“Hi! Hi! Hi!” exclaimed Arif Adil Isham as he jumped around excitedly in a dimly lit room, all the while under the watchful eye of his teacher. Arif – who has autism spectrum disorder – is one of over 60 students at the Special Children Society of Ampang (SCSOA); a centre that cares for children with special needs to equip them with the skills necessary to be a part of society.
“He is a very friendly child and is always excited to meet people and make new friends,” said Ayu Najwa, fondly known to her students as Cikgu Ayu. “Every now and then though, we bring him here into the sensory room to calm him down.” Wholly funded by Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) Malaysia, the sensory room is a safe space for children who are intellectually and developmentally challenged and comes furnished with multi-sensory equipment from the UK – designed to stimulate the five primary senses of Sight, Sound, Touch, Smell and Taste in a trusted and relaxed atmosphere.
In celebration of RMHC’s silver jubilee, theSun takes its readers on a journey to discover the charity’s work in enriching the lives of underprivileged children and helping them achieve their full potential.
FOR BRIGHTER DAYS
Operating out of an urban residential neighbourhood in Ampang today, the SCSOA started out as a play group founded by president of SCSOA, Christine Wong.
“SCSOA first started out as a play group for children with special needs–including my own daughter– that I formed with a few other parents. Back then, there weren’t many places for us to turn to; for information, for encouragement and most importantly, for support,” said Christine. “As our play group continued to grow, we eventually decided to open a centre that was better equipped to handle the needs of our children.
The process to getting our own place was a struggle; nobody wanted to take us in as they generally shy away from housing people who are developmentally challenged. We had to search high and low before finally settling in our own sanctuary here in Ampang. But it’s all worth it in the end.”
“We truly owe our very existence and success today to the steadfast support we’ve received along the way; from fellow parents to other members of the public, the government to organisations like RMHC,” added Christine. “We are particularly grateful to RMHC for not only providing the sensory room but also including us in their many other activities that involve the children.”