Hi everyone, I’m Norhamimah binti Nazaruddin and this is my story.

After my Form Five I did a Diploma in Culinary Arts at UiTM Shah Alam. When I completed by studies I volunteered for two years for the Johor Bahru Spastic Association, after which I moved to KL to work as a Guru Sandaran Tidak Terlatih for Special Needs classes. I got wind that there was a teaching vacancy at the Wilayah Persekutuan Spastic’s Children Association. I applied and was elated when I got the job. I have fond memories of my experience there. Besides teaching, I led the team in taking part in the 2006 FESPIC Games in Kuala Lumpur.

In the same year I was informed that Dika College had launched the Diploma in Special Needs Education (Early Childhood), and they were also awarding scholarships. I applied, was called for the scholarship interview and accepted to do the programme. 

I had a pleasant experience at Dika College. I attended weekend class. My classmates were teachers from other NGOs and many came from different backgrounds; and so I learnt a lot from them and from the lecturers.  This gave me theoretical and practical insights which encouraged me to stay on course and finish my diploma so that I could use my skills to serve the community. I graduated from DIKA in May 2009.

I started classes for children with Cerebral Palsy (CP) because I wanted to give them an opportunity to socialise and be part of the community. My initial experience with children with CP was when I was at Johor Bahru Spastic Association. At first I thought that they were just staring blankly without eye-contact, but I was wrong. Children with CP, are just like any other child. They can communicate and they appreciate being engaged and interacted with. They can participate in academic and sport activities, if we use the proper techniques. The most important thing for me is to nurture their communication skills. Even though a child may not speak, or move, they can and will respond in many ways; either by nodding their head, through facial expressions or just with a simple blink of their eyes.  

I was resolute that I wanted to do more for children with CP, support their parents and caregivers, and create awareness among the community about inclusion. My classes are focused on engaging children through the joy of play. There are many ways to teach a child with CP. We start with trust and bonding techniques such as shaking hands, smiling and gestures; and slowly begin to engage them via the use of interactive software and online platforms. We help them discover their surroundings by creatively encouraging them to interact with each other, their family and with the community.

If they can write, we teach them writing through the use of stickers, cards or other assistive devices. If they can’t write, we teach them how to type using a laptop. If they can speak but can’t write, we focus on verbal engagement. We need to be constantly creating creative ways and not restrict ourselves to any one single method. I see all activities as opportunities to engage, regardless if the child is able to respond to questions or complete the tasks.

It is important for children with CP to be part of the community. They must be accepted as equals. Parents play a key role and we encourage them to take their children out to participate in activities or just to be with the society in general. Many of our activities are held in public places so that we can instil confidence in parents, awareness to the community and most importantly give the child the same opportunities as we would with any other child. This is inclusion and we all have role to play in pushing the concept.

The recent symposium organised by Dika College and ISNC Edu Hub is one pertinent way to create awareness. I am thankful for having been given an opportunity to run a workshop at the event.

My classes for now are only on Sundays at the Bangsar Mosque. During weekdays, I dedicate my time to my family. I have three children and they attend a Chinese school. I am committed to supporting them all the way with their studies.