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• ASEAN Autism Network (AAN) Congress in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on 6-8 November 2022

ASEAN Autism Network (AAN) conducted its 6th Congress in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on 6-8 November 2022. The Congress was held offline with the presence of delegations from each country in ASEAN, including Asia-Pacific Development Centre on Disability (APCD) as well.


The first day of Congress was started from the arrival of delegates from each country at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA), followed by Walkabout Commences to Customer Information Counter Level 5 KLIA. After the Walkabout Commences, every delegates departed to the AVANTÉ HOTEL to Check-In.


The second day of Congress was started by from “Welcoming Address” by Mr. Cason Ong as the AAN’s Chairman, and Mr. Dato Megat Ahmad Shahrani bin Megat Sharuddin as the NASOM’s President. Then followed by “Welcoming Speech” by Ibu Dr. (H.C.) Prita Kemal Gani, MBA, MCIPR, APR as the AAN Secretary General. Next after the opening speech and greeting from Mr. Cason and Ibu Dr. Prita Kemal Gani, every country was doing their own reports, followed by presentations of their country activities.


The country reports started from Malaysia and was presented by Mr. Cason Ong from The National Autism Society Of Malaysia (NASOM). Mr. Cason Ong first talked about the latest of NASOM’s organization structures and its project activities along with the collaboration partners. Mr. Cason later mentioned that they have the movies and in the future there will be a movie titled, “A Boy Who Has Autism: The Movie.”


Mr. Cason explained the NASOM’s Programmes, including NASOM Talk such as ‘Parental Talk,’ and other seminars, then “Autism Sports Training Programme 2022,” a programme that collaborated with the Ministry of Sport, as well the social charity programmes, including the fundraising, flood relief fund, and etc.


Mr. Chan Sarin from Cambodia Autism Network explained the challenges for autism in their country, especially that autism is not identified fully by the government. Mr. Chan Sarin mentioned that in 2021 the government has republished the special education high school for autism in Cambodia, and recently they’ve got a license and an agreement from the government. Mr. Sarin also mentioned that the government has had the curriculum for 20 teachers and by the end of December this year, they’ve had the national curriculum for special education school. The school provided the level from Pre-School to the 12th grade for autism.

Mr. Sarin later stated that they need more school in the province as in Cambodia, they have 25 provinces, not only they have few provinces who providing the special education school and teacher. Then Mr. Sarin gave the conclusions to set up the inclusive school for ASD in each province stated in policy, to establish the national training, job employment and coach, social inclusion between people and autistic persons, strong network in locally and internally and, lastly the identification autism and mapping country profiles.


Ms. Pham Kim Tam from Vietnam Autism Network, along with her assistant Mr. Tran Van Ninh explained the latest statistic total numbers of PWD (Person With Disabilities) so far in Vietnam, including autism with a total of 6.2 Million PWD, but only 3 Million PWD granted the certificates. They also explained the policy of hospital in every provinces of Vietnam. They said that in different level of hospital, they have the difference of equipment and facilities rehabilitations for PWD. Unfortunately, they only have 6000 of doctors and therapies. They also discussed about the educations problems for PWD and CWD (Children With Disabilities) in their country. According to their research, they only have 600 teachers for CWD that will graduate each year and they said it’s very low, less and lack of teachers.


Ms. Pham Kim Tam and Mr. Tran Van Ninh also discussed about the challenges, their activities and trainings in their country. Mr. Tran Van Ninh said that every year, they will have some activities such as sport play, Vietnam Autism Awareness Day, provide collaboration and policy coordination with the sectors, including health, education. Also they mentioned that they will be raising the awareness by organize the congress and conference in almost every year and invite the Staff of Health, Ministry of Education. Ms. Pham Kim Tam hoped that the parents of PWD and CWD need to be understood, so the PWD and CWD could get the certificate of identification.


Later on, Dr. Samrerng (Sam) Virachanang discussed about the issues and the challenges that he has in his country based on his experiences and opportunities. He mentioned that the past 2 years, they were working to identify the mental health with Ministry of Public Health and try to sharing the social work. Dr. Sam also mentioned that they had a special school, an inclusive education for the special needs, especially for autism childrens, because autistic person is lack of social. Dr. Sam also gave suggest to not waste the time to try out the call, because they would do a time how to refer it, how to share the challenges into the opportunities.






Ms. Dang Koe from Autism Society Philippines (ASP) provided the updates from the organizations, and her country reports. Ms. Dang Koe stated that the goals of ASP are to have an accessible and an inclusive intervention, autism friendly practices and policies environment, compassionate places, more transition specialists and economic empowerment. Ms. Dang Koe was also discussing about the programmes, activities and its comparisons between before and during the pandemic, including the monthly seminars and “ANGELS WALK.” Ms. Dang Koe also gave a several challenges and advices to have to do for its organization, especially during the pandemic.


The advices are including to support the stakeholders, educate families and caregivers, educate frontliners and emergency personnel, elevate leadership skills, explore new experiences, promote well-being and achievement, champion our community, etc. Lastly, Ms. Dang Koe stated as the Autism OK Philippines and the first Autism OK ASEAN, they would like everyone to accept, accommodate, and appreciate their children on the spectrum.


Next, Dr. Adriana Ginanjar and Mr. Frederik Rotty (nicknames : “Mr. Iki”) from Yayasan Autisma Indonesia (YAI) presented the country reports. Dr. Adriana stated that they had presented their activities during the “ESCAP’s High-Level Intergovernmental Meeting Side Event” in Jakarta last month on October. Dr. Adriana then expressed some thankful and gratitude words during her tenure with YAI for more than 6 years, then she handed over her position to Mr. Iki, as the “Representative of YAI” for her replacement, and she hoped that she would still be able to participate in AAN’s activities in the future. Dr. Adriana also presented the individual’s profile of autistic persons, there are including Ananda Sukarlan and Michael Anthony Kwok along with their achievements.


Next, Mr. Thein Oak Sein from Myanmar Autism Association, who substituted Mr. Nay Myo Naing expressed the apologies for Mr. Nay, who didn’t come due to his mourning for his wife that passed away. Mr Thein said that his focus is on vocational aspect for autistic persons and he ensured that he will take a short time to visit the centres of his country and bring some of the concepts. Mr. Thein mentioned that currently in his country is having so many difficulties and crisis, including the government has an ongoing conflict with the military where the military staged a coup against the government, citing the reason of election fraud and corruption. Mr. Thein also mentioned that in his country, people were no longer be able to get the access to required facilities of healthcare as well the currencies are in freefall and massive inflation, public health sector has stopped working, healthcare and education transitioned to private sector, and many other problems and crisis in Myanmar.




Mr. Thein Oak Sein then explained before the conflict happened, the sectors for PWD have been increasing and involving the 3 ministries, namely Ministry of Health, Education, and Social Welfare to handle and provide the services for PWD. Mr. Thein that stated that the current major government services have the Child Development Centres (usually attached to hospital), but currently it’s not running away. Then, they have Community Based Rehabilitation Centres, Rehabilitation Hospital, Government Run Special Education Schools, Mental Health Hospitals, Inclusive Educations in Public Schools and Preschools, and Early Adoption of ECI (Early Childhood Intervention Programme). Mr. Thein mentioned that in their private sector is focusing on early intervention programme and it has several types of programmes, including hybrid education centres, specialized special education schools, therapy centres, psychiatric hospitals, and resource centre (A training programmes for parents who have a different aspects of autism). Lastly, Mr. Thein also discussed the needs for PWD in his country during the crisis and for the future, and he hoped that he would be able to continue for the work at AAN and expand the schools for all of the organization through the difficult times.


Ms. Malai Didi from SMARTER Brunei provided brief overview at a glance and profile for its organization, including achievements, past activities, vision, mission, goals and objectives. Ms. Malai Didi said that on 2017, they managed to open up the Bistro (or Café). The Café it’s not just any coffee, but “Asian Coffee Beans.” They also have 10 different flavour coffee beans.


Ms. Malai Didi then discussed about the programmes and services, including social, training, education and psychology. Ms. Malai Didi stated that they take the practices from around the world, then they take the best components and customize it. Then she also mentioned that they have another programmes, such as early development, continuous development, a CVT programme that they focus into having their own company employee for autistic individual. Ms. Malai Didi then discussed about the 2020-2022 Accomplishments that the organization had achieved, and she also presented the pictures for some activities, and achievements of SMARTER Brunei in the past years.


Ms. Viengsam Indavong and Dr. Thatsana Phenglawong from Association For Autism (AFA) of Lao PDR introduced their organization, as well their vision, mission and value of AFA. Ms. Viengsam Indavong then explained the “3 Main Areas and Their Objectives” that they will be focusing in the future until 2030. Three of them are advocacy, networking and cooperation at the country, regional and international level, then provide services and support to autistic people, their families, community, and the society, and lastly the organizational development. Ms. Viengsam then discussed about the “Strategic Objective 2: Services,” and in that slide, she talked about the programmes and activities.



Ms. Viengsam Indavong then talked about the current development of AFA. Ms. Viengsam stated that AFA is requesting the Ministry of Education to provide the permission to turn their unused school building into the new head of office for AFA and expansion of Vientiane Autism Centre from 66 students to 150 students in 2015. Then, AFA planned to request the Architect Association to support in design work and estimate the building cost, then AFA is also collaborating with PARC Café and developing a project proposal with CBM Global on advocacy, social and economic empowerment for autistic people, their teachers and families. Ms. Viengsam Indavong and Dr. Thatsana Phenglawong were also presented the pictures and some of videos of their activities, including sport, advocacy, etc.


Dr. Majeed Khader from Singapore Autism Network gave a background about himself and the jobs that he is working on. As the representative, his organization wanted the parents to join the AAN. Dr. Majeed said that it has quiet lot of the autistic people in Singapore and about thousands of children every year and estimated 50.000 Individuals with autism in his country with 11.500 of them are under the age 19th years old, and also estimated over 200 number of cases of newly diagnosed autistic children annually. Dr. Majeed stated that in Singapore, they have about 19 special schools, 6000 children, and government also developed “Three Ps model” (Public, Private, and People Sectors) to provide the disability services.


Dr. Majeed said that last year, they introduced the stakeholder “Enabling Masterplan 2030.” Dr. Majeed explained that one of the areas of the masterplan is learning (How support learning in the early years), including inclusive support and starting up to new early intervention centres, and the schooling years. Then, Dr. Majeed explained about the connecting for autistic people to create inclusive physical and social environments, including the training for airport staff, health quality, health guest services, public spaces, sports activities etc. He also explained the high priority areas for “AUTISM ENABLING MASTERPLAN 2021,” including quality assurance, learning and planning for life, employment and residential continuum, and planning for life after death.


Dr. Salma Khalil from Autism Spectrum Disorder Welfare Trust (ASDWT) Pakistan introduced the organization profile and the challenges that they had in the past times, and she also explained the services of its organization progress from awareness to education”, with the data was updated 6 months ago before they met at the congress. Dr. Salma also explained the training programmes of the organization, and she offered like Cambodia and the rest AAN members want them to give any online workshop session. Then Dr. Salma talked about the cooperation and association of their organization, and lastly she explained the future goals of ASDWT Pakistan.




Next, Ms. Cecile Sicam from ASP started to discuss about the employment and what it’s be done so far in their country, and she explained the brief history profile of ASP, including roadmap, vision and mission. Ms. Cecile stated that they need to provide that the institutional mechanism can get the economic empowerment, because the economic empowerment is an essential part of an inclusive society. Ms. Cecile mentioned that in 2016, the ASP’s president started a programme called “Autism Works (or AWorks).” It comprises of two major elements, namely ASP Autism works for employment, and NEGO SHOW. Then, Ms. Cecile was discussing about the programmes of each major elements. Ms. Cecile said that in ASP’s programme, they look for the persons who are already employable and who have been claimed in schools so they don’t compete with established training schools, as well they do the network with businesses, organizations and not only private companies, but also government offices to find the suitable positions in the field by their applicants.


Ms. Cecile Sicam explained the reasons why ASP included in the Autism Employment Programme, including one of the component is ‘Sheltered Workshop.’ Then, she explained the “Chocolate A” programme, In-App Training. Ms. Cecile also talked about the fundraising activities, she said not just about the talents show of their kids, but also they did an opportunity to work, and to experience the working with other people. Ms. Cecile was also talking about the ASP Autism Mall. Ms. Cecile stated that through the ASP’s Programmes, they aimed to give their kids a brighter future, and she hoped that they will be able to expand those programmes further, then she was discussing about the sensitivity trainings to the company, observation, challenges and the things that are still to be developing and previewing. Lastly, Ms. Cecile hoped that they can collaborate especially since they’ll be working with the foundations and multinational companies in the future.


Then, Mr. Cason Ong stated that they would do a handover for a new chairmanship, due to Ibu Prita Kemal Gani would be leaving earlier for another jobs and activities.


Ms. Malai Didi, along with her sister Ms. Ayla Didi shared the profile and the timeline history about the SMARTER Brunei. Ms. Malai Didi mentioned that before the SMARTER Brunei’s Café and Bistro was launched, they only had pre-vocational and vocational training, then they had to talk about open employment, supported employment, and sheltered employment. Ms. Malai stated that in SMARTER Brunei, they don’t use the “Low and High Functioning,” but “Low and High Support” instead. Ms. Malai Didi later stated that the current act is only addressing about basic, welfare, necessities, and including a fuse.





Ms. Malai Didi presented some of the videos of their activities, including the SMARTER Brunei’s Café and Bistro, bar, etc. Ms. Malai also explained about the offers and activities of other NGOs that have followed the introduction of “The Initiatives SES Support Employment for Autism and Other Disabilities as well.” Ms. Malai also mentioned that the government agencies have also introduced the multiple training opportunities. Then, Ms. Ayla Didi discussed about the challenges that faced for employment in the SMARTER Brunei, as well the future plans and challenges for its organization.


Mr. Cason Ong explained how the whole system needs to be repaired, especially in high and low functioning of autism. Then, Mr. Cason Ong talked about the latest activities of NASOM, including mushroom farming, as well the NASOM’s achievements, including “Certificate in Hospitality Management Program” that certified by Stamford College, and he also explained about the education’s scholarships, curriculum, etc that agreed and offered by the Stamford College. Mr. Cason also talked about the sustainability issues that they are facing lately and looking forward to conclude it.



Ms. Rukhsana Shah from ASDWT Pakistan discussed the challenges for autism in their country, including employment challenges, job coach or mentor that they would be able to understand. Ms. Rukhsana Shah also explained the issues in their country, especially many people with disabilities grow up in the shadow of ‘Low Expectation Syndrome.’ Ms. Rukhsana then showed the Steps to be taken in Pakistan, as well the follow up on the conference and after the conference.


Later on, Mr. Cason Ong explained the NASOM stories and brief of the challenges, especially the employment for autistic persons, as well the QnA (Questions and Answers) from every delegates to Mr. Cason.


Dr. Samrerng (Sam) Virachanang from Association of Parents for Thai Persons with Autism talked a short brief of their activities, including in Thailand, they have a series called “Corporate Social Responsibility.” Then, Dr. Sam discussed about the fundraising, as well the sustainability for PWD, including autistic people. Next, Dr. Sam explained about the “Art Story.” Dr. Sam mentioned that in Thailand, they have a slogan called, “It’s Okay to be Different.”





Dr. Sam also talked about the social enterprises as the reason, as well the skills for autistic people, and he also mentioned that they had a part of their awareness creation by working with Thai PBS (Public Broadcasting Service) with the weekly programme called, “What is Thailand Autistic?” The programme was addressed to the people who don’t know about the ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). Dr. Sam also discussed about their autistic shop, including training outside of public employment, work for convenience store, and automobile service centre, as well the autism coffee that they have in Thailand along with the activities, and the making process. Dr. Sam stated that currently, they have 40 outlets of their coffee franchise, and he mentioned that they have two brands of coffee, along with the prices. Lastly, Dr Sam also said that the main point is to find out the long term financial.


After the Congress, they held the “Executive Board Meeting.” Later on, they conducted the Gala Dinner event on the night. On Gala Dinner event, they had a special performance by NASOM Maestro. Next, they held the “Declaration by Delegates of the 5th AAN Congress Report,” and “Closing Speech” by Incoming Chair Lao PDR.


On the third day of Congress, every delegates were checking out and went a trip to NASOM. After that, the delegates returned to their home country and the congress has finished.


Nov 06 2022 - Nov 08 2022


All of the day

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