Embrace Autism set to help bridge the gap between individuals with Autism and the general public

Dewan Negara Senator YB Ras Adiba Radzi, delivering the keynote address at Embrace Autism 2020 at Intermark Mall

Embrace Autism, an event that aims to bridge the gap between individuals with Autism and the general public through awareness, education and empowerment, is returning for its third instalment in the form of an exhibition. Officially launched today by Dewan Negara Senator YB Ras Adiba Radzi at Intermark Mall, the event echoes this year’s theme for Malaysia Day, ‘Malaysia Prihatin’, by inviting Malaysians to support and help create employment prospects for young people with Autism.

Open for the public from 17th till 23rd August 2020, the free-admission exhibition showcases the journeys of six individuals with autistic challenges. With the unwavering support of their parents, they found their strengths, overcame their struggles, and cultivated their abilities from a young age, to become successful.

Speaking at the launch event, Senator Ras Adiba highlighted that Autism is a life-long challenge and that emphasis should be given to identify long-term solutions.

“As the number of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) continues to rise, we are facing an overwhelming number of individuals with autism moving into and through adulthood. They often face daunting challenges as they grapple with transitioning to a new phase of life, finding appropriate support services, securing meaningful work opportunities, and building a life integrated into the broader community.”

Six inspiring autistic individuals pose for a photo-op together with Dewan Negara Senator YB Ras Adiba Radzi (centre) and the organiser of Embrace Autism, Noraza Yusof (2nd from left).

“Over the years, efforts have been made by non-profit organisations such as enabling complimentary screenings for low income families, training workshops to better equip teachers with practical skills and knowledge, and therapy programme scholarships for these children with autism and our society and corporations should come forward and play their roles,” she added.

With the evolving support system, it is expected that many on the spectrum will be employed based on their capabilities to add value and contribute essential skillsets to a company, in the future.

Muhammad Luqman Shariff, 21, demonstrating steps to make a bracelet to YB Ras Adiba Radzi

During the event, Senator Ras Adiba also launched The Embrace Autism Marketplace on Facebook, which will serve as a platform to connect autistic individuals providing products or services with companies, organisations, or individuals. The platform helps people on the Autism spectrum to build self-sufficient futures and aspires to become source for organisations to reach out and procure services offered.

Founder of Curate, the organiser of Embrace Autism, Noraza Yusof said in order to execute the exhibition smoothly, they work in collaboration with partners Intermark Mall as Embrace Autism official venue sponsors for the last three years, Headstart Academy as the resource partner, Casio Electronic Musical Instruments who has sponsored CASIO flagship piano model CELVIANO GRAND HYBRID GP-500BP for Clarence Kang’s performance during the launch, DÔME CAFÉ for the F&B support and Ablemen.

Noraza said the exhibition aims to inspire and encourage parents to discover unique talents of their autistic children. “Each story serves as an inspiration for parents facing the challenge to create a self-sufficient future for their children, by understanding and managing the children’s condition as well as honing their unique skills and talents.”

She added: “Through this exhibition, we hope more people will understand and welcome individuals with ASD in their communities as well as in the employment market, thus enabling them to become contributing members of society.”

The event also celebrates parents for their grit and dedication towards helping their children build self-sufficient futures and overcome stigmatization against individuals with autism.

The six aspiring individuals featured are:

Wan Jamila Wan Shaiful Bahri, 18, known professionally as Artjamila is an award-winning savant artist known worldwide. She turned to drawing as a tool for communication at the age of four and has since become an acclaimed artist. Her art is purely driven by her soul and her talent outshines all her limitations. Her highest achievement is being appointed by a foundation focusing on “Impact investments and sustainability” from Switzerland as their IMPACT ARTIST 2020-2022.

Clarence Kang, 22, is an extraordinarily talented young man born with autism. An autistic savant — a pianist and an artist. He is Asia’s first pianist with autism who held his own recital concert. He was diagnosed with Autism and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder). In his childhood, he easily memorized musical notes, was able to arrange and transcribe music as well as analyse complicated chords without having formal education and training.

Umar Hasfizal, 22, is an autistic artist with the rare ability to capture the hearts of his audience to accompany his wonderful musical talent and gifted voice. Besides performing at various functions, he has received both national and international recognition for his talents, successfully recorded two mini albums and was selected to become a singer for the original soundtrack of a local film that has won many international awards. 

Muhammad Luqman Shariff, 21, was diagnosed with autism at the age of 2 and became very reclusive, quiet, non-verbal and increasingly passive as he approached adolescence. Having a very supportive father that concerned on his son life skills abilities, he brought his son into the family business and today Luqman has  successfully become a café operator as he showed rapid improvement in himself by responded well to his surroundings and improved his organising skills as he learn on plans, prepares and packs food at his family café which also provides food service training to other autistic youth. 

Scoring 9As in the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia examinations is considered quite a feat for any student and is even more impressive for a teenager with special needs.M. Kisshen Raj, 18, who is on the autism spectrum, has done just that – with a lot of focus, hard work, determination, and hardly any sleep. Having autism did not stop him from excelling in his exams and working towards his dream of becoming a Chemical Engineer. He is currently pursuing a matriculation programme at Pahang Engineering Matriculation College. 

Nur Dhia Izz Ashfadina Muhammad Asrie, did not let autism hold her back from expressing her love for Malaysia as she swam 10 km across Selat Dinding in conjunction with National Day. Dhia discovered her ability to swim when she started her first aqua-therapy session to control her mood swings. Since then, she has been exposed to open water swimming and long-distance swimming, achieving outstanding performances. She is now ready to become a world-class athlete with proper training and opportunities to participate in competitions.

For more information and for the latest updates on Embrace Autism and its activities, log on to the following sites:

Facebook: Embrace Autism 2020

Instagram: @embraceautismbycurate

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