Imagine a one-stop place lovingly and specially created to provide affordable therapy, support and play for children with autism.
We Rock The Spectrum Kid’s Gym (WRTS), an inclusive play gymnasium in Ara Damansara, recently launched a programme called ‘Therapy Through Play’, featuring fun and friendly sessions for children with special needs. Crucially, the sessions will also include the occupational therapy these children require, and at half the price of what parents would usually pay.
Recently launched by Y.B. Khairy Jamaluddin, Member of Parliament for Rembau, and his wife, WRTS co-owner Nori Abdullah, this programme also includes incredible partners: multi-disciplinary children’s centre The Energy Source, the National Autism Society of Malaysia (NASOM) and The Autism Cafe Project.
Making therapy accessible for all
The motivation to establish TPP came from Nori’s own experiences as a mother to a child with autism. Her second son, Timor Abdullah, requires occupational therapy up to six times a week, and she said she greatly understood the importance of early intervention.
Nori said she was thankful for being able to afford her son’s therapy, but acknowledged the fact that affordability and accessibility to the suite of therapies required for a special child could be a real challenge for the average Malaysian. This included occupational therapy, speech therapy and physiotherapy, among others.
In his speech at the launch, Khairy also emphasised the importance of early intervention made possible with early diagnosis. “If your child has a developmental challenge, seek a diagnosis immediately and explore early intervention. There should not be any denial syndrome among Malaysian parents,” he said, urging for more awareness in the country about this topic.
What is Therapy Through Play (TTP)?
Combining WRTS’s specialised gym equipment and The Energy Source‘s expertise in occupational and sensory integration therapy, TTP will see a customised programme developed for the needs of each child and their parents or guardians. The inclusive play gymnasium said it had seen positive results for children with special needs who regularly use gym equipment with the right support. This helped in the reduction of the children’s anxiety and increased their social interaction with others.
How Can My Child Enter the Programme?
If you have a child you think will benefit from the programme, here is what you need to do:
Set an appointment for a free screening by a qualified therapist at WRTS, Ara Damansara.
Cost: An entry fee of RM48 is applicable.
2. Customised programme
The therapist will design a customised four-month programme for each parent and child. The therapist will also train the parent/guardian to conduct the sessions independently so that therapy may continue without the therapist present. The objective of this is also to strengthen the bond between parent and child. At the end of four months, a review of the child’s progress will be conducted.
Cost: RM282 for the customised programme and three sessions with the therapist.
3. Access to WRTS
The programme requires access to WRTS at least once a week.
Cost: Instead of paying RM48 each time, WRTS offers an affordable package of RM336 for 11 visits.
Outreach for underprivileged children
Nori and Khairy said the gym would also assist underprivileged families with special needs children. WRTS has successfully raised funds to sponsor one cycle of TTP for 50 children. “Therapy can be life-changing, but it is expensive. In Kuala Lumpur, it can cost anywhere between RM150 to RM300 to see a specialist. This is beyond what is affordable for most people,” Nori said at the launch.
To be eligible for sponsorship, the child would need to meet the following criteria:
- A Malaysian citizen living in the Klang Valley
- Between the age of 3 to 12 years
- The child has an OKU card or an official diagnosis of developmental delay
- Total household income below RM4,000 per month
Challenges for young adults on the spectrum
The launch also saw the inclusive gym addressing another great challenge for those with autism – gaining employment. WRTS is therefore supported by the Autism Cafe Project, which was established in 2016 by Mohd Adli Yahya, a father to an autistic child.
The cafe provides an avenue for youths with autism to achieve independence. With a cafe operating in Puchong that is run by young adults on the spectrum, the cafe also does catering for events. In addition, they sell baked cookies, handicrafts and printed T-shirts.
Through the launch of Therapy Through Play, WRTS ultimately hopes that any Malaysian child who needs therapy will have access to it. Their goal is to help these special children and their families achieve possibilities they may never have thought possible.