Abby was standing beside the swing at the playground, looking at the kids that happily swinging on the swing with their friends. “It looks fun,” she said. She walked away from the swing and look around at other children that were playing on the slides. “When can I join them,” thought Abby. She wanted to have friends but do not know how to approach them. Looking around at the playground, she saw a colourful unique bench that can be moved, and she sat at the bench.
“Hi, what is your name?” said a boy that suddenly came by her side. “My name is Abby,” said Abby. That boy looked at her and took a seat beside her on the bench. The bench that Abby sit were balanced when the boy sits. He suddenly mentioned, “My name is Alex. I saw you sit on this bench and thought you might need a friend”. They keep on talking and finally, they became friends.
This is story is not a miracle story for other children, but it is for special needs kids, it might be common for them to be in this situation when they are at playground or in public. Finding friends can be a hard task for them because of the stigma and just because they look, and act differently compared to others. It is indeed the same for Autism kids. Coping with new surrounding and at the same time, trying to find a friend to play can be a difficult task for them. We decided to help reduce their difficulties with our new event +A Friend Bench.
Autism Spectrum Disorder is a complex developmental disability (where) signs typically appear during early childhood and affect a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others. People on spectrum also have a certain kind of behaviours that affects each of them at different degree. Children with autism are typically less responsive when calling their name, prefer not looking directly in the eye, have trouble remembering faces and recognizing emotion. They also have a problem communicating and socializing with other children.
According to Centre for Disease Control (CDC) in US, 1 in 54 children are diagnosed with autism and applying this prevalence to Malaysia, it means, approximately 9,000 children in Malaysia are born with Autism every year and the numbers will increase every year.
Although the prevalence is increasing each year, we, A+ for Autism noticed lack of autism-friendly public space for children with autism and their families. Family with autism children often reluctant or must prepare a lot before going out in public with the child because they usually have trouble adjusting and easily overwhelmed when facing new surroundings.
However, our funds are limited, and we need your help to provide more for autism people. Your donations will be made to A+ for Autism to help improve the quality of life for people with Autism and their family in Malaysia. Let’s work together to show some love and care towards autism and to show support for families with autistic children.
This Plus A Friend Bench is inspired by Buddy Bench/Friendship Bench that aims to help children that feel lonely, they can go to the bench as a signal that they need someone to play with. Other children that see them on the bench can include them in their game. For this event, we decided to upgrade the buddy bench to Plus A Friend Bench that is more suitable for Autistic children. Most people with autism have problems communicating and socializing with others.
The design is quite unique as it combined the function of a bench and a see-saw hence the cost for 1 bench is RM 5000. It might sound pricey, but the amount includes the cost of the bench, modification, carpenter fees and installation cost. It is upsetting to see that families with autistic children are fearing to bring their kids out in public because of the lack of autism-friendly space in public.
Other than that, there is another reason why this bench is different from other benches in public. This bench is designed to provide comfort for autism children when they are out in public. The see-saw design for the bench will rock them up and down. Any children would love to sit on a see-saw with their friends. There are also many benefits behind them:
1. Opportunity to socialize- As the bench is designed like a see-saw, the children needed to have other people together on the bench for it to be balanced. This will give reasons for them to interact with other children or adults -to balance the bench or anyone that see kids on the bench can join them and make a new friend.
2. Can provide calming and relaxing sensation- the rocking motion is good for the children when they are agitated or stress with the new environment. The blood pressure of them will reduce during rocking and they will feel less stress.
3. Increase focus - if the children are restless, rocking can provide a way for them to have motion and helps focus their attention when people are talking to them.
4. Increase core strength- the bench can improve the child’s upper and lower body strength as they move up and down and maintain their body balance when sitting there.
Families with autism to go out without worrying about the condition of their children in public.
No one should be alone especially special needs children who also are neglected and find it hard to earn friendship. So, if you see any special needs kids/teenagers or even adults sitting at the bench alone, we want you to go over and balance the Plus A Friend Bench and let that someone plus a new friend in his/her life!
With your donation, we can sponsor up to 10 benches for people with autism who are in need of friendships!
We are very thankful for the donation of any size!
For more information, click on the links provided below, which will lead you to our social media platforms, as well as our official website!