Parents at the Centre wrote their heart-warming testimonies below. The names printed are not their actual names but the stories are real.
From Mrs. W on her twins, H and K
Both of my twins H and K were extremely hyp eractive when they were aged four to seven. They had temper tantrums and possessed very short attention span. Furthermore, they could not interact with anyone nor follow instructions. Even their gross and fine motor skills were poor. But since their training at REACh, their behaviour, attention span, social skills and academic abilities have improved tremendously.
I am grateful for the programmes in the Centre. The individual programmes have helped modify their behaviour while the group play sessions have taught them to improve their social skills. They have learnt to be less aggressive, more tolerant and able to follow instructions.
In addition, their motor coordination, speech and audio-visual abilities improved through the Music & Movement Therapy sessions. They are now more relaxed and K is now eagerly looking forward to help the teacher lead the music session.
Gratefully, through the Pre-Vocational sessions, my twins have now acquired the fine motor skills that normal children have. And encouragingly, they have learnt to interact and share with other children, thus making them ‘good friends’ of the younger children.
I must also say that the impact of the Snoezelen Room has greatly benefited my children. As they become calmer and more relaxed, they become more observant, more imaginative and more descriptive in their conversation.
With all the years of training at REACh, they have miraculously learnt to become a big brother and a leader, being able to give instructions and express their feelings.
I am most grateful to the Centre for all their love and kindness. And it is because of the dedication of the Chairman, volunteers and teachers towards my children that today my two sons are able to finish their secondary education and H has entered College successfully.
My twins are now adults in the community. H worked as a production clerk for four years before returning to studies early this year. He is now enrolled in a skill industry-led training centre for two years doing a Applied Engineering course. K is a production operator in afactory. They have grown to be more independent. Through routine training, they know where and when to wait for the bus, which factory bus to take as well as which bus stop to alight at. H & K are not only able to order their own food, but also able to buy sundry items at the nearby sundry shop, make payment and receive change.
From Rashitah on her son, FR
FR was very active when he was just one year old and he could not sit for more than 10 minutes. He played on his own and liked to spin the wheels of toy bicycle instead of playing it appropriately. He also did not communicate with his older sister. Even at the age of four, he could not be toilet trained and had no speech. During his preschool years, he was not able to mix around with other children and followed routines rigidly. He would get very upset when his routine was disrupted.
During the first two months at REACh, he would cry for the whole 80 minutes until it was time to go home. It took him quite a while to be familiar with the teachers and environment. He started talking in one or two words after two months and was fully toilet trained. Now he is able to speak in full sentences.
The same thing happened when he joined the family group session. It took him months to adapt to the new environment. While his favourite programme is the music and movement sessions. After a year of music and movement therapy, he was able to follow all movements in rhythm without any help or prompting. Now, he is trained to lead the group to sing during song time. FR also helps the music teacher in the session by distributing music equipments to his friends and collecting them back after the sequence is completed.
FR is enrolled in a mainstream class in a Government school. He enjoys going to school and has a few friends who understand and care about him. He has strong pictorial memory and his attention span has improved greatly.
He still follows a rigid and without a miss, he would call me during recess time everyday. He is now trained to take the school bus home after school.
As an elder brother, FR has to adjust his routine t accommodate his younger brother who is also autistic. Through negotiation, he is able to accept AM’s behaviours and habits that contradict with his. Having a younger brother gave FR a chance to learn to care and be compassionate.
He may not excel academically but he has grown to be more independent than he was before. With proper guidance and attention, I am confident he can head a normal life although he is still special in his own special way.
From KS on her son, CC
CC was born a healthy baby. However, his developmental progress was different from other children. He did not cry when he was injured or sick and he would only eat certain food. His temper was so bad and violent that I no longer knew what to do except caning and beating him. When he was enrolled into kindergarten, he could not recognise alphabets, was inattentive and often left alone. He muttered to himself sounds that were unintelligent and even eerie to me sometimes.
At the age of 5, I brought CC to the Centre for assessment and it was confirmed that he has autism. After starting his training at the Centre, my son learnt how to put words together to form sentences, say the words at the right time, bathe on his own and keep his own things. However, he still had poor and unreceptive memory. CC was enrolled to a normal school at the age of seven but he had a really bad time. Classmates often bullied him due to his odd behaviour. He could neither follow the lessons at school nor do the homework he needed to do. Luckily he had a cousin and a teacher who helped him with his homework.
Fortunately, CC had a breakthrough at the age of nine. He showed improvement in many areas. His memory recalls progressed and he became more aware of his surroundings. He learnt to socialise, execute instructions and wait for his turn. He could manage his unstable temperament. He started to hold conversations with the family and be considerate of his family members’ feelings. His autistic features were reduced greatly. Sometimes people are surprised that he has autism, as he behaves just like any normal teenager.
CC sat for his PMR in 2008. He scored 2As, 2Bs, 3Cs and 1D. We are very proud of him. He has been also chosen to be a leader in the various group programmes in the Centre. CC is a helpful and independent boy. He helps to manage the behaviour of the younger ones and lends a hand to the teachers whenever he can. He sat for SPM in 2010 and scored well too. He managed to get a scholarship to study in the Foundation Programme at one of the private universities in Malaysia. He has then further his degree studies in Computer Science. He now lives in a student hostel and living the life of a normal university student.
From ML on her son, Albert
Albert is the first grandson to be born into the family. He was a healthy baby and showed normal development except for his speech. We took him to a child psychiatrist and he was referred to occupational therapy. It was then that he started to mumble single words.
No doctors that we brought our son to diagnosed him as autistic. Doctors mentioned that he is normal with slight behavior problem. We taught him ourselves from kindergarten to primary. When he was in standard 3, his form teacher kept saying that he needs to be put into a special school. Both my husband and I were heartbroken.
I read an article in the Star newspaper by Professor Dr Susie on autism one day. I compared my son with all features in that article and he has most of them. I called up for an assessment and as a result he was confirmed autistic.
He went through mainstream education system from primary to secondary. There were many obstacles during these schooling years. Now he is working with his father as an assistant in repairing machinery. He can operate heavy tools; carry tool cases for his father, which lessens his burden. He receives a salary every month and was taught how to save. He still needs to improve on his social skills. Going to work every day proves to be an adventure for Albert especially the trip to Grik when they pass through mountains and animals can be seen alongside the road. All his father’s customers know him well by now.
From LW on her son, SL
As a baby, SL had an odd sleeping pattern. He didn’t seem to need much sleep and could be up all night. He was selective with food. I would try to make him eat a variety of food but he would spit out the food that he did not like or want. Going to the supermarket was a nightmare. He would simply grab tins, packages and objects off the shelves. When I tried to put back the things he took, SL would throw himself on the floor and make a scene by crying and screaming. It was always an embarrassing event in such public places. As I observe him with other children, I noticed that he would play by himself and not respond when I called him. He was always moving and jumping.
One day, I read an article in a newspaper on autism and the symptoms described were similar to my son. SL was at diagnosed with autism at three years old and admitted to REACh. His first few teaching-learning sessions were chaotic. He would throw or topple tables and chairs onto the floor. He needed at least two teachers to physically restrain him as he was aggressive. After few months, he slowly settled down and improvement can be seen. When he was enrolled into primary school, teachers commented that he was quiet but had no complaints at all about his behavior. For this, I was glad. After six months in school, he became more sociable and talkative. He learnt how to make negotiations for his homework to be hand in later. He knew how to ask for presents for getting good marks.
Most of the stresses and strains are over now. SL has moved into mild autism spectrum and has a good chance of integrating into the society on his own. He excels in his academic studies and has made good friends in the Centre and in school. He recently received 7As and 1B in PMR. We are very proud of him.
Our family is much happier now that he is able to cope better in school, at home and in public. I did not expect this outcome and I am thankful that the guidance, cooperation and help given at REACh and the school have made this possible.