We Hosted An Autism-Friendly Playgroup With Children On The Spectrum. Here's How It Went

Attendees also got to enjoy custom-made balloons and a Mario-themed photo booth.

Cover image via SAYS

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ICYMI, we've been running an 'All About Autism' campaign to champion autism awareness and acceptance.

On 14 May, we even hosted our first inclusive playgroup at GSC, 3 Damansara, in collaboration with GSC and The Early Autism Project.

Image via SAYS

The special event included 30 families with children on the spectrum and attendees were treated to a fun-filled morning of activities, followed by a free screening of The Super Mario Bros. Movie.  

Held at GSC's PlayPlus hall, children had full access to the cinema's expansive playground facilities, which included giant slides, ball pits, wooden climbing gyms, and more. Sounds like fun, right? :D

Image via SAYS

The Early Autism Project booth provided free autism pre-screenings, autism education, information on their online portal, and merchandise.

Image via SAYS

At the SAYS Arts & Crafts station, children were encouraged to bring out their creativity by making 'Mario' and 'Luigi' origami hats, as well as enjoy colouring sheets. 

Look at that adorable little Mario hat! Awww. <3

Image via SAYS

Those who wanted to take pictures as a memory got to do so at the Mario-themed photo booth

The Supa Dupa Circus, a spectacular squad of balloon specialists and family entertainers, set up a booth and customised one-of-a-kind Mario balloon art for the children, ranging from laser guns and butterflies to monkeys holding bananas. Ahh, so kewt!

Image via SAYS

Apart from all the fun activities, the event also gave parents an opportunity to connect with other families with autistic children.

Throughout the month of April, SAYS championed autism awareness and acceptance with our 'All About Autism' campaign, in line with World Autism Month

Image via SAYS

The initiative includes a special landing page, which will be available year-long, where Malaysians can read, watch, and learn more about autism spectrum disorder through interviews with autistic individuals, as well as find resources from specialists, therapists, and experts in the field.

From an experiential video that showcases 'sensory overload', to going live on TikTok for six hours to raise funds for The National Autism Society of Malaysia (NASOM), SAYS strives to create a safe space for all neurodivergent individuals. 

REV Media Group's Head of English Network, Laila Zain, hopes to create a safe space in society for children on the spectrum through awareness on autism

Image via SAYS

"My son was diagnosed with autism when he was seven years old. It can be a lonely journey for both the child and their parents, as it's difficult to understand unless you are in the same situation.

"Our goal in creating this playgroup is to not only allow children on the spectrum to meet others like them and be themselves in a safe space, but also for their families to be able to connect.

"I hope that SAYS will continue to be a safe space for all neurodiverse people," she added.

Collaborators GSC and The Early Autism Project also shared their thoughts about the successful playgroup event

Noordiana Ibrahim, Senior Specialist, Public Relations of Golden Screen Cinemas said, "As the leading cinema exhibitor in Malaysia, our aim is to foster inclusivity amongst Malaysians and that includes creating safe spaces for our friends with special needs with sensory-friendly screenings, where movies are screened at a reduced volume and dimmed lighting to make it a comfortable experience for the kids.

"More than that, continuing to champion our autism awareness efforts in the long term, GSC's 'Loving Autism' year-long campaign aims to educate Malaysians through collaborations with like-minded organizations," she continued.

The Early Autism Project also added, "It is so heartwarming as Malaysians to witness the continued efforts of organisations like SAYS and GSC to raise awareness on autism and promote inclusion for individuals with different abilities.

"We at EAP are honoured to be a part of this event and look forward to more collaborative efforts together!" they said.

Wanna learn more about autism? Click here to discover our 'All About Autism' campaign!

Image via SAYS

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