The Faculty of Health and Social Sciences of the International University of Malaya-Wales (IUMW) in collaboration with the Cluster of Social Development and Well-being under the Majlis Profesor Negara (MPN) was proud to organise a forum on the 30th of November 2017 on Evidence-Based Interventions for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). The said forum was a continuation from a prior event which was held at IUMW, the Roundtable Discussion on ASD: Early Diagnosis and Intervention for Young Children, held on 24th May 2017.
The purpose of this forum was to address critical issues in relation to the population of children affected by ASD in Malaysia. Topics discussed during the forum revolved around the social, emotional, cognitive and developmental needs of the children as well as the intervention strategies that can help them. In particular, the intervention strategy that was of focus in the forum was to use evidence-based practices (EBPs). EBPs in this context, are the tried and tested procedures established by scientific researchers that have been clinically proven to aid the impairments of children with ASD in terms of social interaction, deficits in communication, and the presence of rigid behaviours and restricted interests.
As part of IUMW’s commitment in bridging social policy, research, and clinical interventions, this forum had brought together representatives from the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Women, Family, and Community Development. Additionally, scholars, child psychiatrists, clinicians, and practitioners from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, NASOM, and the Autism Behavioural Centre, to name a few, contributed their expertise on the availability as well as effectiveness of interventions for children with ASD.
Understanding that appropriate treatments are key to improving the lives of both children with ASD and their caregivers, participants had unanimously agreed on the urgent need to raise awareness on the accessibility of evidence-based interventions among parents and educators, in addition to the public in general. As for appropriate treatments for children with ASD, it was commended that resources and efforts are needed to focus on research and improving communication between experts from different disciplines.
Sharing resources and improving the collection of accurate epidemiological data seems to be the way forward. A collaborative, systematically identified and strategically implemented autism strategic research plan was deemed essential and should require a dynamic, cohesive process that streamlines research moving from bench to bedside (and back). Some of this work has already begun, with efforts such as Early Project of Autism Malaysia, NASOM, IDEAS Autism Centre, Permata Kurnia and others.
It is the hope of all that this forum has paved the way for more research on determining the efficacy of ASD interventions. Moreover, we also wish that this forum has fostered relationships among various experts in the field of ASD which will subsequently lead to future collaborations that leave a lasting impact on the community.