3 August 2015

Kuala Lumpur

Mothers of children with autism hope that they outlive their children as their futures are so uncertain

Mothers of children with autism, across the income spectrum, hope that they outlive their children. This finding was part of IDEAS’ latest Policy Idea paper, “Living with Autism” by Joanna Menon Lim. This paper can be downloaded at

The paper explores the challenges faced by parents of children with autism in education and care, healthcare, family and society, and long term planning. The findings were collected based on interviews with a variety of stakeholders, including special needs educators, medical professionals and parents of children with autism in urban Klang Valley from high income, middle income and low income backgrounds.

The author suggests the following three key action points:

Ensure training and awareness for a wider audience — increasing the number of well-trained teachers, and targeting all medical practitioners
Provide more comprehensive forms of care through public and private parties.
Offer targeted and flexible financial assistance to parents of children with autism. For low-income parents, vouchers for private services could be provided.

Additionally, the paper touches upon the solutions that have been successfully employed in other countries, such as measures by the National Health Service in the United Kingdom, and the Center for Disease Control in the United States.

Commenting on the release of this paper, IDEAS Chief Executive Officer Tricia Yeoh said, “The importance of ‘providing services and support to empower persons with disabilities’ is noted in the second Strategic Thrust of the 11th Malaysian Plan. Yet, the current reality is that parents of individuals with autism receive inadequate support in areas critical for their overall wellbeing. It is high time Malaysia respects and honours the needs of this segment of our society, because their voices count and their dignity matters.”

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Joanna Lim is the principal and co-founder of Anyaman Preschool, a Reggio Emilia-inspired early childhood education centre. Previously, Joanne worked as a management consultant, and was a founding director at Teach For Malaysia. She holds degrees from McGill University and Harvard University, where she was a Maxis Scholar.

IDEAS is Malaysia’s first think-tank dedicated to promoting market-based solutions to public policy challenges. We are an independent not-for-profit organisation. As a cross-partisan think tank, we work across the political spectrum. Our purpose is to advance market-based principles, and we are not bound by party politics, race or religion. Our mission is to improve the level of understanding and acceptance of public policies based on the principles of rule of law, limited government, free markets and free individuals. For more information, please visit

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Media enquiries:

IDEAS (+60-3) 6201 8896/ 8897

Tamanna Patel,

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