Children with autism can lead regular lives, too

“Being autistic does not stop someone from leading a normal life.”

Federation of Reproductive Health Associations Malaysia (FRHAM) chairman, Associate Professor Dr Kamal Kenny, hammered home that point during a roundtable discussion earlier this month.

FRHAM organised the discussion to celebrate International Autism Awareness Month (IAAM), which ends tomorrow.

“Children on the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) may be differently-abled, but with the right tools, methods, guidance and support, they are just as capable, if not more so, than all of us,” said Kamal.

“The key is identifying the signs at an early age.”

According to the Health Ministry’s annual report, 589 children under the age of 18 were diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder in 2021, up five per cent from 562, in 2020.

Kamal said the number could be even higher, as many Malaysian parents do not get their children tested.

In the United States, one in 36 children falls under ASD.

“Parents must not be afraid to test their children. There is no stigma involved if your child is autistic,” said Kamal.

“Acceptance is the key. Parents and caregivers should first learn to accept, then provide support and guidance to their children and those that they know who live with autism.”

Meanwhile, autism advocate U. Suresh said the lack of awareness about autism is worrying.

“I was clueless about autism until my son was diagnosed with it a couple of years ago,” said Suresh.

“He was tested when he was four-and-a-half years old, which is late. After the diagnosis, my wife and I read up and took courses to learn more about autism.”

He said he met many parents who did not know their children had ASD, as they assumed the kids were naughty or just being difficult.

Studies show that ASD can be identified in children as young as 18 months. However, many kids do not get a definitive diagnosis until they are much older.


If you want Thai or Laos food, or hope to learn more about their culture, head to The Square @ Publika Shopping Gallery from May 12-21.

A food, music, and culture festival celebrating all things Thai and Laos promises to be a fun treat for the whole family.


Drop by Taman Desa Playground and Park near the Taman Desa Residents’ Association Community Hall tomorrow for a green community bazaar.

Participate in recycling activities, eat vegan and organic food, check out cultural and lifestyle booths, and support your neighbourhood organic farmers!

Bring your bags, containers, and utensils to show you are environmentally conscious, and educate park visitors.


Those still in the Hari Raya mood may want to try this ginger and walnut carrot cake recipe.


Harry Belafonte died of congestive heart failure on April 25. The legendary singer, actor, and civil rights activist was 96.

Born in Harlem, New York, to immigrant parents from Jamaica, the American rose to prominence in the 1950s when his interpretation of calypso music popularised the sounds of the Caribbean.

Belafonte’s first major single arrived in 1953 with ‘Matilda’, mixing a stew of styles, including calypso and the Jamaican folk form, mento. Although he had more popular songs, such as ‘Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)’, ‘Jamaica Farewell’, ‘Coconut Woman’, and ‘Jump in the Line (Shake, Senora)’, we end this week’s Diary with ‘Midnight Special’.

Although popularised by Creedence Clearwater Revival, ‘Midnight Special’ is a traditional folk song thought to have originated among prisoners in the American South as far back as 1905.

Belafonte’s version is noteworthy as it features Bob Dylan on harmonica in the latter’s first officially-released recording.

Until next week, stay safe.

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