Early intervention centre launched

Fatimah (third right) officiates at the launch of the Oseic building. Also seen, from left, are Saadiah, Zaidi (behind Saadiah), Rosey, Francis and Zulaihi. Photo: Nur Ashikin Louis

KUCHING: The One Stop Early Intervention Centre (Oseic) at Metrocity Matang here was officially launched today.

Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development (KWKPK) Minister Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah said the centre, which could accommodate about 75 to 100 special needs children, would be managed by the Society for Parents of Children with Special Needs’ (Pibakat).

“To date, 31 children have registered at the centre.

“According to Oseic registration data on Oct 26, 12 children have autism, one has Autism Spectrum Disorder, 15 have Speech Delay, two have Global Developmental Delay (GDD) while one has sensory neural hearing loss,” she said when officiating at the centre yesterday.

Fatimah explained that Oseic would cater to young disabled children aged seven and below. The centre aspired for excellence in rehabilitation by providing one-stop services for diagnosis, early intervention and rehabilitation under one roof in addition to providing support services to parents or guardians of the children.

“For starters, Oseic will focus on three types of special needs, namely autism, down syndrome and learning difficulties.

“Here in Oseic, we emphasise on high quality early intervention (IE) services, which are family centred, developmentally-appropriate and child focused,” she added.

Oseic started operating a month ago with 11 staff comprising the general manager, an administrative executive, office assistants, junior office assistants, a physiotherapist, an occupational therapist and four IE assistants. All therapists and assistants have been trained by Genius Kurnia of Kuala Lumpur and Sarawak Dyslexia Association.

Among the facilities at the centre are  learning and rehabilitation spaces; a sensory integration room for simulation of sensory activities, motor skills and daily living skills; a snoezelen room  for children with autism and a consultation room for examination and diagnosis.

On the establishment of Oseic, Fatimah thanked the State Cabinet led by the Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg for approving an allocation of RM11,180,000 for the management and operations of the centre..

She also thanked Petronas for its initiative to build the first Oseic in Sarawak as its corporate social responsibility (CSR) programme with a one-off allocation of RM4 million.

“The allocation of RM4 million is used for renovation work, building rental, purchase of equipment and furniture, training and staff development, module construction and management costs for 2020 (first year of operation),” she disclosed.

She also thanked Datuk Chong Kia Hoi and Chong Kia Hoi (CKH) Realty Sdn Bhd for charging a special rate for the rental of the Oseic Sarawak building.

Fatimah pointed out that although there was no epidemiological data available on the prevalence of autism in Malaysia, a small scale study by the Ministry of Health (MoH) on children between the ages 18 to 26 months showed a rate of 1.6 in 1000 children, or approximately 1 in 62. As for Down syndrome, in 2012, the overall incidence was 1 in 800 births.

She also revealed that her ministry was working on a master plan for the special needs education in the state which included establishing the state’s own special education primary school, secondary school as well as a vocational skills training centre for children and teens with special needs.

“With that, we hope to hone the talents and potential of the special needs children, especially in generating income,” she added.

Also present were Community Wellbeing Assistant Minister Datuk Francis Harden Hollis, Women, Family and Childhood Development Assistant Minister Datuk Rosey Yunus, Sarawak Islamic Council Education Service Bureau director Datuk Adi Badiozaman Tuah, the ministry’s permanent secretary Dr Saadiah Abdul Samat, Petronas Sarawak general manager Zulaihi Mohd Mantali and OSEIC management committee’s chairman Zaidi Ahmad.