PENANG, 18 January 2013 - Parents were urged to be more realistic towards autistic children in line with their capabilities and not put unnecessary expectations on them.
Advanced Medical and Dental Institute (IPPT) pediatrician, Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), Dr. Intan Juliana Abdul Hamid, said that autism in children is a developmental disorder that is very complex whose symptoms had arisen before the child reached the age of 3 years.
She said that the cause of autism is a neurobiological disorder that affects brain function, resulting in a child being unable to interact and communicate effectively with the outside world.
“Therefore, parents need to understand this very well, never to give up easily and try to immerse themselves in a support group such as Autism Parent Support Group (APSG) for moral support and constant motivation.
“If you look children with autism physically they seem normal but the fact is that they have a brain function disorder,” she said during a lecture What is Autism? in Sungai Petani recently.
The talk was held in conjunction with a special seminar organized by IPPT USM to increase awareness of autism among parents and caregivers of children with the brain disorder.
Dr. Juliana added that, briefly, the signs of autism are slow to speak, speech that is not normal or is not able to speak, non-verbal language that is not normal, less movement of the limbs, difficulty socialise, and playing alone.
However, she stressed, autism can be treated with a variety of treatment methods including consulting child specialist, child psychiatrist, therapist occupational medicine, occupational medicine specialist.
“Parents need to be sensitive to children's development and quickly bring their children for an evaluation if they suspect their child has the characteristics of autism, If need further examination, the children will be referred to a specialist,” she said.
In the meantime, a one-day seminar was organised in collaboration with the Sultan Abdul Halim Hospital (HSAH) Sungai Petani, the National Autism Society of Malaysia - NASOM and the Autism Parent Support Group (APSG) Sungai Petani.
The event was officiated the HSAH Psychiatry & Mental Health Head of the Department, Dr. Shamshunnisah Abu Bakr, was well-received by the 210 participants consisting of parents, teachers, and hospital staff.
Other speakers were HSAH Child Psychiatrist Dr. P. Vasanthi and NASOM Kuala Lumpur Branch Deputy Principal, Rusmawati Abdullah.