Monday, March 29, 2010

Supported Living Overnight Program 27-28 March 2010 (Sat - Sun)

i) Celebrating William's 23rd Birthday.
ii) Presentation about Earth Hour - and Switching off lights for an hour between 8.30 pm - 9.30 pm

Objectives: To celebrate with each other.
To raise awareness towards reducing the use of energy in our daily lives.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Supported Living Day Program 20 March 2010

i) Discussion on current affairs using the day`s Newspaper.
ii) Rearranging the furnitures in the house with the help of Monash students.

Objectives: To enable individuals to be more aware of what is happening in the world and encourage participation in the setting up of the house .

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Supported Living Overnight Program 113-14 March 2010 (Sat - Sun)

i) Discussion about the importance of Recycling
ii) Setting up OPTIONS Recycling Project by emphasizing the concept of REUSE/ REDUCE/RECYCLE

Objectives: To enable individuals to understand what is happening around us due to excessive use of plastic, paper and metal and that each one of us is responsible for safeguarding environment.

Taking a group photo in front of our house was more difficult than we thought with Pinky our pet cat being uncooperative !!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Supported Living Day Program 6 March 2010

i) Attending the official opening of the new United Voice Building at Seksyen 17, Petaling Jaya.

Objectives: To encourage OPTIONS members to celebrate the success of UNITED VOICE ( 1st Self Advocacy group in Malaysia initiated by Dignity & Services ) in purchasing their own building.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

One Voice Wednesday January 20, 2010

Help at hand

One Voice by Pang Hin Yue

With proper intervention, children with learning disorders can make significant progress, too.

WHEN the wiring is faulty, a light bulb blinks and dims. Tweaking the wiring may just do the trick. Similarly, neuroscientists and psychologists are attempting through various ways and means to tease and trigger neurons or nerve cells into working in harmony for those whose thinking process, speech and development have been impaired.

Among them is the venerable psychologist Dr Reuven Feuerstein from the International Centre for the Enhancement of Learning Potential in Jerusalem.

Good progress: Emy Lim is convinced that Feuerstein’s way has helped her son, Joseph Diong, 8, overcome speech impediment and propelled him to excel in school.

Dr Feuerstein strongly believes that the brain is modifiable. He says the brain is not a fixed, unchanged entity but is elastic and can be stretched like plastic. He postulates that with the right intervention, the brain, no matter the degree of damage or injury, can be made to function optimally.

The brain, he asserts, requires systematic stimulation to build cognitive function, that is, specific methods for interpreting information and problem-solving to support learning and development. This is the heart of Dr Feuerstein’s theory which he first tested out on children who were traumatised by the Holocaust and who showed autistic tendencies.

For the past 50 years, Dr Feuerstein’s teachings based on his Structural Cognitive Modifiability Theory and Mediated Learning Experience have benefited families and teachers in over 80 countries.

On the local front, therapists Foo Siang Mun and K.C. Soo have adopted Dr Feuerstein’s approach to teach their students on both ends of the developmental spectrum – from persons with autism, Down Syndrome, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder to those with high IQ. They notice the significant inroads their students are making. Those who could not speak, are talking now. Those who could not read, are reading now. Those whose memories had failed them, are now gaining ground in their studies.

“Prior to 2005, I had tried speech therapy, occupational therapy and behavioural modification therapy, but my daughter made little progress. Under the care of Foo, she is talking and reading,” enthuses Dr Ailina about her daughter, Aiman Syafiqah Mahathir, 10, who was diagnosed with autism at three.

Jane Yeoh was amazed to see her son, Ben, 6, improving in speech and behaviour.

“We help students with the right strategies to decode the meaning of words and symbols, understand causes and effects, ask questions, follow rules and ultimately, to learn independently,” says Soo.

“We unblock the barriers to learning and then build up the learner’s ability,” he adds.

Both Soo and Foo are science graduates, each with over 10 years of experience in corporate training prior to their current vocation as certified Feuerstein’s Instrumental Enrichment trainers.

They stress that teaching children with learning issues is never static. “The learning process is dynamic. As you teach, you reinforce what the student knows and mediate in areas where he is weak,” says Soo.

In their daily one-on-one sessions with students, they observe how the students tackle the task and decide on what they need to understand to enrich their learning. It could be decoding the meaning of words, learning how to retain memory for the task at hand, solving problems, decoding mathematical symbols or learning how to ask questions.

“Many with learning disorders do not know how to ask questions,” Foo observes. Because it is an essential skill for communication, Foo and Soo teach their students the need to ask questions and show them how to do it.

“When they learn how to ask questions, they gain knowledge. This lessens their frustration, especially when they are placed in an unfamiliar setting or situation,” explains Foo. When their level of frustration lessens, inappropriate behaviour will decrease, too.

Theoretically, a child with no learning issues, learns directly from his environment. But when a child has a learning disability, he needs a little nudge to help him make sense of the information presented to him. In doing so, he learns to interact with people and blend into the environment.

But that is only one side of the story. The person who teaches must also know how to teach. “The learning does not start and end with the student. The mediator or teacher must first know how to teach effectively and the only way to do it, is to learn with the right tools. We believe Feuerstein’s method is the way to go for parents,” explains Soo.

Concurs Emy Lim, mother of Joseph Diong, eight. She is convinced that Feuerstein’s way has helped her son overcome speech impediment and propelled him to excel academically.

“My son could not speak even at the age of five and had behavioural issues. He was taken to see a few specialists and he was advised to undergo speech therapy. But that didn’t help,” recalls Lim, a pharmacist. But when she took Joseph to Foo and Soo, she discovered that he had a problem with auditory memory. “He could not remember what he heard and saw,” she says. But as she worked hand-in-hand with Soo and Foo, Joseph gradually overcame his problem with memory and began to talk. To Lim, that is a breakthrough.

Now Joseph consistently emerges as the best student in the private school he attends. Talking to him, it is hard to believe this articulate boy with a ready smile once had learning problems. Today one of his favourite pastime is reading books. “I like to read about the adventures of Geronimo Stilton,” says Joseph. Geronimo Stilton’s character is a talking mouse and the series of books based on his adventures are considered one of the bestselling children’s books.

Jane Yeoh is another parent who feels that her children have benefited from Foo and Soo’s way of teaching. She gave up her job as an illustrator to care for her sons Keith, eight, and Ben, six, both of whom have learning disorders. “Ben underwent speech therapy for two years but he did not show any improvement,” says Yeoh.

Hard-pressed, she decided to give Soo and Foo a try two years ago and was amazed to see Ben and Keith improving in speech and behaviour. “What I like about their teaching approach is that they are flexible and creative in troubleshooting,” she adds.

Soo and Foo stress that parents play an integral role in interventional therapies. “The child’s progress depends on how much time the parents are willing to put in,” says Soo.

Wan Chik Hanoom, mother of two special needs boys, concedes parental involvement is vital. She gave up her job with a multinational company to care for Mohd Anas Syed Mohd, 13, and Abu Talhah Syed Mohd, 18.

For years, she had to bear the brunt of the wrath of Talhah’s teachers for his behaviour. While Talhah had no problem reading and talking, she says, he had no comprehension of what he read and his speech was inappropriate. In addition to that, she had to watch over Anas who has Down Syndrome.

But five years ago, she sought the help of Foo and Soo and together they worked through the issues her two sons faced. Now Talhah has not only completed his major government exams, he is looking forward to going to college. “Anas is able to talk without any tantrums and he is better at managing himself,” beams Wan Chik.

A healthy dose of optimism helps, too. As Feuerstein says on his website: “Have faith because there is hope.”

One Voice is a monthly column which serves as a platform for professionals, parents and careproviders of children with learning difficulties. Feedback can be sent to For enquirie, call Malaysian Care (03-9058 2102) or Dignity & Services (03-7725 5569). E-mail:

Foo Siang Mun and K.C. Soo will be conducting a two-day seminar entitled The Mediated Learning Experience, from March 12 to 13 at Tropicana Golf and Country Resort Club House, Petaling Jaya, Selangor. Fee: RM555 per person; group of four: RM475 per person. For details, contact Foo (019-322 2952 / or Soo (017-886 8295 /

Conference on Supported Employment 4 March 2010

Hiring the disabled still a low priority

2010/03/05 New Straits Times

By Lydia Gomez

KUALA LUMPUR: Only 13 government agencies are hiring disabled people despite a government circular last year to increase their number to one per cent of the civil service workforce, Deputy Women, Family and Community Minister Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun said yesterday.
This means there is a lot more work to be done to raise awareness even within the government to allow disabled people, especially those with learning disabilities, a chance to become financially independent.

Chew said it is very important for the disabled to earn a living and for employers to give them the chance.

She said the ministry had employed 109 disabled people, making up 2.67 per cent of its work force and this number was expected to increase.

"Some of the disabled do better than some of us," she said.

"There are many success stories and, in fact, many of them are bosses of companies and they contribute to income tax.
"If the disabled have the will to work and employers are willing to hire, then we can make this work."

Chew was speaking after launching a seminar on supported employment for the disabled through job coaching.

She said more awareness campaigns were needed to impart information to employers and the public to overcome problems they may face when they employed the disabled.

Supported Living Overnight Program 27-28 Feb 2010 (Sat - Sun)

i) Singing Session with visitors Dean & Glenni Tweedle from Canada.

Objectives: To enable individuals to have fun with visitors

i) Separating our household rubbish into paper, plastic and glass/tin piles.

- to teach the youth the importance of recycling and taking care of the enviroment

i) Celebrating birthdays for Fendi & Ken Han. Both were born in the month of February.

- To teach individuals to care for each other (thanks to Wai Keen for the tasty Green Tea Cake!)

Supported Living Day Program 20 Feb 2010

i) Making chicken pies as requested by Ken Han

For individuals to participate in making their own chicken pies and having it for tea

One Voice November 4, 2009

Wednesday November 4, 2009

The Clement element


With his parents’ unwavering support, Clement Ooi emerges as an artist in his own right.

CLEMENT Ooi, 20, is in his element when he draws and paints. His flair for detailed drawing and skilful play of colours has won him awards and recognition, locally and internationally.

Clement started drawing at the age of five as a means to communicate and to amuse himself. Over the years, he got better at his craft, thanks to the tireless efforts of his parents, Ooi Bee Lam and Annie Kam, to provide him with every opportunity to excel.

Clement, who has a photographic memory, takes delight in etching every intricate detail of his subject. His series on the popular ornamental plant, Heliconia, is a case in point. In capturing the essence of Heliconia Rostrata or commonly known as Hanging Lobster Claw, Clement pencilled every single vein of the leaves and stems and splashed the cascading flowers in blazing red.

The sharp contrast created by the juxtaposition of sketching in charcoal and painting with acrylic, showcases his ingenuity in bringing out the best in the two different styles of expression.

Clement employs the same technique with his series on orchids with equally stunning results. He painstakingly inked every line on the petals and stems in black and added a hint of colour to the lips of each flower. The deliberate, prudent use of colour against a backdrop of black and white etching, highlights the loveliness of the prized tropical blooms.

The wow factor continues with his latest works on ornate leaves with their array of pigments and shapes. The pattern of the veins is brilliantly captured on canvas. Nothing escapes his eyes. The interplay of hues, the contours of foliage and even the very outline of each stoma on every leaf, are explicitly and splendidly rendered.

Autistic artistry: Clement Ooi with one of his paintings

Clement may have inherited his artistic streak from his mother who enjoyed her share of accolades for her painting of flowers during her school days,

It is to her credit that Clement has developed his signature detailed drawings of plants. “During my walks, I am usually on the look-out for leaves, flowers and even weeds which I think Clement would take delight in drawing,” says Kam.

But Clement’s talent is not limited to painting plants. He is just as adept at sketching with live models as he is with his animated drawings of his favourite cartoon character, Pokemon.

Clement also dabbles in abstract painting and embellishes the frenetic pace of city life with his kaleidoscope of buildings and people.

It may be difficult to pinpoint which genre Clement belongs to but one thing is certain: his art is his way of communicating with the world.

While Clement may be spontaneous when it comes to his craft, he is less so with words because he has autism, a learning disorder that can affect communication and social skills. Clement’s capability inspires families with autistic children, giving them hope to contend with a society lacking in support services for those with learning difficulties.

“When Clement was diagnosed at age three, there was little information on autism. But in time, we connected with other affected families and rallied behind each other,” recalls Kam.

Although his years in primary school were very trying for the family as there was no interventional therapy available for students with autism, the Oois remained steadfast in seeking help for their son.

Kam is a driving force literally as she ferries Clement around to fuel his passion for art, while ensuring that he makes time for school and recreational activities such as bowling. Clement also joins a theatre club for the learning disabled.

His talent did not go unnoticed. Four years ago, lawyer-cum-art gallery owner Kerk Boon Leng took an instant liking to Clement’s art and hosted his first solo exhibition in 2007.

Kerk, who owns Meusse Fine Art in Kuala Lumpur, speaks passionately about Ooi’s works. “Clement is first and foremost, a gifted artist. His autism is secondary. He is an artist – an exceptional one at that– who happens to have autism,” he contends.

With the benefit of more than 20 years of experience in buying and viewing paintings, Kerk has arrived at a point where he feels art should simply be enjoyed because it is pleasing to the eye. And he believes Clement’s art falls in this category. “There is a danger when art critics attempt to over-analyse and try to second-guess that the artist is conveying some deep, hidden meaning in his art,” he says.

Two years after he held his first solo exhibition, Clement is now hosting his second one in Damansara Kim, Petaling Jaya, Selangor. Over 30 pieces of his masterpieces are exhibited.

As he celebrates his art and adulthood, Clement is learning how to dance and play the drum. It would be interesting to see how he would capture the movements and mood should he choose to put them on canvas.

Clement’s work can be viewed at www.clement and

One Voice is a monthly column which serves as a platform for professionals, parents and careproviders of children with learning difficulties. Feedback on the column can be sent to

For enquiries of services and support groups, please call Malaysian Care (% 03 90582102) or Dignity & Services (TEL: 03-77255569). E-mail:

One Voice December 2, 2009

Wednesday December 2, 2009

Growing numbers

One Voice by PANG HIN YUE

With the increasing number of children having learning difficulties in an education system not ready to cope with them, private entities are offering alternatives.

WITH the prevailing culture of measuring a student’s worth by the number of As scored in examinations, clinical psychologist Dr Alvin Ng Lai Oon is seeing more patients with learning, emotional and behavioural issues.

For students who are unable to grasp the basic writing and reading skills in an education system void of interventional therapies, the sense of failure is further heightened by the teachers’ indifference and the non-conducive home environment. Fear, anxiety and stress rob students of the joy of schooling, says Ng.

“The lack of access to therapy and failure to intervene will cause even more psychological problems, particularly for those who live in rural areas,” observes Ng, senior lecturer in clinical psychology at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s Faculty of Allied Sciences.

An autistic child playing outdoors. Children with learning disabilities can be helped with the right therapy.

In an analysis spanning a period of five years from 2002-2006, Ng and his colleagues noted that 61% of the total of 792 patients who sought treatment at the UKM Health Psychology Unit clinic, comprised children and adolescents. More than 80% had diagnosis of learning disabilities, developmental disorders and behavioural problems.

In 2006, the clinic recorded the highest number of cases, whereby nearly 86% of the 268 patients were found to have learning disorders such as autism, attention deficit and dyslexia.

“The trend remains the same for the past three years,” says Ng.

The global increase in learning disabilities means that it is no longer a fringe issue. Twenty years ago, there was only one in 10,000 with a diagnosis of autism, a brain disorder that affects learning, communication and socialisation. Today, the Centre for Disease Control estimates that 1.5 million people suffer from some form of autism. That is, one in every 150 has some features of autism.

In the United States, over 500,000 individuals under the age of 21 have autism. According to the US Education Department, persons with autism account for 10%-17% of the student population.

In Britain, the scenario is similar. Based on Cambridge University’s Autism Research Centre, 1% of primary school-aged children in England has been diagnosed with autism.

While there is no comprehensive data in Malaysia to ascertain the exact number of persons with learning disabilities as registration with the Social Welfare Department remains a voluntary act, it is a growing concern. Going by the United Nations’ yardstick, 10% of a population is learning disabled. If so, there should be at least 2.4 million in the country. But as of May 2008, only 229,325 persons had registered with the department.

Still, it cannot be denied that the number of learning disabled is increasing, as indicated in a paper presented by the Director of Special Education division, Bok Muk Shin, at the National Conference on Disability 2008.

Bok points out that 84% of the 1,000 special education programmes for primary schools is devoted to the learning disabled, while the remaining 16% is for the visually and hearing impaired. Similarly, 88% of the 479 special education programmes for secondary schools is allocated for the learning disabled.

The Education and Health Ministries must also make concerted efforts to address the problems, says Ng.

Despite the repeated appeals by parents to the Government to make therapies available in schools, nothing much is happening at the ground level. Thankfully, there is a now a steady increase in the number of private centres which provide alternatives to students who otherwise would had fallen through the cracks in the education system. These include Shine Child Guidance Centre and Nilai International School.

Still, parents have to persevere and take a leaf from the British experience in pushing for the cause of the learning disabled.

Through the sheer hard work of the parents there, the British Parliament passed the Bill for Autism Act on Nov 12. With it, the British government and the local authorities there are legally bound to ensure the community receives support and services.

Clearly, the Malaysian education system needs to be revamped to take into account the rising number of students with autism and other learning disorders. Procrastinating will only increase the social and economic costs in the long run. Moreover, not all Malaysians can afford private schooling for their special needs children. The onus is on the elected government to provide such a service.

> One Voice is a monthly column which serves as a platform for professionals, parents and careproviders of children with learning difficulties. Feedback on the column can be sent to For enquiries of services and support groups, call Malaysian Care ( 03-9058 2102) or Dignity & Services ( 03-7725 5569). E-mail:

One Voice October 14, 2009

Wednesday October 14, 2009

Hearty rhapsody


An ensemble of children with autism will make its debut at a fund-raising concert in December, thanks to the commitment of two psychologists and the generosity of a music teacher.

WITH some corrugated paper boxes, tambourines and drumsticks, Takeo Miyoshi got a group of children to beat according to the tune of Chan Mali Chan as his wife, Naoko Miyoshi, played the keyboard.

Although they were not exactly in sync, Takeo continued enthusiastically to get the children numbering 20, with ages ranging from six to 14, to play. As trained clinical psychologists, each with more than 20 years of teaching experience in Japan, the Miyoshis were just glad to get the children engaged even though at times, they missed the beat.

Takeo, a percussionist and Naoko, a double bass player, believe that children, regardless of their degree of disability, should be given a chance to learn in various media, including music.

All together now: Takeo Miyoshi strongly believes that children, regardless of their degree of disability, should be given a chance to learn in various media, including music.

“Music is an effective way to help non-verbal children to communicate. Music evokes emotions and hence, helps them express their feelings. It is a great way to bring people together and connect,” explains Takeo, who is helping to put together an ensemble of children with autism for a fund-raising concert.

Entitled Give Hope, Give Life, the year-end concert is organised by the Opus Academy of Music.

Takeo is on a three-year sabbatical to accompany Naoko who works as a special education teacher at the Japanese School of Kuala Lumpur.

Every fortnightly Saturday, the Miyoshis would gather the children at Opus Academy of Music in Sunway, Petaling Jaya, to practise for their December debut. The concert will also showcase the talents of the academy’s students and teachers. The proceeds will go towards Parents Resource for Autism (PR4A), a support group for affected families.

Besides getting the children to drum in unison, Takeo is also coaching Liang Yihui, 18, to be the main keyboardist for the performance. Liang, who was diagnosed with autism at the age of three, has been taking piano lessons at the academy for the past three years.

Anne Lee, the academy’s principal, decided to open up the place to the Miyoshis to reach out to families with autism because she, too, strongly believes that children with learning disabilities should be given the opportunity to learn how to play musical instruments.

“Since we set up this academy 10 years ago, we notice a steady rise in the number of students with learning disabilities. Some parents do not know their children have problems until they enrol them. Usually, one out of 10 will have some learning problems and we need to be honest with parents when dealing with such matter as we want to see positive changes in the child,” says Lee.

As a certified early childhood music educator, Lee maintains that the sooner the affected children get help, the better the outcome for them.

“We owe it to the children to get the earliest possible interventions,” she adds.

For the affected families, it is heartening to know that the academy accepts their special needs children. In courses which involve group participation such as “Creative Kids” (for ages three to five), and “Music Adventure” (five- to seven-year-olds), the academy admits one child with special needs in each group. By being inclusive, the other students and parents learn acceptance and compassion.

To augment the academy’s support for special needs students, Lee says courses on child development are conducted from time to time so that parents and teachers have a better understanding of the subject.

Parents like Marina Lim literally go the extra mile and drive 20km from her house in Rawang to Sunway so that her daughter can participate in the concert. The Miyoshis’ egalitarian approach and Lee’s generosity in allowing the students access to the academy’s facilities, prompted Lim to sign up Jeanie Ng, 13, for the upcoming concert.

“The Miyohsis are equal opportunity teachers. They welcome children warmly irrespective of their level of ability. As a parent with a special needs child, I really appreciate that,” says Ng.

Sandy Lim whose children, Sean Ng, 12, and Tynia Ng, 11, are also part of the ensemble, concurs. “What I like about the set-up is that every child is given a chance to perform. Whether the children are musically gifted or have prior exposure to music therapy is immaterial. The only criterion is parents’ commitment to ensure their children attend all the practices,” says Lim.

The fact that the room is packed with parents rooting for their children each time the practice is held, is enough to assure Lee and the Miyoshis that they are hitting the right notes.

Give Hope, Give Life concert will be held at Dewan Sivik MPPJ, at 7pm on Dec 13. Tickets are priced at RM30, RM50 and RM80. For details, contact Opus Academy of Music at No.8 & 10, Jln PJS 9/2, Bandar Sunway, 46150 Petaling Jaya ( 03-5632 6303 / e-mail: / website:

One Voice is a monthly column which serves as a platform for professionals, parents and careproviders of children with learning difficulties. Feedback on the column can be sent to For enquiries of services and support groups, call Malaysian Care ( 03-9058 2102) or Dignity & Services ( 03-7725 5569). E-mail:

One Voice April 8 2009

Wednesday April 8, 2009

Drumming up support


In conjunction with the United Nations’ annual Autism Awareness campaign, persons with autism will be performing in a concert hand-in-hand with the stars come May 8.

WHEN it comes to lending a hand to special needs groups, musician Edwin Nathaniel never misses a beat. Although he has a tight schedule, Edwin, the front man of the legendary Aseana Percussion Unit (APU), is determined to make time for his pet projects.

“I have always enjoyed doing social work through church and other community groups. Besides, I love kids,” says the father of two. So when he was approached by one of the members of the support group Parents’ Resource for Autism (PR4A) on the possibility of training and performing with their autistic children, Edwin did not hesitate.

Although it is his first time working with persons with autism on drums and percussions, he is no stranger to teaming up with other special needs groups.

For the past eight years, Edwin has been teaching students at the Selangor and Federal Territory Spastic Children’s Association (SCAS) in Petaling Jaya on a weekly basis to get them into the groove of creating their own unique brand of music with drums, percussions and even cooking utensils.

APU started out as an ensemble of four in 1998 and over the years, the band has expanded to encompass a culturally diverse group of musicians numbering 11. It earns the distinction of being the band that creates its own music with a fusion of jazz and ethnic music, using a myriad of drums and percussions.

Edwin Nathaniel of Aseana Percussion Unit teaching students with autism in a drum circle.

“APU wants to spread the joy and fun of playing drums,” says Edwin. “Drumming brings people together. It creates a bond. There is a no hierarchy, no power play. You don’t need to be a drummer or musician to be in our drum circle. As long as your heart is beating, you’ve got the rhythm.”

Edwin’s passion for drums prompted him to approach SCAS and offer APU’s services. Week after week, Edwin and his team kept at it.

In 2000, they formed Rhythm Support to reach out to more special needs people. They pioneered the Rhythm Interactive Spastic Enabler Programme (RISE) which revolves around the idea of having fun while making music using instruments such as congas, shakers, bells, hand drums, tabla and kompang.

“It is a form of music therapy as it incorporates exercises to help improve body movement and co-ordination,” explains Edwin. It is also done in an interactive manner to instil team spirit, discipline and self-confidence. It is hoped that through various ways of engaging special needs students, they will develop an appreciation for music and create their own beat.

APU has since extended its services to coaching the visually and hearing-impaired, and residents in old folk’s homes.

The good works of APU have not gone unnoticed. APU won the 2006 BOH Cameronian Award for its innovative music and earned a trip to Britain, sponsored by the British Council. There, Edwin witnessed first-hand how the creation of music through the blending of rhythms and sounds in drum circles, can serve as a form of therapy to bring cheer to patients in hospitals.

Another break followed when the Ministry of Unity, Culture, Arts and Heritage sponsored Edwin’s trip to Hawaii in 2006 to attend a facilitators’ training course at the Village Music Circle. Edwin learnt how to teach music to both special needs and regular children in a community-based setting.

Till this day, Edwin keeps in touch with like-minded musicians worldwide through the Drum Circle Group to share his experience and to gain fresh insight into drawing the community together, using music as a tool to bind them.

Edwin will be teaming up with 15 students with autism to hold a concert next month to raise money for PR4A. Themed Hand in Hand with the Stars, the concert will be held at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre from May 8 to 10.

“We have a month to practise and we are confident that if we do it with an element of fun, the students will enjoy it,” says Edwin, adding that he is working with his teammate, Paul Lau, to bring the concert to fruition.

PR4A president K.C. Lim says the money raised will go towards the support group’s plan to set up centres in the Klang Valley, Ipoh, Penang and Malacca to train parents in various forms of therapy. This will empower parents to take charge and cut down on the cost of hiring consultants.

“We are working towards setting up one-stop centres to help parents learn the various forms of therapy,” says Lim. “Then they can train other parents and provide the kids with access to different types of intervention. These training sessions are targeted at parents who can’t afford to enlist experts to provide therapy for their children.

“We are proposing to hire experts in their respective fields such as Applied Behaviour Analysis, Sensory Integration and Occupational Therapy to train parents,” says Lim.

To date, PR4A had raised RM100,000 from last year’s art exhibition and fund-raising dinner themed Artists with Autism: Awakening, Aspiring, Attaining that was held in conjunction with the United Nations’ inaugural Autism Awareness campaign.

The support group hopes to repeat a similar feat this year by raising money through the concert and an art exhibition entitled Artists with Autism 2009 at Sunway Pyramid shopping mall from April 21 to 28. Paintings, pottery and artworks done by persons with autism will be on sale.

“Our ultimate aim is to empower parents to be both teacher and therapist to their children. We hope more experts and artistes will come forward to work hand-in-hand with us to help our children realise their full potential,” adds Lim.

Those interested in attending Hand in Hand with the Stars concert at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre from May 8-10, please contact Ticketpro Malaysia / Ticket Hotline (03-7880 7999 / 03-7880 4992 / fax no: 03-7880 8266 / e-mail: