Early Intervention Programmes in Malaysia (Autism – Support Services)

It is not easy to get information on support for autism in Malaysia. I have compiled here a list of centres that offer individualised learning programme in one-to-one or group setting. I have also added a few links to other services that you may consider in addition to the standard occupational therapy services. This list is far from complete; but at the very least – you have this list to start with. I am also still learning on what’s out there.

Early Intervention Programmes

Applied Behaviour Analysis/Approach (ABA) is an individualised learning programme delivered in a one-to-one setting. It can be effective, especially if your child has a problem with focusing, i.e. has a short attention span. ABA programmes run in various frequency from half day to full day programmes. Individualised learning plan in small groups setting allows your child to improve on social skills on top of the academic focus. Each therapist may handle 2-3 (or slightly more children) at one time. Some centres only provide half day programmes.

So which one should you go for?

You will need to get your child diagnosed early and identify whether group or one-to-one is the best setup in the early years. This depends on where your child is on the spectrum and how much of a developmental gap he/she has, and which area that needed focusing on. Also if you start with one-to-one, at some point, you will need to move to a group set up or blend the one-to-one programme with a group setting so that your child continue to develop their social/communication skills with his/her peer group. Whatever it is – for ANY programme to be effective, I would personally lookout also for the following:
  • Availability of frequent parent-therapist formal connect or communication. Otherwise, it can get challenging to flex learning content quickly if there are things that are not working well.
  • Programmes with proper structure (or curriculum) – there should be some learning modules that the centre/therapists are using to coach your child, and those modules (and how they progress from basic to intermediate to advance) must make sense to you – you know your child best
  • Therapists supervision – Most of the time, you will be assigned with junior therapists. Staff turnover in this industry is rather high. You need to understand how the therapists are supervised so that you can be sure of the consistency of the therapy quality that your child is getting
  • Assessment structure – it would be good to have some periodic assessment done (like a checkpoint) so that the centre and you can benchmark your child’s development against an initial baseline. This will help you to re-focus the programme design or even consider other alternatives. Consider also some formally recognised assessments like IQ tests periodically if not provided by the centre
  • Number of therapy hours needed – whether meeting your child’s needs. 
Of course, there is also the financial factor. One-to-one learning is expensive. So perhaps it is not even an option. If that is the case, you may need to supplement a group based setup with sessions at home (basically – do-it-yourself). Again – it all depends on where your child is on the spectrum. Your centre therapists may be able to provide you with or guide you in getting materials for you to work with your child at home. There are many resources online that you can probably use for learning materials. Also, equally important – talk to other parents who probably have other alternatives or approaches that can work for your child. Of course, you should also consult professionals like paediatricians, psychologists etc on an ongoing basis.

ABA Centres

Early Autism Project (EAP)

This centre in Bangsar offers full time and half time ABA programme. You can go for centre-based or home-based programme or a combination of both. You get a team of therapists assigned to your child, and there is frequent connect between therapists and parents which allows you to jointly monitor/assess the child’s progress and see if any tweaks are needed in the programme. There are multi-level supervisions, and each level does periodic reviews with your child to assess the progress and give feedback if some further tweaks are required. Their curriculum is based on their US-based parent company’s curriculum – Wisconsin Early Autism Project. 

EAP also has group classes – social skills/life skills and others. 

Autism Behavioural Centre (ABC)

This centre, also in Bangsar also offers one-to-one individualised ABA learning programme for your child. ABC also offers half/full-time programme, either centre/home-based. ABC’s programme is supervised by its in-house Board Certified Behaviour Analyst (BCBA). 

Brightstars

Brightstars, in Ara Damansara also offers ABA programme (home and centre based) and group-based learning programmes. They also offer specific therapy programmes like Occupational therapy. 

Group Classes (with Individualised Learning Plan)

WQ Park

WQ Park offers half day (three-hour) programme (either morning or afternoon session). There is usually six to seven kids with two therapists/interventionist per class. They have two venues – in Kelana Jaya and Sri Rampai. They have in-house occupational and speech therapist that will also come in periodically and assess the children’s progress. 

Growin Sprouts

The centre is located in Jaya One, PJ. Similar to WQ Park – the offer 3 hour daily sessions – morning or afternoon. They also offer separate speech and occupational therapy services.

Other Services

If your child is also doing occupational therapy (OT) – you may want to consider other forms of physical therapy to supplement the current OT programme.

Hawary Sports Centre

I found swimming is one of the best “therapy” one can do. Being able to swim is also an essential survival skill. 

Hawary Sports Centre based in Setiawangsa offers one-to-one and group swimming classes. Hawary and his team coach children at various levels. He is trained to coach special needs children. 

Check out also:- Autism Swim

Green Apple Hippotherapy

Green Apple provides hippotherapy and therapeutic riding programmes. It is another form of occupational therapy and helps with improving the child’s balance and trunk core strength. 

It's A Long Journey

Hopefully, this will help you as a start at least, to look at what is available. Also you may find that each centre has different strengths, so you need to continuously assess whether the centre is meeting the different of stages of your child’s development needs. It’s a lot of trial and error – and that is the reality of it. I learned that the hard way. Sometimes, what works for one person doesn’t work for another. Just don’t lose hope. 

Disclaimer: This list is compiled to help parents who need information on the kind of professional support you can get in KL/Selangor area. I have not necessarily engaged the services of all the centres mentioned; and I am not guaranteeing the service quality or outcome of any of the services listed. Every child’s needs and learning behaviour is different – you will need to invest time to connect with the centres to assess whether they are able to support your child and your family.

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