Sunway Putra Mall introduces Malaysia’s first autism-friendly mall

The ‘Calm Room’ provides a quiet and comfortable space to play. — Picture courtesy of Sunway Putra Mall
The ‘Calm Room’ provides a quiet and comfortable space to play. — Picture courtesy of Sunway Putra Mall

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 28 — Sunway Putra Mall raised its efforts to show support for people suffering from Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) by making their mall autism-friendly.

“Autism is Awesome” or “Autsome” for short, was launched on Tuesday as an initiative to raise awareness for ASD.

“Many people are still in the dark about autism, whenever a child screams in a shopping mall, people dismiss it as bad behaviour,” said Sunway Putra Mall general manager Phang Sau Lian in a press release.

In Malaysia, there are more than 300,000 people on the autism spectrum with 1 in 68 Malaysians diagnosed with ASD.

So, people know of it, but not many know what autism actually is.

ASD is a neurobehavioral condition that includes impairments in social interaction, language and communication skills.

These are just to name a few, as ASD has a range of symptoms to it.

Autistic individuals face a variety of challenges in shopping malls as they are often filled with a crowd of people, play loud music and have many bright flashing lights.

Being in these kinds of situations can be uncomfortable even for a completely healthy person.

“To ensure our efforts are heading towards the right direction, we enlisted professional advice from two organisations, the National Autism Society of Malaysia and Autism Behavioural Centre,” added Phang.

One of the sensory walls in the mall that is designed to help autistic individuals relax. — Picture courtesy of Sunway Putra Mall
One of the sensory walls in the mall that is designed to help autistic individuals relax. — Picture courtesy of Sunway Putra Mall

Among their efforts to promote an autism-friendly environment, Sunway Putra Mall has made every Tuesday “Autism Friendly Shopping Day”, from 10am to 5pm.

The mall will provide an “Autsome” kit inclusive of a car sticker, wristband and more information about the mall’s autism-friendly facilities at the concierge counter.

There are also reserved parking spots, softer music and dimmed down lights make the mall a calmer and easier environment for people who suffer from ASD.

Apart from that, if it still gets a little uncomfortable for autistic individuals, the mall also has a “Calm Room” located at the lower ground floor and the “Sensory Wall” located at Levels 2 and 3.

A view of the ‘Calm Room’ located at the lower ground floor of Sunway Putra Mall. — Picture courtesy of Sunway Putra Mall
A view of the ‘Calm Room’ located at the lower ground floor of Sunway Putra Mall. — Picture courtesy of Sunway Putra Mall

The “Calm Room” is equipped with blankets, toys, bean bags and essential oils, to help make any flustered individual more calm and relaxed.

The “Sensory Wall” on the other hand has walls with sensory friendly textures.

The mall itself is not the only advocate for ASD however as many outlets such as Cold Storage, The Chicken Rice Shop and Swensen's have participated in making their shops more autism-friendly, and even going the extra mile to offer exclusive promotions for families with autistic individuals.

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