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A Day in the Life of a NASOM Caretaker
Publish Date: 8 September 2015

First published by Suria KLCC on September, 2014.

Almost 30 employees of the Suria KLCC group visited the NASOM (The National Autism Society of Malaysia) Centres in Titiwangsa, Setapak and OUG. Split into 3 groups, we were at the centres to experience firsthand a day in the life of a NASOM caretaker.

Before going down to the NASOM centres we were given a crash course on:
1. What is the Autism Spectrum Disorder.
2. How to manage an autistic child.
3. How do we incorporate learning into everything that we do with the child.

With these lessons in mind we were ready to be a caretaker for the day (or so we thought). As with every new experience taking care of an autistic child is no easy task let alone handling a classroom.

Each autistic child is an individual and there is no cookie cutter approach to managing or teaching them. There is one golden rule however – regardless of how they express themselves when speaking to them, you must establish eye contact (no matter how brief) so that they know you are talking to them.

In the class we were assigned to we had 3 children, Anis (5 yrs old) who was the sweetest little girl and a real chatterbox. She would be singing and talking while coloring her artwork, playing with the puzzles or her toys. Naila who is 7 years of age, is non-verbal, made brief eye contact and did not show any signs of interest when you spoke to her, however when we did play briefly she could place cups into one another from smallest to biggest and understood every word you said to her. Last but not least there is Tacanamorhti, a 7 year old boy, who as we were told, could speak but would not do so when strangers are around. I felt a real sense of accomplishment when after spending an hour with him working on puzzles, coloring and playing with blocks he finally spoke by counting to 11 when we were playing on the see saw.

When working as a caretaker at the NASOM centres we saw the qualities that a caretaker should have: patience to work with each child individually, a firm discipline and most of all the passion for the job. Working with the caretakers for a day we left the centres with a newfound respect for what they do and encourage organizations, groups and individuals to contact NASOM and volunteer at the centres for a day. Your one day with the children could change their lives and yours.

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