Bandar Seri Begawan - Visiting Executive Director of the Asia-Pacific Development Centre on Disability (APCD), Akiie Ninomiya is impressed with the local production of highly technical training materials for people with autism and other disabilities.
Speaking to the Bulletin during a meeting on the upcoming 2nd Asean Autism Network Congress yesterday at SMARTER's Jangsak branch, he pointed out that most of the training and educational equipment of US or Europe production costs thousands.
But, here he was amazed to find out that the same training and educational equipment costs less, which he finds very encouraging and sees this as sustainable and can be utilised in Asean countries such as Vietnam, Myanmar and Laos.
One highlight he raised was the excellent management and operations of SMARTER Brunei, which impressed him with the centre's development since he last visited more than a year ago.
Parental support at the centre are no less impressive and some parents are professionals with expertise in health and education.
With their different backgrounds, they could initiate volunteerism in areas such as construction or making training related equipment or rooms.
Ninomiya further pointed out that autism is a newly recognised disability unlike the blind and deaf as well as physically disability and autism is not getting the right attention yet.
Thus, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) is highlighting autism to raise awareness.
Brunei is one of the Asean Autism Network member and the coming congress will see previews of UN ESCAP's initiatives.
The congress will disseminate awareness to the Asean community to understand what is autism and to accept autistic people as part of the society.
Meanwhile, President of the Association of Thai Parents of Persons with Autism, Chusak Janthayanond, shares the same view as Ninomiya on the development of autism related activities in the country where after six years, he has seen a lot of development.
When asked about parental support groups in other countries, he responded that they are similar to Brunei.
As the outgoing chairman of ANN Congress, he hopes to create social awareness particularly parental awareness so that their autistic family members can become be more independent.
He disclosed that in Thailand, the rights of the people with disabilities are legalised and currently Lao PDR, Myanmar and Cambodia are considering it with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) as base guidelines.
To date, eight countries in Asean have rectified CRPD and all over the world, there are 137 countries that have rectified CRPD to make the lives of the people with disabilities better.
As a father with an autistic child, he also expressed his desire that the congress will create unity among parents and see more coordination to emerge stronger.
His visit to Brunei is aimed at exchanging of ideas and gaining more knowledge.
Having more knowledge and sharing the best practices are very important, he said as there are one million families with autism, with Indonesia recording 600,000 and Thailand with 300,000.
Both Ninomiya and Janthayanond are part of the delegates of five members from APCD here for preparations for the upcoming AAN Congress.--Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin