Friday, May 24, 2024 | 22:53 WIB

Spekix 2024 nurtures the potential of people with autism

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Jakarta, IO – Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability caused by inconsistencies in the brain. People with ASD often have problems with social communication and interaction, and tend toward restricted or repetitive behaviors or interests. They may also have different ways of learning, moving or paying attention. The number of children with ASD continues to increase, globally it is estimated at 1 out of 100, while in Indonesia it is 1 in 500. 

“Until now, no one can confirm what causes autism. Autism can be invisible, so parents must be alert if their child shows a tendency toward abnormally repetitive activities, for example arranging toy boxes in a row sideways for a whole day. A diagnosis of autism can be made from the age of 18 months, using the M-CHAT screening or Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers. Therapy takes the form of sensory integration and applied behavior analysis, which is different from ADHD, which generally requires medication,” explained Prof. Dr. dr. Hardiono D. Pusponegoro, Sp.A(K), pediatric neurology consultant from the Faculty of Medicine, University of Indonesia, at the “Special Kids Expo (Spekix) 2024” media meeting organized by the Zally Zarras Learning Center and the Drisana Foundation, Thursday (25/4/2024). Spekix 2024 will be held on 11 and 12 May at the Jakarta Convention Center, Jakarta. 

He added that autism therapy should be carried out as soon as possible. “The sooner the treatment, the better the results. The target of shortterm therapy is that individuals can speak and communicate, and are able to attend elementary school, either regular elementary school or inclusive elementary school, or, if forced, a special needs school. The long-term target is a higher school level. Clinically, after therapy 75% can speak, 10% can talk a little, and 15% remain nonverbal. Support for individuals with autism must start from the family. Parent involvement makes a big contribution, but you have to get training first; you can’t just do it intuitively,” he warned. “Appropriate therapy from an early age can make them independent and develop further to fit into the world of work. When they work, they’re usually good, because they do not seem to get tired.” 

Prof. Dr. dr. Hardiono
Prof. Dr. dr. Hardiono D. Pusponegoro, Sp.A(K) (IO/Esti)

The fact, their potential and strengths are still hindered by opportunities to join the workforce. Job opportunities for individuals with autism are still minimal because social inclusion in Indonesia is still low. Social inclusion needs to be increased so that they can contribute in various fields. “They must get support and opportunities from all parties. Understanding communication styles, support from colleagues, superiors or mentors, and a work environment that is inclusive and open to individuals with autism can help increase their contribution in the workplace,” he concluded. 

Fulfill the Rights of People with ASD 

Based on data from the Indonesian Ministry of Manpower, of 440 companies with a workforce of 237,000 people, only 2,851 people, or 1.2 percent of the workforce, in the formal sector are known to have disabilities. Law Number 8 of 2016 concerning Individuals with Disabilities requires the obligation to employ individuals with disabilities with a portion of 1% for private companies and 2% for State-Owned Enterprises (BUMN)/Regionally-Owned Enterprises (BUMD). 

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On the same occasion, the Spekix 2024 Steering Committee, dr. Sri Hartati Sutowo Sp.Mk, announced “This year we raised the theme ‘Love and Kindness Unite – Illuminating the Path to Inclusion and Equality’ as a commitment to fight for the rights of individuals with special needs, including those living with autism and learning difficulties, as well as providing equal opportunities to develop optimally. Let’s fulfill the rights of individuals to reach their maximum potential, to contribute to society, and to live in an inclusive environment.” 

Meanwhile, Deputy Chairperson Zavnura Pingkan Sutowo stated that Spekix 2024 provided an opportunity to understand more deeply the needs and support for people with autism through various informative and inspiring activities, seminars, and exhibitions. “This is an effective platform in supporting and improving the quality of life of people with special needs and is a forum for stakeholders to gain a deeper understanding of assessment, therapy, formal education, skills, and training needed for parents, families, educators, and caregivers for individuals with autism,” said Zavnura. (est)

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