Autism friendly Sunway Putra Mall-Malaysia's first

Autism is a disorder that prevents a child from being normal at par with his/her peers. Kids with autism need special attention as they face challenges in verbal and non verbal communications, social skills and other general day to day activities. Latest stats reveal one in 59 kids in the USA are diagnosed to be suffering from Autism. In India 23 out of 10000 kids are believed to have autism. [source] Malaysia is said to have over 3 lakh citizens affected by Autism [source] or one in 68.

Reason for above paragraph is because Autism as a concern is gaining prominence. Just like we're trying to be an inclusive society by making our facilities friendly for disabled people, additional attention is needed to accommodate people affected by Autism. For parents with a child affected by Autism, most of their time will be gone attending to the child leaving them exhausted and feeling helpless as they will have very little time for themselves or other things in life.

Sensing this need, one mall in Malaysia has made special arrangements to be Autism friendly. For couples having an autism affected kid, visiting this mall means they can enjoy the mall experience without compromising safety, comfort and special needs of their autism kid.

That mall is Sunway Putra Mall, located in Jalan Putra next to PWTC light rail station. We had a guided tour of the mall which has several special provisions to assist autism affected kids. Here're a quick brief on them.

1. Pet the cat at CAT playground
Sunway Putra Mall has a small cat centre where several friendly cats are housed. Kids or anyone can spend some time inside petting the cats. These cats are friendly- won't hurt, won't run away, won't resist from being picked up. Cats (and pets in general) are big de-stressers and can comfort anyone under pressure or upset or having autism. Parents can leave their kids in the cat centre and return later once they are done with their shopping.

This is my favorite part of the mall.

I am told cats are constantly rotated- like after a week they are sent to their homes and another batch comes in- this is to avoid keeping them longer in confined spaces and to ensure they don't get stressed.

Calm Ambiance
Every Tuesday 10 AM to 5PM  the mall is extremely autism friendly. There won't be loud music or bright lights and various other such initiatives make the mall more hospitable for those with autism.

Feel the surface
Lots of dedicated areas where kids can feel the surface, texture, have fun on creative chairs and original grass like floor mats that give impression of being in a park

Special rooms
There're dedicated care centres where parents can leave their autism affected kids and continue with their shopping.

Autsome welcome kit, reserved parking and assistance from well trained staff are other benefits for those visiting the mall with anyone affected with Autism.

As for the shopping, Sunway Putra mall has 8 floors full of over 300 shops, a movie theatre, two food courts and more. We had our lunch at the all vegetarian restaurant- Simple Life in lower ground floor. I could also buy a chilled tender coconut for 5.9 MYR at the supermarket. The complex also includes a hotel (will write separately about it) and office complex. A skybridge connects the mall, hotel, LRT station and hotels on the other side of the street.

Other mall posts: Alive Museum, Suntech city mall, Singapore * Sad state of Spencer's Plaza shopping mall in Chennai * Save 60% on Indoor Skydiving at 1 Utama mall, Mayalasia * Watsale Autonomus shopping, Kochi * 

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