PASIR GUDANG, April 2 — Early intervention can boost the chance of children with autism becoming independent adults, according to the Johor Autism Children’s Association.

Its chairman Ruwinah Abdul Karim said parents need to be more alert should they see a change in behaviour of their children as well as immediately seek advice and treatment from experts.

“Parents with autistic children need to have a change in mindset about autism. There are still a handful of parents who feel ashamed of it and tend to hide their children due to the social stigma against those with autism.

“With early intervention, we are able to equip individuals with autism with basic skills so that they can live independently when they reach adulthood,” she told reporters after the World Autism Day celebration, here today.

She said signs of autism such as prefer to play alone, speech delay and do not respond when their name is called, can be detected as early as 18 months of age.

Ruwinah, who is also the Head of Clinical Therapist at the Penawar Hospital, said so far, about 300 parents had registered with the association since it was established three years ago.

Meanwhile, a father of an autistic child, Ridzuan Zainudin, 32, said his son, Amar Dzakwuan was diagnosed with autism when the boy was two years old.

“It was in 2000, he did not respond to his name and also had a speech delay. I immediately brought him to see a specialist who then confirmed that my child has an autism diagnosis. Since then my son has been undergoing three types of therapy namely speech, water and equine-assisted therapies.

“Alhamdulillah, he can talk now. My advice for other parents is, never feel ashamed and don’t live in denial. Take your children to see the specialist and do treatment and undergo therapies for their own benefit,” he said. — Bernama