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Home  > Media Hub > Press Releases 2016
UCSI promotes awareness of autism
2 April 2016

TEAMWORK: Participants painting one of several mysterious canvases that were later fitted together to reveal a beautiful mural to commemorate World Autism Awareness Day 2016.

GROUP PHOTO: Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences and Liberal Arts, Dr Chan Nee Nee (in dark blue) with the students and staff of UCSI’s Psychology programme at the end of the event.

KUALA LUMPUR: Autism is a lifelong development difficulty that affects how an individual relates, communicates and interacts with other people as well as how they perceive the world around them. According to the autism statistics from the United States of America’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as of 2014, 1 out of 68 children have been identified as being on the autism spectrum.

To celebrate hope for families affected by autism and advocate acceptance for individuals with autism, UCSI University (UCSI) in collaboration with the Early Autism Project (EAP) Malaysia, organised a World Autism Awareness Day event. The event themed ‘#lovesomeonewithautism’ and ‘#welcometohope’ is in conjunction with the National Autism Awareness Month, which is celebrated worldwide every April.

Kick-starting the event was Jad, a 3-year-old who attends EAP Malaysia’s education programmes. He released 100 blue balloons, accompanied by the Programme Director of EAP Malaysia, Jochebed Isaacs; Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences and Liberal Arts (FOSSLA), Dr Chan Nee Nee; and celebrity host, Deborah Priya Henry. Approximately 100 people from the public and UCSI community witnessed the launch.

During the launch, Isaacs said, “This year we want to celebrate the achievements, small and large, of individuals with autism and give hope to the many families affected by autism. We want to begin advocating for and creating a society that includes and accepts people with autism.

“For us to do that as a society, we need to first be open to understand what it is like for a child with autism and also a child who transitions into adulthood with autism. Adults with autism face discrimination that comes from a lack of understanding about the condition. The tolerance that is extended to children with autism is often lacking and we hope that we can begin to create a philosophy of inclusion and acceptance.”

A series of activities were held which included a dialogue session with parents of children with autism, hosted by former Miss Malaysia Universe, Deborah Henry and co-hosted by Harkishen, an 11-year-old boy with autism. Parents shared their journey and stories of how they coped with their child’s autism diagnosis.

Visiting US-based clinical psychologist Dr Nan Huai, from Wisconsin Early Autism Project (WEAP), shared her latest findings on autism and emphasised the importance of evidence-based treatment. She also recommended websites and journals for parents and members of the community to refer to, to further understand this complex brain development disorder.

Participants at the event were also treated to a variety of activities which included games and arts and crafts for children. A screening booth for the initial assessment of autism was also available for the public. Local artists Kent Sim, David Soh and Samuel Lopez entertained the crowd with busking performances throughout the event.

According to Siti Fatimah Binti Hj Sulaiman, a BSc (Hons) Biotechnology student in UCSI, the event was an incredible experience for her.

“I was exposed to something deeper about autism and the things that the parents shared during the dialogue session, has never crossed my mind before. It was quite an experience and we should do this more in the future to educate the society regarding this issue.”

The event was made more memorable as the University sponsored a wall at their campus to host Malaysia’s first ever ‘Paint for Autism’ project. Headed by UCSI’s Psychology programme from FOSSLA, the event saw participants paint 30 mysterious canvas that was later fitted together to reveal a beautiful mural of hope to commemorate World Autism Awareness Day 2016.

"Without prejudice to the rights of UCSI the information herein is correct at the time of printing and UCSI reserves the right to make amendments without prior notice."
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