‘Design programmes to suit individual needs of those with autism’

National 2 minutes, 15 seconds


SERVICE providers offering care programmes and aid to those with autism or disabilities should communicate with the patients and the families to come up with the most suitable programmes for the individuals.

“I think we have a responsibility as professionals to help parents explore what’s out there and to see what is right for their children,” said Debbie Smith, a lecturer at the University of Flinders.

She said this during an interview at the 8th Brunei National Conference on Autism held earlier this week at the Ministry of Health’s Al-Afiah Hall.

Smith said that services should not decide on a particular programme without first understanding the priority of the family and what they would like to achieve for their children.

“When SMARTER first began in 2000, we organised get-togethers once a month where we would explore topics with the parents (to understand their concerns). We then gave them information (regarding those concerns), allowing them to understand the available options,” said Smith.

“As professionals, what we should do is give information to parents about what is available and how that might benefit their child. Parents won’t necessarily be able to (clearly decide on a particular programme). However, if we gave parents information and talked to them about why these programmes might suit their child and benefit them, then (the parents) will be making an informed decision,” she said.

During the interview, Smith advised parents not to be afraid of asking questions. She urged them to understand how the programmes work and to actively seek for the best programmes that will benefit their children.

“Parents are nervous about doing these things, that’s because often times they don’t know anything about the services but unless they ask the questions people won’t always share the information,” said Smith.

“Both sides come with expertise, parents know their child and their own circumstances very well and the service (providers) know their programmes very well so what we need to do is to identify what we think is good and then sit down and talk about it,” said Smith.

The lecturer said that parents should be wary of services that do not have their best interest in mind.

“As parents, they know what is needed in the family. Services should share and discuss (these needs) and have some kind of compromise that makes sure that they are all working towards the best (solution),” said Smith.

“Each family doesn’t have the same needs, if the service doesn’t try to get to know the family then we can’t be sure they’re doing the right thing because they don’t know what the family needs,” she said.

The Brunei Times