SMARTER to launch new centre soon

National 1 minute, 41 seconds


BRUNEI’S first purpose-built autism intervention centre is up and running and will be officially launched soon, said the president of Society for the Management of Autism Related issues in Training, Education and Resources (SMARTER).

Malai Hj Abdullah Malai Hj Othman said the new facility in Kg Mata-Mata could accommodate 144 students, has 12 classrooms and a sensory therapy courtyard.

“We already moved in on May 1 from our previous centre in Sengkurong. It’s an old bungalow that was given by the Ministry of Health, but because there is an open space we managed to build some purpose-built facilities for autism,” he told The Brunei Times.

“We will have areas for speech therapy, sensory therapy, music and a play area… Before we had to adapt our previous building which was problematic but this building will be unique.”

The new centre was converted from an old bungalow and was built at a cost of $111,400, through the help of various donors including Yayasan Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah (YSHHB), Lim Kun Yuan Charity for Autism, Kingston Creamery & Beverage, D’Sunlit Sdn Bhd, DSt Sdn Bhd, and Syarikat Perniagaan Malar Setia.

“This centre will definitely provide a better learning environment for the children… The main difference is that we have our sensory integration area right in the middle of the building. It’s like a jungle gym, so the students can come out of the classroom if they’re stressed and play there,” said Malai.

He added that although the Mata-Mata centre has been operational for more than a month, SMARTER is still putting things in place and needs to move all remaining equipment from Sengkurong.

Malai also spoke of the monthly struggle to pay operational costs and salaries of the staff from SMARTER’s donations.

“It’s a constant struggle… I have to find the money, I still don’t have enough money to pay the salaries. There is a small population and a growing number of NGOs so the pie is getting smaller,” he said.

The Brunei Times