The 6th Brunei National Conference on Autism began yesterday morning at the Civil Service Institute with the theme “Don’t DIS the Ability” which advocates the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) as an ability, an advantage and as strength.
“Time is our enemy,” stated Malai Haji Abdullah bin Malai Haji Othman, President of SMARTER Brunei, at the three-day conference. “Our programs would be obsolete in six months if we don’t bring in outside people for new ideas,” he added as he reiterated the necessity of the annual conferences in improving their services and methodologies.
The Society for the Management of Autism-Related Issues — In Training, Education and Resources, more commonly known as SMARTER Brunei, was established in September 2001 and has since been fervently advocating their cause.
The speakers L to R: Debbie Smith, Peter Hill, Yvette Cook, Joanna Zeitz, and Verity Bottroff
One of the main objectives of the conference is to review the SMARTER STEP program and discern its relevance in the developmental process of individuals with Autism (IWA).
The STEP program is a holistic approach to seven essential, independent living skills designed to support, assist, facilitate and enhance the development of TWA through real activities in a real environment. The “cradle to grave” seamless journey to independence provides an intensive programmer for early childhood, teenagers and adults.
In yesterday’s session, invited speaker Yvette Cook presented a paper on the most common issues of food refusal and allergies, as well as sleep issues faced by IWA and their families.
Meanwhile, Debbie Smith spoke to parents, teachers and other participants on developing communication through alternative methods.
Other invited speakers during the duration of the conference are Associate Professor Dr Verity Bottroff, Vice President of Autism South Australia; Joanna Zeitz, specializing in cognitive behaviors therapy and Manager of the Adult Services for Autism in South Australia; and Peter Hill, Pharmacy Dispensary Manager at Gosford Hospital in NSW .Australia with particular interest in the area of Autism.
The conference will end tomorrow with the hopes of achieving their vision of an Autism Friendly Society that will enable IWA to adapt and live independently through the home, school and community, as well as the public and private sector. — by Narissa Noor