Multiple efforts have been made to increase access to education and job opportunities for the autistic.
On this front, the Society for the Management of Autism Related issues in Training, Education and Resources (SMARTER) Brunei plays an active role in stemming work discrimination against autistic adults, with one of its initiatives being the introduction of BJAK Café in June 2021.
SMARTER Brunei President Pengiran Zamri bin Pengiran Haji Bujang said this at the SMARTER Brunei Charity Carnival 2022 yesterday, which was launched by Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Awang Haji Nazmi bin Haji Mohamad.
“Many autistic individuals still face the same challenges of integrating into society without judgement, but there have been promising results,” the president said, before calling on the public to better understand autism and exercise kindness. Parents were also urged to seek early intervention for their children – as deemed necessary.
Pengiran Zamri said SMARTER Brunei runs three centres dedicated to autistic individuals of all ages.
At present, there are 115 registered members, supported by between 40 and 50 staffers.
A minimum monthly budget of BND50,000 is required to run its operation, a sum that the non-profit organisation (NGO) struggles to meet on a regular basis.
The struggle has exacerbated following the COVID-19 pandemic, which disrupted routines and services at the centres, indirectly affecting the organisation’s efforts to raise funds to maintain the facilities.
Fund-raising events such as the charity carnival, help to keep SMARTER Brunei afloat, allowing it to continue catering to autistic individuals.
Meanwhile, Acting Chief Executive Officer of SMARTER Brunei Sharifah Adila Surya binti Malai Haji Abdullah touched on the reactivation of its community adaptation programme, with its main objective exposing students to outdoor social activities, allowing them to maintain a healthy emotional state and better understand social rules.
The charity carnival is the first of its kind organised as a fundraiser. The two-day fun-filled event is open to the public.