Microsoft partners WRTS on coding programme for autistic kids


Kids gymnasium We Rock The Spectrum (WRTS) announced its long-term partnership with Microsoft Malaysia to enhance the development of autistic children in the country.

This partnership will include coding experience as part of the gym’s programme.

“We are trying to empower autistic children with technology, with the hopes that they can overcome challenges they face,” Microsoft MD K Raman (picture) told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR).

He said the partnership to include the coding programme is in line with the company’s efforts to democratise technology and bridge the opportunity divide.

“We believe empowerment begins with inclusion and technology should be shared with everyone, especially youths, as today’s digital natives are tomorrow’s digital workforce,” he added.

Microsoft organised an “Hour of Code” in collaboration with WRTS to commemorate the World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD) 2018 recently.

Participants from the Imagine Cup 2018 regional finals, employees and volunteers from Microsoft, as well as youths from the National Autism Society of Malaysia (NASOM) come together to guide children on the autism spectrum on coding tutorials.

WRTS co-owner Nori Abdullah said coding is the baseline to discover new possibilities and bring out the essentials to explore children with special abilities.

“As the nation braces itself for the fourth industrial revolution, we are constantly seeking methods to educate our young ones to be ready for a digital future.

“In observance of WAAD 2018, children with different abilities learnt computational thinking through Minecraft; my son, Timor, who is on the spectrum, loves Minecraft.

“We’ve found many people on the spectrum who have the inclination and some talent when it comes to technology,” Nori said.

Meanwhile, WRTS co-owner Datin Rahmah Mahmood said Malaysia needs more spectrum facilities in the country to cater to the increase in demand for sensory activities and services.

As such, WRTS is planning to open another gym in Melawati Mall in July this year.

Rahmah told TMR that the expansion plan is to widen its geographical coverage to Ampang and Cheras from its existing outlet in Ara Damansara.

“We expect definite growth in the coming mall because we have so much support from our customer base who had requested for more strategic locations.

“We will also be introducing a sensory bus division to reach out to people who don’t have the access to any facilities, lack of awareness, or even means,” she added.

NASOM noted that there are approximately 9,000 children in Malaysia who are born with autism each year, according to the incidence rate at one in 68 newborns.

In recognition of the United Nations General Assembly, WAAD this year is set to adopt resolutions, drawing attention and empower women and girls with autism.

Nori noted that children with disabilities, especially girls and women in this country, are more likely to be marginalised or denied access to education.

“We intend to shatter this stereotype and show how inclusion, diversity and equal opportunity can make a difference,” she said.

WRTS Ara Damansara is an autism-focused kids gym with a sensory-safe indoor playground for children with autism.