Last week, Autism Initiatives Malaysia (AIM) hosted their inaugural symposium on teens and adults transitioning to further education and employment here in Malaysia. This is a topic dear to my heart, as a father of an autistic child myself, so I made a point to attend the keynote talk by Michael Carley on the needs of teens and adults on the autism spectrum.
Unfortunately, I was not able to attend the symposium beyond his keynote talk. But I was glad to make it for Michael’s talk, because it was one heck of a talk! With that, it is my great pleasure to share with you Michael Carley’s talk – The New Look at the Needs of Teens and Adults on the Autism Spectrum!
Don’t forget to catch the Autism And Special Needs Q&A With Dr. Rajini Sarvananthan
The New Look at the Needs of Teens and Adults on the Autism Spectrum
Embracing neurodiversity in the workplace is the clarion call of Michael J. Carley, who was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in his adult years. That diagnosis was the tipping point that started Carley on a journey to ensure that the world understood the language of autism, and that workplaces are equipped, empowered and supportive of people with ASD.
What does a diagnosis like that mean for him as a husband, a parent, a colleague, a team leader, a social worker and a valuable contributor to the community? In his talk, Michael Carley will de-mystify autism, and unpack the prejudices and preconceptions we have towards autism.
In Malaysia, the Ministry of Health found that one out of 625 children is in the autism spectrum. However, with the proper provision of care, intervention services and a conducive learning environment, individuals with autism can achieve their full potential and succeed in the workplace. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention United States of America (CDC USA), 62% of autistic individuals have average and above IQ above 70.
For those who want to learn more about Michael Carley’s experience as an autistic adult, he wrote several books :
- Asperger’s From the Inside Out: A Supportive and Practical Guide for Anyone with Asperger’s Syndrome (Penguin/Perigee, April, 2008)
- Unemployed on the Autism Spectrum (Jessica Kingsley, February, 2016)
He has just finished two more books, which should be published shortly!
Embracing Neurodiversity In The Workplace
Officiated by YB Khairy Jamaluddin, the MP of Rembau, the inaugural AIM symposium was focused on how teens and adults can transition to further education and the workplace. It featured top autism researchers, professionals, advocates and NGOs like Feilina Feisol, President of NASOM, Dr. Hajjha Wasita, Chief Director of the Youth Skills Development Division under the Malaysian Ministry of Youth and Sports, Wendy Ho, HR Director of Intercontinental Hotel, Dato’ Dr. Lai Fong Hwa, Dr. Daniel Leung, Teresa Kidd and Dr. Jasmine Macdonald from Curtin University.
“AIM is a catalyst in the autism spectrum service landscape, shifting from early child intervention to a focus on adults. In Malaysia, understanding on the subject matter is still at its infancy stage, what more adult autism, where it is likely that many adults are living with undiagnosed autism. At AIM, we want to create an ecosystem that assists students and adults on the autism spectrum to find meaningful and gainful employment,” said Yammy Ang, chairperson of AIM.
“It is also imperative that we reach out to as many business owners and organisations as possible. We want to connect with intuitive and enlightened employers who are always on the lookout for unique talents and are open to a more neuro diverse work environment. We are indeed grateful that the Entrepreneurs’ Organisation (EO) is able to lend their endorsement in our symposium by organizing an event for Carley to meet with and share this initiative with the country’s leading entrepreneurs,” said Dr. Choy Sook Kuen, co-chairperson of AIM.
AIM also took the opportunity to launch its self-advocacy community which will be spearheaded by Dr. Daniel Leong, AIM Co-Chairperson who himself was diagnosed with autism only at 31 years old. The self-advocacy community will act as a safe haven for individuals with autism spectrum condition to support each other through their journey of awareness, acceptance and appreciation. It is aimed to provide a platform for people to connect and share experiences and ideas in an empathetic and connected environment.
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