Roadshow to highlight special needs children

National 2 minutes, 12 seconds


THE Ministry of Education (MoE) through its Special Education Unit is planning to conduct a nationwide roadshow next year to raise awareness on special needs children.

Many people, especially parents, are not knowledgeable about special needs children, and some are even afraid to admit that their child is differently abled, said Ali Yusri Abdul Ghafor, head of the Special Education Unit, in a recent interview.

InsyaAllah, next year, we will conduct a campaign at schools, mosques and in some villages to spread knowledge to the public on special needs students,” he said.

“Everyone should help us — especially those parents who have or may have children with special needs. They should assist us in spreading awareness to other parents that have no knowledge on this matter.”

He said many parents, for example, are not aware that their children have autism or dyslexia.

“When parents realise that their child isn’t normal, they start to become worried. Their perception of their child will be different after knowing they have autism or dyslexia.

“If parents tell us about the difference in their child’s attitude or behaviour, we encourage them to bring them for a medical checkup at the Ministry of Health’s Child Development Centre or to the Special Education Unit.

“We will help them identify their child’s condition, sit with the child and help them to deal with their condition.”

He said parents shouldn’t be afraid of or uncomfortable with their child’s condition.

“These children are gifted and have different abilities from other children. There’s a need for people to get rid of the negative labeling towards children with special needs.”

Ali Yusri went on to give some examples of the common characteristics among children with autism.

“For example, autistic children have anxiety in social situations and are afraid to face other people and crowds or are afraid of loud noises. Some children with autism are shy and quiet or the other way round.

“Having children with special needs may be difficult and upsetting, but it doesn’t mean they can’t learn or study or even be integrated with society.

“We want the children to live like other children or even better than others. But we want parents to come forward in order to make this a success,” he said.

Ali Yusri said the reality of special needs children isn’t a recent social phenomenon; it has been around for generations.

But “in these modern times, with the availability of professionals in gathering data and its exposure in the media, people might think it’s a recent phenomenon,” he said.

The Brunei Times