Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Ido in Autismland

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Autism and the Challenge of Rapid Motor Planning and Initiation in New Situations

My high school has an old farm because it has a magnet program for intensive studies in veterinary science and agriculture. It is really nice because the students care for the animals. Over vacation we have to feed them. There are rabbits, hens, sheep, goats, a horse and a llama. The goats are intelligent and eager to escape to eat leaves. They have the same lock the sheep have on their pen. The sheep can’t open it but the goats open it with ease. To stay in, they require an additional chain and clasp lock and if it isn’t on just right, they escape.

Today was my turn to feed, water, clean and exercise the animals (that is, I exercise and clean the horse and feed and water the rest). We went to give the goats fresh water and in a flash they opened the gate and rushed out to eat leaves. They group up and run away and resist you too so it can be a struggle to get them back in, and the first ones you catch only want to escape to get back to the leaves and their friends.

I was watching this because I was with my mom who asked me to help her with the gate. I am able to do everything I need to do, more or less, but it felt frustrating today because I saw that I still react so slowly in a moment that required speed. I knew I needed to move fast because she had a goat at the gate and didn’t want to lock up the gate completely since there were more she had to put back in the pen. They struggle to get back to their leaves with great intensity and it is a pain to hold a struggling goat with one hand and fumble with a lock with the other.

Autism is an initiation disorder too. I see where I should go and I stay frozen. Doing new tasks is tough because our bodies need to learn the steps. The steps in this moment would be clear to a neuro-typical body, but not to mine. Though my mind knew what to do, it just wasn’t ready to react in time. This is frustrating personally, but perhaps even worse is that our difficulty initiating certain responses confuses many specialists who then assume we don’t understand logic and basic problem solving.
It isn’t the thinking that’s the problem. It is the ability to react and follow our thoughts that we struggle with. I see my skills have improved, because eventually I got to the gate and held it against goats pushing with all their might to escape again. In the end, we got them all back in. Maybe next time we should let them out on purpose so I can get more practice reacting to emergency situations more quickly

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Friday, January 3, 2014

SDB's annual year-end gifts to her Wisma Selangor Dredging's tenants, offers a chance for people with learning disabilities to bake with dignity.

Learn and Earn

By Pang Hin Yue, facilitator of Bake With Dignity

FOR 10 days, noise, heat, grease and sweat mingled together.

The cacophony from the whirring of electrical hand mixers and fans and the buzzing of a relatively new industrial oven, competed with the
constant pounding from the MRT works just outside the house numbered 49, Pinggir Zaaba in Taman Tun Dr Ismail.

But it was energy and time well spent as it brought smiles and a sense of accomplishment to the members of Dignity and Services, an advocacy movement working with and for people with learning disabilities.

From10am-5pm daily, under the supervision of D&S staff and volunteers,  they creamed, rolled and baked over 7,000 chocolate, butter and coffee cookies. After they packed and sealed the cookies into boxes, they went on to melt, stir and bake over 152 trays of salted caramel fudge brownies. They repeated the feat of creaming and baking with another 150 orange lemon cakes.

While melting chocolate over a double boiler was a job they were familiar with, it was a new task melting sugar to reach a temperature of 167 degrees Celcius and adding butter and cream  into the hot bubbly sugar to caramelise. It demands precise timing and patience.  Otherwise the mixture literally goes up in smoke. Sure enough there were a few batches
botched up that had to be thrown away but in the end, all was well.

The bakers who go by the moniker Bake With Dignity, have Ms Teh
Lip Kim, managing director of Selangor Dredging Bhd to thank for the opportunity to learn and earn.

This is the fourth year SDB has enlisted D&S members to bake cookies and cakes as year-end gifts to the tenants of Wisma Selangor Dredging in Jalan Ampang.

It is gratifying to see the progress bakers have made and are still making, as they gain mastery in the processes involved to make cookies and cakes.

The journey of learning applies equally to the bakers as well as the staff and volunteers behind Bake With Dignity. Truly a work-in-progress.

It is more than sourcing quality ingredients and developing delectable flavours to attract customers.

It is about how to ensure the steps are followed through, taking into account that the learning disability spectrum is broad and varied and therefore, challenging.  That includes people with a diagnosis of slow learning, Down Syndrome and autism.

Because their motor skills and learning capacity are different and with behavioural issues thrown in the mix, the ultimate quest is getting them to work together.

As the recently concluded baking marathon demonstrated, it can be done. There was no shortage of camaraderie, laughter and blooper.  It was most reassuring to see how they watched out for each other when one of them stepped out of line.

Notwithstanding a few hiccups, the deadline was met and we look forward to another year of collaboration with SDB.

Bake With Dignity bakes every
Monday. To order multigrain bread, cookies and cakes, email, text 019-2420075. Website:

BFM 89.9 interview on 7.11.2013

Josh Green, Chairman, Dignity & Services | Mettilda John, Executive Director, Dignity & Services

KLCC HIGH TEA 5th Oct 2013

Annual event happening again at KLCC on 5th October 2013. Our motto this year is " Music Move 2013" , which our members did special performance with hand percussion instrument ....

Standard Charted KL Marathon 2013!


Dignity and Services together with members from Option attended the S&C's annual KL Marathon with support of member families too. It was a beautiful Sunday where everyone was excited and did their best!

Second Session Independent Living Skills @ Options 2


 We had our second session on independent living skills at Options 2 in Taman Mayang where our members learned how to cut vegetables, cook nasi goreng, a little bit of gardening and cleaning too. It was a fun day.