Teachers and parents play a big role in ensuring the individuals with Autism are given opportunities to better themselves. Data have shown that students with Autism in the Picture Exchange Communication System Program have improved their social communication and interaction skills.

Therefore, they are now able to express themselves better and minimise challenging behaviours related to communication difficulties, which in turn will positively impact their learning. Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Indera Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Suyoi bin Haji Osman, Minister of Education made the address at the Opening of the 8th Brunei National Conference on Autism. The minister’s speech was read by Doctor Hajah Romaizah binti Haji Mohamad Salleh, Permanent Secretary of Core Education at the Ministry of Education.

Yang Berhormat Pehin said currently, there are 254 students with Autism registered with the Special Education Unit are receiving specialised learning assistance in the Individual Education Plan. There are 9 model inclusive schools under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education, which are equipped with the necessary facilities for all special needs students. Therefore, individuals with Autism are welcome and encouraged to enrol to these schools. Yang Berhormat added as there is strong evidence that early intervention has positive learning outcomes, the Ministry of Education through the Special Education Department, are also building human resources capacity by regularly conducting a number of training and professional development course.

The conference continued with a keynote address by Miss Debbie Smith, a Lecturer from the Disability and Social Inclusion Unit at Flinders University, Adelaide. Reflecting on the Flinders students’ time in the country, she said the students have gained invaluable exposure over the last three weeks to alternative solutions to Autism treatment that are not available in Australia. Themed SMARTER strategy of using the Welcoming, Inviting, Supporting and Encouraging – W.I.S.E Approach, the conference which is organised by SMARTER Brunei and Flinders University, with the support of the Australian Government’s New Colombo Plan, aims to increase awareness and acceptance of the challenges, obstacles, set back and threats faced by individuals with Autism and family members as well as SMARTER.

Source: Radio Television Brunei