Awareness needed for individuals with communication disorder

KUALA LUMPUR: Some 24 individuals with different forms of communication disorders participated in an interactive programme today aimed at creating awareness of their condition to the public.

The individuals, including those diagnosed with autism, difficulty in hearing and stroke, also handed out T-shirts which had simple messages - informing all to allow time for those afflicted with the disorder to respond, use gestures to help them understand better and be patient and listen actively even if it is unclear.

Jennifer Peters Lee, who accompanied her stepdaughter, Sasha, admitted that there were challenges for an autistic child in terms of speech.

However, with speech therapy and physical exercise, Sasha gradually has learned to interact with others.

Jennifer also noted that with a specialised programme for parents to understand their children's behaviour, it empowers them to forge forward.

Meanwhile, bank officer Hidayati Basri echoed this sentiment while relating her eldest son's experience, who was initially misdiagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) as a child.

"I noticed that he was very active, and eventually sought an opinion from a doctor on his condition. But I was skeptical because he could read and write well, (which meant he could focus)," she said.

Their journey continued until she was advised by a teacher to seek assistance from the National Autism Society of Malaysia.

Her son was finally diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, a disorder related to autism that is characterised by awkwardness in social interaction, pedantry in speech, and preoccupation with very narrow interests.

Malaysian Association of Speech and Hearing president Nor Shahrina Mod. Zawawi, who was present, said hope and understanding remain the key element to assimilate those with communication difficulties into society.