Call For Better Facilities for Children With Special Needs

Call For Better Facilities for Children With Special NeedsBy Asmahanim Amir
Pix Muhammad Izwan Azman

BANGI, 29 April 2015 – The Government has been urged to provide learning facilities for children with special needs – especially youngsters with the neuro developmental disorder Autism – and not many programmes that incur huge costs.

Director of Permata Kurnia Assoc Prof Dr Hasnah Toran said American research showed that expenses of providing learning to children with special educational needs stood at RM 28,000 to RM 106,000 per person per annum.

The research done by the  US National Centre for Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities showed that the cost of providing unique programmemes for children reached up to RM 350,000 for each individual depending on the extent of Autism.

“I believes that Malaysia also spends a lot on preparatory programmes for children with Autism. I suggested that the government provide learning facilities to autistic children to reduce the burden of the parents of the children,” she said in her discourse titled The Evolution of Super Mum: The Challenge of Raising Children with Disabilities, here on April 23.

Permata Kurnia is a curriculum under the PERMATA programme purpose-built to educate autistic children aged 6 years and under.

She said that while the government provides Community Centres (PDK) for autistic children, they are still not enough.

“Not every town has a PDK. The teacher to pupil ratio is 1:11 and learning tools that are available are incomplete,” she remarked.

Dr Hasnah said autistic children sent to mainstream schools are given the opportunity to study there for three months only.

“If the children are not able to achieve, they cannot continue their studies there because most schools emphasise student success in examinations while these children need more attention and training from teachers,” she explained.

She said the pressure faced by parents of children with special needs are much higher when compared to parents of children with typical development.

“They (parents) are under pressure to provide higher maintenance for the children and yet there is lack of service and support from the outside.

“Service and support for children with special needs in Malaysia is far behind compared to the developed countries,” she declared.

Dr Hasnah also clarified that her case studies indicated there were mothers who quit their careers to focus on caring for their autistic offspring and also opened their own training centres to guide autistic children in their daily lives.

“Among the things the training centres teach are simplified cooking, washing and folding clothes, gardening and others.

“Why are such things not taught in schools? Because the philosophy of education in Malaysia is less emphasis on educating children with special needs. This needs to be changed,” she concluded.