Xuan Rong's DadMy first visit to A Zon Educare Advisory was through my friend’s recommendation. My child, Xuan Rong is now 9 years old and has been with A Zon for approximately 3 years. He has been participating in various programmes such as a Life Child Living Etiquette Programme (CL) and a Life Child & Teen Enrichment Camp.

During his participation in the programmes, my first wish was that he could learn to have manners in public. Since young, he has a hot temper and would throw tantrums regardless of the environment and circumstances. He would throw things around or lie on the ground in the first instance of displeasure. However, through the interventions here in A Zon and the constant efforts of teaching and reinforcement at home, I feel that Xuan Rong has changed greatly in his behaviors. He is now more good-mannered; mild-tempered and has better control of his emotions. He has learned to control his temper by squeezing his fist or rubbing his palms, and has also cultivated better patience.

Now, I would like him to also acquire self-discipline skills and also interaction skills. Through the Enrichment Camp, I hope that he can learn the ways of interacting and communicating with other members, and thereby enhancing his skills in expressing himself and the attitude of working together to achieve a mission. I greatly appreciate the passion and efforts the teachers in A Zon Educare Advisory have presented.
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My daughter, Brandy, is 8 years old now. When she was 4 years old, kindergarten teachers commented that she is very active and not able to sit still in class, and thus, she could not learn attentively. In addition, she had bad temper and displayed her tantrum (i.e. throwing things) frequently. We were eager to look for solution or professional recommendation for her problems. We tried to search for information through internet and various websites but the results weren’t very satisfying. We either found information about overseas intervention programs or other irrelevant content from local websites. When Brandy was 6 years old, and we talked to our new neighbors on parenting issues, we found that the neighbor’s son was encountering similar problems as Brandy. But the son was receiving intervention to help in reducing his problems. They encouraged us to seek for help from A ZonEducare Advisory. Without hesitation, we made an appointment for consultation with the consulting psychologist in A Zon. After consultation, we decided to enroll Brandy in the intervention course.

It was a tough time for everyone during the initial sessions. Brandy threw tantrum easily and she wasn’t compliant with instructions. The instructors often took a longer time and greater effort to calm her during the sessions. After a few months of continuous intervention, Brandy has gradually settled down and was more cooperative. However, her functional skills such as body coordination, communication, and self-control ability were inadequate. Hence, we also cooperated with A Zon for the Home Support System and trained Brandy at home. The father even tailor-made a balancing beam so that we could train her body coordination and balancing at home.

A few months later, we noticed great improvement in Brandy’s body coordination; she could even ride a bicycle. In addition, she could listen and follow instructions; her self-control ability had improved. Temper tantrums in classes had been reduced as well. When she entered primary school (Standard 1), teachers encountered difficulty to handle her behavior due to lack of professional experience and inability to pay more attention to Brandy. We transferred her to another private school which specially caters to children with learning difficulties. Furthermore, we increased the intervention lesson in A Zon in order to improve her functional skills.

Brandy has been receiving intervention for about 2 years now. Her functional skills in several areas have improved compared to her previous performance. Besides her improvement in self-control and her temper, we noticed that her cognitive ability has also improved. She can now easily understand and accept rules as well as explanation. In terms of social interaction, her ability has improved as a result of her better self-control and communication skills. She is able to follow rules, being tolerant during play. As her attention improves, her learning ability shows improvement as well (e.g learning about concepts such as math, time, etc.). We are glad that she has shown such improvement. We know that she is late in receiving early intervention at the age of 6, but we will continue to provide her any help and support. We would like to thank A Zon and the school for their teaching and guidance.

Words for other parents...

I would like to share with other parents, not to procrastinate but to seek for professional help as soon as possible. People we interact with tend to console us not to worry too much as our child is still young. However, if we are ignorant and fail to detect the child’s difficulties at a young age, we might lose the window of opportunity for early intervention. Most importantly, parents have to face and accept the child’s difficulties. If our child has been diagnosed with learning or other developmental disorders, or our child has to go to a special school due to his or her difficulties, we have to accept the fact. Only if we can accept our child’s condition, then we would take action and seek for professional help. In this way, the child would benefit from getting the necessary help such as intervention and special school placement. I understand that some parents are afraid of stereotyping or discrimination from society. In fact, children with learning or developmental difficulties are not “abnormal”; they just need special treatment and more care and attention from us. In short, if parents are unwilling to take the initiative to seek for help, there is no one who can help our children.

Interviewee: Brandy's Mum on May 18, 2013

Enrique's Mum SharingMy son, Enrique, is 6 years old now. He was diagnosed with Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) by a clinical psychologist. But now, he is enjoying his kindergarten years like other normal children. He was admitted to ICU right after birth due to neonatal cerebral hypoxia. Although the doctor assured us that his anatomy and physiology is normal, we found that he was exceptionally “active” as a baby (i.e. waving his limbs actively for no reason). Past 10 months old, he still had no eye contact with people and he appeared withdrawn. Fortunately, he showed interest in educational video clips and was able to sing along (ABC song) at age 1. But he had difficulty in understanding instructions and appeared very active, i.e. didn’t walk but ran instead, fell down frequently, etc.

We eagerly looked for professional help. But it was difficult for us to access help in Jerantut and I had to search the internet for more information. I’d come across information on psychological intervention for children and that it was good to assess a child at about the age of 3. While browsing for information, I suspected that my child might have ADHD symptoms. It was very disturbing for me as a parent. At the age of 3, I brought Enrique for psychological and developmental assessment. The results showed that my child indeed has ADHD symptoms and his cognitive development is not on par with children of his age. Although he has deficit in speech and social ability, he didn’t meet the diagnostic criteria of autism. The psychologist assured us of a good prognosis for Enrique as he was 3 years old, a good time for early intervention. She suggested that Enrique go for speech therapy but we didn’t start therapy immediately as it’s hard to find such therapy in Jerantut.

I found out about A ZonEducare Advisory and the child psychologist, Ms. Lee Li Li, in a radio station’s website in which they shared about health care information. I contacted A Zon without hesitation and got to know more about their intervention program. After reading Enrique’s assessment report, we started to enroll him in the intervention program. I felt that I’d found the right place as Enrique enjoyed very much, the intervention integrated play and physical activities. In addition, they have professional psychologist and teachers to manage the case. Hence, I decided to travel to and fro between Jerantut and Selangor for his intervention program. During the first 2 months of intervention, Enrique couldn’t really perform and he was very clingy to me. And we couldn’t take leave too frequently to send him for intervention. Thus, we stopped the program for about 2 months.

We continued the program in A Zon two months later. Surprisingly, Enrique didn’t refuse to go for class and he didn’t need my companion in class anymore. In addition, I’ve found him a good kindergarten where its principal and teachers are patient enough to handle him. With cooperation and effort from A Zon, his kindergarten and parents, Enrique showed improvement gradually. One of the tremendous improvements is his self-control; he is now less active and able to sit still to complete his homework. In addition, his cognitive ability has improved as he understands and is able to follow instructions. He knows about consequences of his behavior (i.e. to avoid punishment, he would refrain himself from doing inappropriate behavior). His speech and communication has also improved (i.e. no more “parrot talk” and able to maintain conversations with others). Family and friends are surprised and happy for Enrique over his improvement. Those who do not really know him have never thought that he is a child with ADHD. I’m really thankful for the help from A Zon and his kindergarten. Last but not least, I would like to thank my parents, siblings and family members for their care and support along the journey.

Words for other parents...

Parents have to be alert in observing their child’s progress and difficulty. If problems are identified earlier, the sooner parents can seek for professional help and guidance. The process of seeking professional help could be upsetting as it’s challenging for parents to accept their child’s difficulties. People around us may try to calm us down by saying that the child will get better as he/she grows up. However, as parents, we should not ignore the problem, and we should appreciate the opportunity for early intervention. I would like to encourage parents to not give up during the intervention process. Parents’ participation and patience are very important during the intervention process. As long as we search for our child, a suitable and professional intervention, and we are complying with such intervention, we will definitely see improvement in the child. Parents’ psychological state also determines a child’s progress. If we are unable to accept our children, they would have no chance for intervention, hence, no improvement.

Interviewee: Enrique's Mum on April 25, 2013.

testimonial001I asked for a referral letter from the doctor when I brought my son, Zhi Hong, for vaccination when he was 18 months old. I wanted to have further medical investigation on his symptoms of lack of interest towards his environment, not responsive to his name and appearing withdrawn all the time. A doctor in a private hospital reported that Zhi Hong had speech delay problem and referred him for speech therapy. Nevertheless, I still felt doubtful and uneasy as there was no major improvement in my son. Hence, I actively looked for better intervention program for him. I read an article about learning difficulties written by Ms. Lee Li Li. Immediately, I made a call to A ZonEducare Advisory for consultation appointment with Ms. Lee. Through the consultation, we knew that Zhi Hong had learning difficulties and we decided to enroll him in the intervention program provided by A Zon.

For the first 2 years of intervention, Zhi Hong received 2 lessons of intervention per week. We realized that he started to be aware of his environment. There were some people who asked me not to continue with the intervention as it’s time consuming and a waste of money. However, I never thought of giving up as Ms. Lee told me that intervention takes time to see its effect. When he was 5, we increased his intervention from 2 lessons to 3 lessons per week. To suit our timetable, A Zon and Ms. Lee even arranged lessons for Zhi Hong on their off days. I was deeply moved by their sincere intention to help Zhi Hong. Gradually, we noticed great improvement in Zhi Hong’s speech and communication with others. He could speak single words, then short sentences, and then even initiated conversations with others. It was such a great encouragement and excitement for us. In addition, his learning ability and self-help skills have improved.

The intervention and training has enabled Zhi Hong to attend primary school like other normal children. Although he still needed special assistance and arrangement in class, his learning performance was not affected by his difficulties. For example, he scored 80 to 90 marks in spelling, English and Science, but he still needs to work more on comprehension and writing. In addition, his self-help skills are getting better (i.e he could manage his pocket money, he could pack his school bag, etc.). Teachers and other parents were surprised by his performance.

Although Zhi Hong has stopped receiving intervention now, we still keep in touch with A Zon to update them about Zhi Hong’s progress. This year, in which Zhi Hong is 9, I enrolled him and his elder sister in A Zon’s Life Education program. I hope they can learn to communicate and interact with others more effectively. Those who showed objection to my decision of sending Zhi Hong for intervention previously has now agreed with my decision and determination. I really feel blessed and thankful to meet A Zon and Ms. Lee.

Words for other parents…

I would like to encourage parents to look for solutions when encountering problems. Parents must never assume that their child would get better automatically as they grow up. Looking for professional help is the way to help our children develop and progress. The most important key is to be patient and determined throughout the intervention process. I remember once, Ms. Lee encouraged me to be determined and persistent as it took time to see the fruit of intervention. We had tried for 2 years to notice great improvement in Zhi Hong. On top of that, parents could apply for an OKU card (Orang KurangUpaya, Masalah Pembelajar)if that is necessary and recommended by health care professionals. The OKU card helps to facilitate special arrangement and assistance especially in schooling e.g. parents could apply from the Ministry of Education for longer exam time for children with learning difficulties so that they have more time to do their exam.

Interviewee: Zhi Hong’s Mother