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Initial thoughts

When I first heard about Sunway Putra Mall’s Autism Friendly Shopping Day, I was quite skeptical. My son, Haans, is three and half, with moderate autism. Shopping with him can either be enjoyable or extremely exhausting. Autism is a spectrum after all. So, I have learned to expect the unexpected on outings.

One Tuesday morning, I chalked up the courage to bring my son to Sunway Putra Mall, by myself. Daunting and with no expectations in mind, I braved morning traffic from Shah Alam to the heart of Kuala Lumpur.

Planning the outing

A few days prior, I went to the website, to find out about the facilities available. My first thought, parking privileges available but we need to go the Concierge to pick up the kit first? So, I filled up the GoogleForm online and proceeded to send an email to inquire of the parking privileges. Within a day, I received a reply. My car details were taken, and someone from concierge offered to meet me at the parking lot with their Autsome Kit.  Sunway Putra Mall named this initiative Autsome which stands for Autism is Awesome.

Arriving at Sunway Putra Mall

I arrived rather early, hence, parking was abundant since it was also a weekday. Since my son was in good spirits, I parked at the first available lot in sight. I also thought to leave the reserved Autsome lots for others who may need it more than I.

Reserved Autsome parking bays at level B1
The Concierge at G Level, Sunway Putra Mall

Quickly, we made our way to the Concierge at G level. Walking in, I was quick to notice three very important things:

  • Lights were dimmed – an important element for some on the autism spectrum. Some experience more sensory issues than others whereby excessive lighting could disturb them.
  • Music volume was low  – I could hear music but not as loud. It was pleasant and calming. Loud sounds also tend to bother some people with autism.
  • My son remained calm  – my son was happy to enter in this new, unknown place. He is usually quite wary of new places, at times even refusing to enter. This time however, he entered happily with that curious cheeky smile of his, intent on exploring!

The Autsome Kit

We received our Autsome Kit. The friendly concierge was quick to tell us about some of the privileges we could enjoy. He pointed out key areas such as the Sensory Walls and informed us of the Calm Room available at the Lower Ground Level. At that point in time, Parenthood and the Cat Playground were offering free entry for anyone with the Autsome band on every Tuesday (provided it is not a public holiday).

Autsome Kit containing a pamphlet, parking sticker and Autsome band

The concierge kindly offered to show us around. I thanked him but preferred to explore on our own, as I had to be guided by my son’s temperament too.

So, we began exploring…

Our first stop was the Parenthood, an indoor playground. By showing the Autsome band, we were allowed in immediately.  The play area is huge! Being a weekday, we had the place to ourselves. My son was a little reluctant to enter at first but calmed down rather quickly. I noticed the area was child safe, so I did not need to restrict his movement.

Haans found his way to the ball pool at The Parenthood

I believe he enjoyed not being restricted and was quite happy to roam about freely. He took his time to explore and overall had a pleasant experience here. Next, it was time to move on…but first…meltdown number 1. He did not want to leave, so I proceeded to my usual, carry him (kicking, screaming and all), under the watchful eyes of passersby. Up the escalator we went.

The sensory walls

We arrived at the first Sensory Wall! And what a blessing it was. He was intrigued. At first, I semi-forced him to touch the different textures. There was a good mix of soft and rough textures, shiny surfaces and an assortment of shapes. Eventually, he started to explore it on his own.

There are 3 Sensory Walls in the mall on Levels 2 and 3. Positioned rather strategically along these two levels, it is a good “in-between” break for parents who are shopping with children. In fact, this wall benefits all children and can be a good distraction. The walls also gave me a chance to take a breather in between meltdowns.

Haans exploring the sensory wall after some prompting

What next?

After exploring the various Sensory Walls along the way, we went to the Cat Playground on Level 1. Here, my son enjoyed laying about on the large cushions and rolling around with the friendly cats. Interesting fact, cats can provide an avenue of positive relationships for children with autism. Cats tend to be affectionate, benefiting children with autism and their families.

The Cat Playground also works with Dr. Khew who runs Animals For Young, a centre that provides Animal Therapy and other services for individuals with special needs. Animal assisted therapy incorporates the use of animals such as horses, cats, dogs and so on. It has been an effective form of intervention for individuals with special needs such as autism.

Tactile walking path around the trampoline typically used in therapy for children with autism

Time to calm down

Needless to say, he had a ball of a time with the cats. When it was time to leave, the ultimate meltdown ensued! Rolling on the floor, kicking and screaming. It’s a blur to me, but we somehow, we made it to the “Calm Room” at the Lower Ground Level (next to Nandos).

We entered and he began to calm down as he sought comfort in soft textured pillows coupled with the “music turtle” playing calming music in the background. This room is fully equipped with sensory toys, pillows, a comfortable couch, and even a weighted blanket. It is clean and lighting dimmed which does not overwhelm someone who is already in a “tantrum mode”. It also gives the parent a chance to calm themselves down from dealing with a meltdown, or just a few minutes to catch up on messages or return important phone calls.

Why Autism Friendly Shopping Day?

We asked Sunway Putra Mall, why autism? Ms. Phang Sau Lian, General Manager of Sunway Putra Mall said,

“When we first approached this initiative, we found one thing in common amongst our colleagues; a number of us knew at least one person with autism and the challenges they face in public places like shopping malls. Thus, this project is very close to our hearts. We decided to embark on this journey to advocate Autism Awareness.”

The aim is to provide an inclusive and comfortable shopping experience while creating awareness towards increasing public understanding of autism. Sunway Putra Mall will also extend these privileges to other types of special needs in addition to autism. There are also plans for another Calm Room on Level 3 which should be ready by the third quarter of 2019. As for other Sunway Malls, the management says it is being considered.

In a nutshell

Registration is only required for the first visit. Patrons are encouraged to reuse the Autsome bands for subsequent visits. The Autsome initiative  includes the following privileges daily:

  • Access to the Calm Room at level LG
  • Sensory Walls on Levels 2 and 3

Every Tuesday 10am – 5pm (except public holidays) – Autism Friendly Shopping Day includes the following:

  • Dimmed lighting
  • Lowered volume levels
  • Reserved Parking at Level B1 (first come first serve basis). Stickers available at the concierge upon online registration online.
  • Special discounts and privileges offered by participating tenants. List available here.
  • Assistance from concierge personnel

Despite my son’s tantrums and meltdowns, it was a positive experience. The Sensory Walls certainly do create a welcomed distraction. The Calm Room is indeed a blessing too. Overall, Sunway Putra Mall has made an excellent attempt at being Malaysia’s first Autism Friendly Mall.

If your children are fans of the popular cartoon characters in PJ Masks and Robocar Poli, they are in for a great treat! Not only will they get to meet their favourites like Catboy, Gekko and Owlette, they stand to win prizes and surprises to do with LOL Surprise!, Hello Kitty and so much more at the Sunway Putra Mall this November.

Here’s what to expect at the Surprise Wonderland held at the Sunway Putra Mall’s Main Concourse (Ground Floor) from November 9 – 18th:

1. Meet and Greet the PJ Masks

If you haven’t been able to get the PJ Masks’ song out of your head and your child keeps saying she wants to be Owlette, you know you’ll have to bring them to meet their favourite characters! There will be a Meet & Greet Session with these masked heroes on the 11th of November at 12pm and 2pm, so bring your kids along for some special photographs and a little walkabout.

2. Dance Along With Robocar Poli

It’s time to boogie with the adorable members of the Robocar Rescue team! On the 17th and 18th of November, your children will be able to dance with the characters of Robocar Poli, so come around at 12pm and 2pm for some fun times.  Dancers will guide the children to dance along, so you can take those precious photos of your little dancers.

Robocar Poli Dance. Photo credit: Robocar Poli TV

3. Snap & Win with LOL Surprise

Best of all at the Surprise Wonderland? Just with a simple snap of a photograph, your child stands to win LOL Surprise! goodies they are bound to love. LOL Surprise! won the prestigious Toy of the Year Award from The Toy Association last year and was the Number 1 Toy of 2017 in the US, UK and Canada, so it’s no surprise they are an unboxing favourite.

From the 9th – 16th November, just post a picture of your child with any LOL Surprise! character at the Surprise Wonderland on Instagram.

Hashtag your photos with #lolsurprisespm on your (public) Instagram account, and you may just win the amazing MC Hammy or Eye Spy, along with a Fashion Crush or two. The contest starts from November 9 – 16 (11.59 pm), and the finalist shall be notified on November 17th. Prizes will be given out at the wonderland on November 18th at 12.30 pm.

4. Fun Daily Activities

There will also be plenty of exciting daily activities for families and children at Surprise Wonderland. Children will get to play with sand art, as well as partake in colouring activities there. There will also be 9 x 9 cube puzzles for children to try and solve, an interesting and brain-boosting way to spend their time!

As for adults, there will not only be a dim sum booth for passers-by to subscribe to dim sum (yes you read that right!), but various promotional sales on selected items. If parents are looking for a bargain, they will also get free Tobot Premiums with purchases above RM80 on Tobot items, as well as free Robocar Poli Premiums with purchases above RM80 on Robocar Poli items.

Colourful times with fun sand art.

With so many opportunities for your child to have fun at the Surprise Wonderland, remember to mark these dates down and come over to Sunway Putra Mall in November! For more information, visit their website here.

 

This is a sponsored post presented by RB Zicon Sdn Bhd.

It’s a superstar line-up of DreamWorks characters your children will go crazy for this weekend! Alex the Lion from Madagascar, Po from Kung Fu Panda, Shrek and many more will be headed to Sunway Putra Mall for a special meet-and-greet with their young fans.

Not only will you be able to take photographs with these lovable characters on Oct 13th and 14th (1pm, 3pm and 6pm), there will be plenty of other exciting activities in store.

KouKou Fun Time

Sunway Putra Mall will also be creating even more fun times to do with these well-loved DreamWorks characters with their KouKou Fun Time activities till Oct 14th. What exactly is a KouKou? They are adorable bite-sized plushies, shaped a little like dumplings! Indeed ‘kou’ is actually pronounced ‘ko’, or ‘mouth’ in Chinese.

Well now your children can create their very own DreamWorks KouKou, in a DIY Arts & Craft workshop at the mall. This will be held every weekend at 1pm, 3pm and 5pm. But don’t be late, as each workshop will be limited to 20 people on a first come, first served basis!

Fun arts and crafts for kids at this workshop.

All Day Fun

If you’re thinking of entertaining the kids on days other than the weekend, consider the DreamWorks KouKou Bowling Challenge, where winners who knock down the bowling sauce pins can take home a mystery prize.

Children and their parents can also download the DreamWorks Mobile App and scan the AR markers at the concourse to be rewarded. This could be a bonding experience for parents and their children, working together to find these markers!

There will also be a chance for kids to snap a fun photo with the KouKou characters at the photobooth. Or they can climb to the top of a ‘pancake’ to ring a bell and win a mystery prize.

More artistically-inclined children can also partake in the colouring sessions, with them colouring in official KouKou designs.

Look out for these exciting activities at the Main Concourse, Ground Floor. They will go on till Oct 14th, from 10am to 10pm at the mall. Best of all, all the activities are totally free!

Thrills for the Whole Family

Parents can treat their kids for froyo time at Llao Llao,  have kid fun size meals at Swensen’s or enjoy inspired favourite superheroes meals at DC Comic Superheroes Café.

They can also rest assured that their children will have a good time at Sunway Putra Mall, as the whole family can head to Mr Bean Adventure Kids Playland. If that isn’t enough, there is also Toy World, Choo Choo Train and the thrilling Funscape by Cobay. The kids will sleep easy after play that day!

Fancy an ‘express lane’ to meet Alex, Skipper, Shrek, Po and Mei Mei on the 13th & 14th? Register your kids as Putra Junior Club members today to be on the express lane to meet these characters. All you have to do is flash your PJC membership card  at the Meet and Greet station. There are only limited spots for this though, so hurry!

With such an array of exciting things to do for the whole family, Sunway Putra Mall will be buzzing with happy little faces. See your kids there!

 

For more information, visit here or follow Sunway Putra Mall’s Facebook page.

 

By Nellie Liang

This is a sponsored post presented by Sunway Putra Mall.