‘We need to ensure autism programmes are beneficial’

National 2 minutes, 4 seconds


COLLABORATION is necessary in order to ensure that autism programmes and best practices from different countries are beneficial for Brunei.

“We need to think about what are the best practices and the consequences that might follow when we (adopt) these practices,” said Debbie Smith, a lecturer at the University of Flinders, during the 8th Brunei National Conference on Autism held yesterday at the Ministry of Health’s Al-Afiah Hall.

She said Brunei has seen cases of people coming to the country and making promises of an amazing programme which didn’t work because they didn’t take into consideration the differences in culture and what can be applied in the country.

“There are a lot of programmes in the world that are not best practices, so we need to make sure that we choose autism programmes that are person-centred and benefit (those) living with autism, their families and their communities as well.”

During an open forum, Smith said collaboration was the best approach as families will be able to provide input and work with professionals to determine the best solution.

“What we need to do is make sure that we work personally with families. As professionals, we need to understand that we are partners, and instead of telling them what to do, they should be working with you to find the right solutions.

“Families come with their own skills, talents and experience that we can utilise, and we need to look at what strengths they have and help them develop them,” she said.

During the forum, Malai Hj Abdullah Malai Hj Othman, president of the Society for the Management of Autism Related Issues in Training, Education and Resources (SMARTER), said collaboration within the country is equally important.

“What SMARTER is trying to do (currently) is set a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP). We have more than 40 students who attend mainstream schools and SMARTER. Sometimes about two thirds of them would refuse to attend mainstream school because they’re confused with the two different systems,” he said.

He said the SOP would ease the learning curve for these students as their learning would become more consistent rather than having different curriculums in different institutions.

“They get confused, and that doesn’t help them in the long run. Different teachers may have their own strategies, but we need to minimise this to make sure that everything is as smooth as possible or at the very least something manageable by the students.”

The Brunei Times