KUCHING: The shortage of certified professionals to handle programmes for individuals with special needs, particularly autism, will be raised with the Ministry of Education (MoE).

Women, Family, and Community Development (KPWKM) Minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri, said the ministry will discuss and provide recommendations to the MoE to bring this issue before the cabinet for action.

“We at KPWKM consistently advocate for these issues, not only in Sarawak but nationwide. It is essential for government agencies, private sectors and non-governmental organisations to collaborate in organising autism awareness programmes.

“We aim to assess the nation’s requirements and strategically plan assistance tailored to specific needs. KPWKM can offer support through grants and we welcome professionals and private sectors interested in conducting intervention programmes,“ she said at the launch of Autism Empowerment Weekend 2024 hosted by Let’z Play Therapy Centre here today.

Earlier, at the event, Nancy highlighted that autism is a developmental disorder affecting early childhood, stemming from neurological impairments that impact communication, social interactions and individual behavior.

“Studies have shown that early intervention can significantly enhance learning, social skills and emotional development among individuals with autism.

“With proper guidance, support, access to quality education and skills training, they can lead independent lives and pursue productive employment opportunities,“ she said.

The two-day Autism Empowerment Weekend at the Borneo Cultural Museum provides parents, caregivers and the community with insights into autism, emphasising accurate diagnosis, effective management strategies, enrolling autistic children in suitable programmes and building supportive networks to empower Sarawak’s autism community.