Giving Children with Autism a Voice


Every success story begins with a supportive opportunity. Take Mark’s case, for example…

Mark is nine years old and has no functional speech. He was diagnosed with apraxia, a motor disorder that affects his ability to form sounds. Locked in silence and unable to communicate meaningfully, he was a frustrated toddler who was unfocused, made limited eye contact and tended to whine.

After he was diagnosed with developmental delay, his parents started getting him help. They enrolled him in therapies and followed through at home with various activities to deal with his challenges. They found Looi Wei Li, who was a speech therapist that introduced the family to Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) aids that are designed to help non-verbal individuals communicate.

Looi started introducing AAC apps to him on a tablet in 2017. He started by simply tapping on pictures to communicate. However, now he has become literate and has since moved on to typing words and even sentences.

“We could see his confidence growing. He is happier and more curious now, eager to learn words and spelling. With this app, he is also trying to socialize with his friends in school, it allows him to be part of the classroom,” says Looi.

Mark is one of the few Malaysians with developmental delays such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) who has benefited from using assistive tech. His developmental advances have helped him assimilate to normal life and make him feel more comfortable at school and in his community.

The reason Mark was able to grow was because he was given this opportunity that not all children are able to experience. All success stories need support in order to sustain. Therefore, COMPASS has a few simple steps that can help you build up that foundation of success for your child.

  1. Encourage them to try something new.

  2. Make it fun.

  3. Keep a reasonable goal in mind.

  4. Reinforce the experience with positive praise.

Every child can become successful, whether the success is big or small. Some just need a little extra support and encouragement to achieve their goals and find their confidence! For more about Mark's story, or other stories like his, please visit https://www.thestar.com.

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