Parental accounts of the impact of living with a child with autism in a remote community.
Negara Brunei Darussalam.A/Professor Kathleen TaitHong Kong Baptist UniversityHong Kong SAR
Traditional Islamic Community
95% is uncultivated jungle
Strong cultural and religious belief systems impact on attitude and practice in the remote areas of Brunei.
Water ways are a way of life.
Use of religious faith, medicine man, and traditional medicine to heal.
Traditional (jungle) medicineKecubong (flower)
The Inclusive Educational PolicyThe philosophy and policy of special education in Brunei state that all children can learn if they are provided with appropriate educational programs that meet the childrens unique individual needs for maximizing their learning potential. However, students with mild disabilities far over-represent enrolment in regular classrooms in comparison to students with severe disabilities.
Parent initiated classes for students with special education needs are held in private houses.
These non-registered classes are limited and occur in very cramped conditions.
One NGO offering support for families with chn with autism: Smarter CentreThis NGO has been running since 2004. It offers part time day services to children with autism aged between 4 12 years of age. There are no trained therapists and no trained teachers. There is a business manager & Director.
Aim of the studyThe objective of this study was to assess the subjective interpretation of Bruneian parents regarding the impact of a child with autism on the family.
Participants30 families with children with autism aged between 0-12 years access services from the only agency which offers services to children with autism in Brunei.
All 30 sets of parents where recruited to complete the Impact on Family Scale (IFS; Stein & Reissman, 2004).
Parent perception of intensity of stress in different life areas were also examined as a function of salient social and demographic factors associated with the childs disability.
Data collectionData was collected in the form of a home visit with both parents where possible.
The semi-structured interview was carried out by an RA who was Bruneian, training to be a teacher, and who could speak both English and Malay fluently.
ResultsBruneian parents reported a high degree of stress in caring for their child with autism. Highlight some further discussion on disruption of social relationships, general and total impact.
Disruption of Social Relationships
He is okay ..as long as there is some blue.
The blue family
General impactFamily 6 Only parents that have autism children know the worry they are carrying rather than parents doesnt have autism children. Financial problem is affecting some parents to send their children to SMARTER for joining the Association. There is a lot of parents had an autism children in lack of services
Themes that emergedPositive outcomesCloser familyMore tolerantHumble, caring,Open mindedNever give up!Stronger emotionally, physically, spiritually.A test of the family members faith.
Issues of concernFinancial impactLack of understanding by othersLack of services in regular schoolsMany concerned for the future care of their child due to lack of services.
Autism: a test of the families faith.Family 24A child is a responsibility given by Allah the Almighty. Look after him/her well and God willing, you will be blessed by this test. Amen.Family 12Autistic child is a gift child, as a parent. Family 16This test we can accurately say is from Allah the Almighty to our family. This is for us to be more patient when faced with other challenges. Family 27Life with a child with autism is very different and challenging especially for your patience and faith.
Lack of support services impacts on concerns for the futureFamily 11Problems if he doesnt attend school and not preoccupied most of the time, he is getting more hyperactive. With no other therapy treatment given aside from SMARTER makes it more difficult for my son to adjust.Family 19There is not much support from the Government and Society in Brunei on matters related to Autism. The community as a whole does not understand what autism is, so people tend to laugh or just find them troublesome or weird. Even my closest family do not given enough support, none from the government, most govt schools teachers are not trained to handle autistic children, so we need to send them to private schools, and to ASD centre (SMARTER) and this cost extra money and time.I dont know what will become of my son do when he is 18 years old. Im not sure if he will be accepted to work or not be taken advantage of. I pray and hope things will be better and people will be kinder to him! (Insya Allah).
Family 27What we are worried and afraid about is the future of our child with autism. The ASD centre requires sponsoring and donation from parents and other people. We are hoping that our children with autism will receive an allowance from the government so that they can be independent in the future if parents or guardians are no longer alive.
Parents perceptions of barriers to acceptance and inclusionLack of support from other childrens parents, teachers, and administrators.Superstitious beliefs (disability is an infectious disease).Reluctance of regular class teachers to accept students with disabilities because of class size, no teaching skills and no time for instructional planning.Lack of facilities and financial assistance in schools.Teachers negative attitudes and refusal to cooperate because teaching students with disabilities is a burden.Negative community attitudes such as rejection and isolation of peers with behavior problems.
Synergies with the World Report on DisabilityChapter 5Social and demographic factors affecting demand and supply Impact of shameConsequences for caregivers of unmet need for formal support servicesStress/Greater difficulties as caregivers ageBarriers to assistance and support.Lack of fundingInappropriate policiesInadequate & unresponsive services
What services need to be developed in Brunei?
The development of a culturally sensitive screening tool for the early identification of young children with early signs or high risk of developmental disabilities (such as autism).The field development and field testing of pre-school early intervention programmes that build on existing evidence of the components of the successful programmes (SMARTER), but which also reflect the cultural and social context of Brunei.The development of a workforce and administrative structures to enable the scaling up of inclusive education programmes.Government assistance and financial support to the SMARTER Centre non-profit organizations who are filling the gap.Community awareness and more support service organizations to support a range of disabilities.
Conclusion:The evolution of educational opportunities for people with disabilities is a civil and a human rights issue. It is hoped that the results of this study will raise awareness for the need of further social, health and educational services for Bruneian families who are currently trying to adjust their parenting skills to cater for a family member with autismwith very little support.