A group of concerned parents and professionals founded Malaysia’s signature autism society in 1986. This complex developmental disability was only beginning to emerge as a distinct condition back then. Many parents and physicians simply did not understand the neurological disorder behind the symptoms.
NASOM registered as a national charitable organization on March 3, 1987. It now provides nationwide services assisting people on the autistic spectrum. Its particular focus is children and their immediate families. Because that’s where it feels can make the greatest impact on life-long outcomes.
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National Autism Society of Malaysia’s Vision and Mission
The society imagines a future in which autistic people reach their full potential in an inclusive society. It hopes they will be able to participate in their communities, and lead a meaningful life with dignity someday.
Much work lies ahead of NASOM before it can achieve this goal. The organization describes its current mission thus:
- Work with beneficiaries, members, and stakeholders to improve the quality of life of people with the condition, and their families.
- Achieve this through knowledge, programs, resources, services, and social innovations. Promote autistic rights and opportunities.
This mission requires fleshing out to have a meaningful impact at this time. The organization is therefore currently pursuing the following intermediate goals.
Current Objectives of NASOM in Malaysia
- Identify and promote improved education, acceptance, welfare, and general treatment of those on the condition spectrum.
- Protect and watch over the fortunes of people living with autism. Support their families through assistance and advice.
- Become a valuable resource in the study and development of remedial programs, and treatment of the disorder.
Board and Administration of National Autism Society of Malaysia
Thirteen board members represent a wide sphere of interests as they guide the organization at strategic level. They appoint a chief executive to manage day to day administration and operations. Some 150 staff members, inclusive of teachers attend to NASOM’s daily work.
Six Core Services on Offer to the Nation
The non-profit delivers six broad services through its administrative arm on a decentralized basis. These include:
- Early intervention program
- Transition program
- Skills development program
- Intensive intervention program
- Vocational program
- Assessment and therapy
Early Intervention Program
Autistic children aged 3 to 12 receive basic education following the U.S. STAR program. This package delivers critical skills to help them develop as normally as possible. Its core focus falls on developing skills typically associated with first two or three years of life. These include physical control, emotional regulation, cognitive ability, social skills, and communication.
The NASOM transition program follows on from early intervention, by enabling more able children to develop further. The overarching goal is to help them transition to mainstream government or private school. However, every autistic child is different, and not all of them are capable of achieving that goal.
Skills Development Program
Children unable to join the main education stream enter a vocational phase, where they learn practical skills. This acts as bridge by exposing them to art, painting, music, and so forth.
The mainstream vocational program caters for teens and young adults caught in autism. Here they learn practical skills such as cooking, baking, packing, and so on. Some private companies help vocational students gain practical experience. KFC for example provides opportunities to help pack sauces and tissues into individual packs for take away orders.
However, some students with severe autistic symptoms have difficulty adapting to any of the programs outlined above. In this instance, one-on-one intensive interventions may be the solution. The non-profit has special teachers providing full care and attention.
Assessment and Therapy
A senior psychologist holds regular clinics at NASOM Setia Alam One Stop Centre in Shah Alam, Selangor, Malaysia. They conduct individual assessments to determine whether a child has autism or not. Occupational, including speech therapy is also available depending on their diagnosis.
Centres of Excellence Throughout Malaysia
National Autism Society of Malaysia has headquarters at Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia. From there its activities fan out throughout the country, with numerous local bases in each of Central, Northern, Southern, East, and East Coast Regions.
Numerous Ways for Public Interest to Become Involved
NASOM welcomes individual and corporate support, in fact it needs it to keep moving forward. Consider one of the following four ways if you feel called to help:
DONATIONS: The non-profit depends on generosity of organizations and individuals, to support the autism community through autism education, awareness, advocacy, and research. All donations are tax exempt under Section 44(6) of Income Tax Act 1967.
VOLUNTEERS: There are rewarding opportunities for volunteers who wish to make a difference in their communities, and are fun, kind and patient. Advisers help these unpaid workers find their ideal role in programs, activities and events.
FUNDRAISERS: The national society welcomes any collaboration or relationship with an organization, fan club, or individual. So they may be able to assist in the development of the autism community while learning about the condition. It has several online donation sites.
MEMBERSHIP: Many individuals and corporates simply do not have the time to assist in practical terms. However they are welcome to enrol as paid members in one of several categories as they wish.
The National Autism Society of Malaysia encourages anybody sharing their ideals to join them, and participate in the process of advancing the society’s objectives. Helping an autistic child engage in society is surely one of life’s most rewarding goals.