Public urged to advocate for those with autism

National 1 minute, 44 seconds


THE Society for the Management of Autism Related Issues in Training, Education and Resources (SMARTER) Brunei has urged the public to advocate for people with autism in a bid to end discrimination and social exclusion.

Malai Hj Abdullah Hj Malai Othman of the non-government and non-profit organisation made the appeal yesterday at the opening of the Eighth National Autism Conference.

“Unfortunately, autism is seen as a disability in isolation, not as a person. We, the family, feel discriminated and marginalised, labeled as nuisance, troublemaker and impatient. Society forgets the impact autism has upon the family,” he said at the Al-‘Afiah Hall, Ministry of Health.

The founder and CEO claimed they face social isolation and rejection, emotional tensions, physical exhaustion and financial burden.

Citing the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, he called on the public to advocate for individuals with autism to ensure they are not unfairly discriminated against and to promote their rights as people with disabilities and citizens.

He added that public policies should also support and accommodate the efforts of organisations for autism including SMARTER Brunei.

“Please support our efforts in continuing to provide world-class quality service for individuals with autism through our awareness programme with impetus of acceptance and appropriate action,” he said.

He explained that lack of support was the driving force behind the establishment of SMARTER Brunei in 2001 as a support system for people with autism.

“Hopefully, at the end of this conference, we will come up with the resolution for appropriate action plan.”

He said the plan is hoped to address rights of people with autism, economic and educational constraints, social indifferences and injustice.

It will also address minimal technical infrastructure by “facilitating, accepting, collaborating and embracing” autism into society.

Organised by SMARTER Brunei and Flinders University with the support of the Australian government’s New Colombo Plan, the two-day conference brought together 100 autism specialists, academics and family members.

Malai Hj Abdullah hoped it will “increase awareness and acceptance of the challenges, obstacles, setbacks and threats faced by individuals with autism.

The Brunei Times