The formation of the Lions Resource Centre for Autistic Children in Penang was spearheaded by the good work and efforts put in by Mrs Diana E. Khoo, who was then the Regional Training Officer for Far East Region Cheshire
Homes. In January 1987, two volunteer speakers from South Australia, Wendy Anderson and Barbara Long, arrived
in Penang to conduct a 5 - day workshop entitled “Children with Autism’. Shortly after the workshop, a meeting
among parents, members of the Lions Clubs, doctors and interested members of the public bore fruit when a
programme for autistic children was launched in the same year.
We started humbly from a room at the Cheshire Home and then moved to the main hall of a house in 515-E Jalan
Hashim , Tanjong Bungah. A fund raising event was held by the Region One Lions and Lioness Clubs in November
1987 to raise funds for the Centre. Under the leadership of District Governor 308B, Lion Ong Tat Lien, the centre
was adopted as a District Project for 5 years. The Lions Resource Centre for Autistic Children was officially
launched in February 1988 by the Lions Club International President Brian Stevenson at Shangri-La Inn Penang
(now known as Traders Hotel). The District then appointed Lion Lim Eng Chye as the Chairman of the Centre.
Thereafter, the Centre was placed under the responsibility of the Lions Club of Georgetown Central and in recent
years, the Lions Club of Tanjung Penang.
In 1989, Lion Lim Eng Chye wrote to Past-District Governor Dennis Weatherall of District 201N2 for assistance. In
November that year, two Lions from the Lions Club of Georgetown Mutiara, Lion Sue See and Lion Maggie Khoo
volunteered to visit Sydney to study autism with the Autistic Association of New South Wales. Their study included
visits to the Association’s centres, meetings with the teachers and training sessions at those centres.
Upon their return, the core committee worked hard to establish the structure of the Centre and the teaching-
learning programmes. Most of the teaching-learning programmes took place on weekends with the assistance of
dedicated volunteers. Lion Lindsay Payne of Australia played an important role in obtaining manuals and video-
tapes on autism to set up our library of resources.
Upon his visit to the Centre in 1990, he found excellent progress made despite the limited professional knowledge
and resources available. His recommendations to the 201N2 Cabinet resulted in Jacqueline Roberts, a speech
pathologist and principal of the Vern Burnett School visiting our Centre to conduct assessments, training and
sharing her teaching methods for the autistic children. From time to time, we were privileged to have
many professionals and experts in the field of autism conducting training for volunteers, teachers and parents in
Professor Dato’ Dr See Ching Mey, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the Division of Industry and Community from
Universiti Sains Malaysia is an active social worker and strong advocate for children with special needs who has
provided services in those areas as voluntary basis. Professor Dato’ Dr See has been the volunteer principal at
Lions REACh since 1989 and she is the founder of all the curriculas in the centre. She develops, plans,
coordinates and reviews all the curriculas and modules of the centre.
In 2000, we registered with the Registrar of Societies as “Association of Resource and Education for Autistic
Children”. Since then, we operate as an independent organization. Our centre is now located in a residential area
in Bukit Gelugor. We have come a long way from a humble beginning filled with obstacles to our present status. In
July 1998, we started a branch in Butterworth under the chairmanship of Lion Choo Beng Chin to meet the
increasing needs of the Northern Region in Malaysia. Due to the increasing number of children, we have purchased another building at 279 Jalan Pekeliling, 11700 Penang. The administration office and all programmes were moved to the new centre by May 2013. The facilities of the Centre now include an office and library, a computer room, a Neuro-Feedback room, woodwork and recycling corner, a classroom and a spacious hall to conduct group programmes.
We have altogether 17 programmes and nine services. Our individual programmes include One-to-One Learning
Programme, Computer Class (Learning Box), Neuro-feedback, Sensory Integration and Hydrotherapy. Our group
programmes include Music and Movement, Pre-Vocational and Vocational Training, Family Group Therapy, Play Group, Snoezelen, Storytelling, Art and Creativity Stimulation, Occupational Therapy, Lions OptiMusic, Pottery Class, Traverse Wall and Community Living Camp. The nine services include Parent Support Group, Respite Care, Diagnostic and Developmental Assessment, Consultation and Counseling Services, Buddy System, Training, Library, Awareness Campaigns and Research and Publication.
To date, we have assessed about 650 children and from the initial enrolment of only 8, we currently have around 80
children of various races and ranging in age from 3 to 30 years old attending both Centres. The Centre enrolls the
help of volunteers, part-time and full-time teachers to teach the children. Apart from the daily teaching-learning
programme, the volunteers and teachers assess children and plan educational programmes for the children. They
also facilitate and supervise the programmes in the Centre.
Our objectives of providing free services, involvement of parents, and emphasizing on the holistic training approach
have contributed to the success of our autistic children for the past 26 years. The progress and success of our
children in achieving their developmental milestones and being included into the mainstream education, workforce
and community have made all our sacrifices and efforts worthwhile.