Beware of mercenaries
Peter Boon, firstname.lastname@example.org
ALL EARS: Fatimah and Temenggong Vincent Lau in exchange of thoughts at the 4th National Early Childhood Intervention Conference.
SIBU: The president of National Early Childhood Intervention Council (NECIC) Datuk Dr Amar Singh warned of an unhealthy of financially motivated professionals running private practices and organisations for children with special needs.
“These individuals and organisations feed into the fear of parents for their child’s future and charge exorbitant sums for assessment and therapy,” Dr Amar said in his keynote address at the 4th National Early Childhood Intervention Conference here yesterday.
His keynote address was entitled “Whither Services for Children with Disability in Malaysia”.
The conference, themed: “Family-centred Practices – Early Childhood Intervention and Beyond,” started yesterday and ends tomorrow.
The official media are Utusan Borneo, The Borneo Post and See Hua Daily News.
Minister of Welfare, Women and Family Development Datuk Fatimah Abdullah officiated at the opening of the conference.
Dr Amar said professionals needed to be passionate in their work and driven by compassion in serving children with special needs.
Among the other challenges currently faced by services for children with special needs included the lack of respect for children and parents’ opinion in services provided.
“There is a lack of uniform professional and quality services by health, welfare and education departments,” he said.
He also cautioned about the growth of poorly trained professional manpower.
He observed that young doctors had very limited knowledge and skills to evaluate children with special needs (universities continue to lag behind in the advances in this field).
“There is a growth in medical rehabilitation manpower but the delivery of services is still institutional based. Quality of services is not uniform and allied health professionals tend to be `concrete’ in training and provision of services,” he said.
He lamented that there was a lack of integration between various sectors, adding that services were currently still fragmented.
“Children with special needs are often managed by a number of different departments with little integration. Services are better at assessment than rehabilitation,” he said.
He also pointed out that vulnerable segments of the population still had limited access to services.
Since 2000, there had been enormous growth of policies and services nationally but implementation was still an issue, he said.
“Services are very limited in rural communities and some pockets of population have no services.”
He added despite the growing recognition and some concerted national plans, the recognition of the importance of early intervention (EIP) for children with special needs remained limited.
“The national agencies continue to stigmatise and segregate children with special needs,” he moaned.
To move forward, he said these challenges must be addressed vigorously in a strong partnership of parents, practitioners and policy makers.
“Government agencies, professionals and therapists need to have a paradigm shift,” he advocated.
Meanwhile, co-chair of the local organising committee Kapitan Datuk Janet Lau stressed the importance of family-centred practices.
“With some 60 experts from far and near, we will be better equipped with knowledge to lend a hand to the less fortunate group in the family,” said Lau.
Among those present were Temenggong Vincent Lau and Sibu Resident Sim Kok Kee.