KUALA TERENGGANU, April 3 — There is no doubt that the Movement Control Order (MCO), implemented since March 18 in a bid to curb the spread of COVID-19, has impacted the daily routine of every Malaysian, more so that of autistic children.
These are trying times and parents with autistic children can attest to having their patience tested in attending to their special children’s needs, with the task becoming even more challenging when both parents are among the frontliners in the fight against the virus.
Just ask DSP Md Aruwan Md Amilah, 41, and his wife Sgt Normala Hashim, 33. These two Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM) personnel not only have to go out to serve the nation but also find time to care for their three children – Nuradreana Meldalisa, 9, six-year-old Muhammad Ammar Mikhail, who is autistic, and one-year-old Nur Airis Medina.
Md Aruwan said that Muhammad Ammar, who has been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), still can’t talk properly and that made it difficult for them to understand his needs at times.
“He also seems uneasy staying at home and he misses school. His usual routine after class at the PPDK (Pertubuhan Pemulihan Dalam Komuniti Dungun) around noon is to stop by the sundry shop to buy sweets… then when he reaches home, he will enjoy some water play using the hose and each time we return from work, we will take him for a ride around the area on the motorcycle.
“But since the MCO was implemented, he has had to stop all these activities… he can only enjoy his water play session now,” he told Bernama, adding that they are grateful that his wife’s 19-year-old niece is always available to care for Muhammad Ammar whenever they go out to work.
It’s different, however, for Dungun Police Training Centre (Pulapol) march-past trainer Sgt Mohd Amir Azrin Mohd Azaha, 37 and his wife Normah Mamat, 37, a nurse at the intensive care unit of Hospital Sultanah Nur Zahirah here, who are also parents to three children, including their eldest child – 12-year-old Mohammad Aqil Rayan, who is autistic.
Having no one to help them with caring for their children and with schools closed during the MCO, Mohd Amir Azrin had to seek permission from his bosses for some flexibility in his working hours so that he could tend to his children while his wife is at work.
“Luckily the management understands my situation and with the flexible working hours we need not have to worry about our children, especially our autistic child,” he said.
What’s interesting though is that Aqil understands the dangers and symptoms of COVID-19 and even writes down his prayers on a piece of paper asking for Malaysia to be free of the virus as soon as possible and recording a video advising Malaysians to stay at home.