Warning: This Story About An Innocent Autistic Individual Will Shake You Up
The world goes berserk in April.
It’s Autism Awareness Month, remember?
We light up in blue- the color designated to Autism Awareness.
Our tallest, most magnificent buildings are lit up in blue too.
We pride ourselves on being a compassionate people who accept the differently abled.
But an incident happened in Kaula Lumpur, recently. And it shook me to the core.
I would like you to hear the blow by blow account, from my dear friend, Dr Renuka Nambiar.
I came across news that a 22 year old autistic young man from W. Malaysia, who was out with his family for his birthday dinner, was made to spend a night in police custody, after he touched a young woman on the chest.
This affected me terribly, since I have an adult son on the autism spectrum as well. What had happened to Ziqri, could have happened to any one of our adult children.
I got in touch with Ziqri’s mother, and suggested we start a petition. She was distraught, and of course she could not start the petition herself. But she gave me permission to go ahead with the petition.
Next I contacted Ziqri’s lawyer and informed him about wanting to start the online petition. He was in favour of it.
I then got it in touch with an NGO and suggested that they take up the case of forwarding the petition. It would carry more weight through an NGO, than an individual initiating it.
We are requesting for a tailor made SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) in handling of individuals with autism, based on their unique nature and behaviour. We are asking for them not to be handcuffed. We are asking for them to have family with them at all times.
I suggested to the NGO, that the petition should be addressed to the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development, IGP, Bar Council of Malaysia and the National Autism Society of Malaysia. I gave the content of the petition and also edited it. We had the petition started at around 4 pm on 17th September. We spent hours sharing the petition to all our contacts on social media. Happy to say, friends from Malaysia, the US, UK, Australia and India have also shared this petition.
Within 48 hours, the number of people who had signed the petition had reached 20,000. Very encouraging indeed.
Latest development is that the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development gave a statement that they will look into this case. We have also received support from National Autism Society of Malaysia.