Autism mapping project to help policy-making

|     Danial Norjidi     |

AN autism mapping project for the ASEAN region is currently being conducted by the Asia-Pacific Centre on Disability (APCD).

Details on the project were shared by Project Manager of the Autism Mapping Project in the ASEAN Region for the APCD Pongwattana Charoenmayu during an interview with the Bulletin.

The project manager spoke on the sidelines of a visit to the Society for the Management of Autism Related issues in Training, Education and Resources (SMARTER) Brunei Edge Centre yesterday.

“I come here because the ASEAN Secretariat created the autism mapping project in the ASEAN region,” he said.

“Many countries don’t know about autism. That is why many countries do not collect data about how many people have autism or are autistic.”

He said that data is needed for policy development, and explained that the ASEAN Secretariat created this project to encourage every country in ASEAN to collect data through their governments.

“This will be divided into two parts,” he said, noting that the first part will encourage government bodies to collect data about persons with autism in their country, to get a good picture of the situation of people with autism in their respective countries.

“Then we will compile every data from each country to become the regional profile of the ASEAN, in order to let the world know what happened about autism in ASEAN member countries, and then we will try to get improvement of the situation.”

He noted that the other part of this project pertains to foundations and social organisations of autism, and added that ASEAN would like to support these social organisations in two activities.

“The first activity is that they would like to encourage or support these kinds of foundations to organise the national awareness day about autism in order to let other people realise what happens with autism in the country, and let the governments know, and in other countries also.”

“The other important activity is that the ASEAN Secretariat would like to encourage these foundations or these social organisations to organise national workshops for policy recommendations, in order to make recommendations to the governments or the relevant authorities, and also the policy recommendations to ASEAN or to the international organisations on what they should do.”

He added that they visited the SMARTER Edge Centre to learn about the organisation.

Meanwhile, SMARTER Brunei President Malai Haji Abdullah bin Malai Haji Othman highlighted the need for up-to-date, consistent and accurate statistics with regards to the number of people with disabilities and people with autism in the country.