 2 years old; Toddler Programme (TOD) for toddlers from 2 to 4 years old; and Special Education Programme (SEP) for children from 4 to 6 years old.

“Each stage has its own objectives. The ISP helps to strengthen the infant physically through physiotherapy and occupational therapy so that he or she can achieve his or her early developmental goals like crawling or walking.

“TOD emphasises on other skills development such as early language, pre-academic activities in an environment of fun and play while SEP continues to refine the children’s skills in pre-academic and language,” said Dr Asrul.

With his own third child Ahmad Iyad Ghazi, who was diagnosed Down syndrome at birth almost four years ago, Dr Asrul started searching for a facility that offers early intervention programmes (EIP) .

“We came across KDSF National Centre with the help of a friend who works there.

“Ahmad Iyad started attending EIP since he was 2 months old and he has progressed every week and we are delighted with his developmental milestones (although with slight delay), he managed to catch up with his peers and benefited from the programme.

“He is now attending the SEP four times a week for three hours a day, and is building up on his literacy and pre-writing skills as well as independency, social and self-help skills.

“The tremendous support given by the therapists, teachers, the supporting staff and the Parents Support Group helps boost our confidence and keeps up our positive spirit in raising Ahmad Iyad,” Dr Asrul said.

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