Market Friday: Autism Art Gallery

A gallery with a difference.
The Autism Art Gallery was built with funds
contributed by The London Stock Exchange
Group Foundation.

The launching of the Autism Art Gallery was
officiated by the Deputy Premier of Sarawak,
the Honorable Prof Dato Sri Sim Kui Hian.

Everything is ready for the ribbon cutting

These beautiful paintings are created by the
students of the Kuching Autistic Association.

Beautiful necklaces that will bring out the
beauty in you.

These amazing book covers are one of our

T-shirts printed with artwork by autistic
students are available for sale.

The artworks make the mugs even more

To add variety, we also have magnets for sale.
A student doing his painting. One of the
persons instrumental to the success of the
Autism Art Project is Sheila Kho. Sheila who is an artist herself comes to the center once a
week to mentor the students. Thank you very much Sheila.

The autistic students have also created
beautiful beadworks.

A close up of the range of merchandise
available for sale.

The Autism Art Gallery is something that is very close to my heart. As some of you may know, I have an autistic son Jonathan who was diagnosed with late-onset of autism when he was 5 years. That was in the late 1990s when there was not much awareness of autism and facilities for people with autism in Kuching where we are staying were non-existence. In fact, one major reason that we bought our first home computer then was to search the internet for information on autism and to connect with other people on the world wide web.

To cut the story short, my wife Roselind and I founded the Sarawak Autistic Association together with 2 other families. My wife was the founding President while I was the founding Vice-President. We did not want to send Jonathan to the School For The Mentally Handicapped, and since there was no other alternative available, we decided to set up one ourselves. We started with nothing and the three families had to fork out money from our pockets to send the first teacher for training in Kuala Lumpur and to pay her salary.

Fast forward to today, the Association (the name of the association was changed to Kuching Autistic Association) now has its own buildings and offers services to more than 100 students. Never in my wildest dreams, would I imagine that the Association which we built from scratch would be able to achieve this level of success.

The Association runs the KAA Educational and Resource Center which offers a wide range of services to people with autism. Because most of the services are conducted on a one-to-one basis, the major expense of the Centre is staff salaries. The fees paid by the students are not able to cover the cost of running the center and so every year we need to raise funds to cover this shortfall.

The Autism Art Gallery is one of the ways that the Association uses to raise funds. The other major source of funds is our food fair. However, due to Covid, the Association's food fair has not been held for the past two years. During this pandemic, sale proceeds from the Gallery were the major contributor of funds to the Association. In 2021, the Association managed to raise over RM100,000 (USD23,000) from the Gallery.

The concept behind the Autism Art Gallery is not only to raise funds but to showcase the creative arts of work done by people with autism. Our tagline "See The Ability" aims to create awareness that people with autism have talents and abilities and are able to contribute to society in their own unique way. The Gallery also hopes to nurture the students to improve their skills and to be able to express themselves better through the art that they have created. A lot of people with autism are either non-verbal or have limited speech. Therefore by expressing themselves through their artwork, they are able to offer insights into their thinking and identity to society at large. This is also a way of building their self-esteem and self-confidence and helps them to lead dignified lives.

The Gallery has been in operation for the past 2 years. Last month, the Association invited the Deputy Premier of Sarawak, the Honorable Prof Dato Sri Dr. Sim Kui Hian to officially launched the Autism Art Gallery. This is a milestone for the association and we hope that the publicity will raise more awareness about autism.

I would also like to thank the London Stock Exchange Group Foundation for its generous support for the Gallery. The cost of renovating and furnishing the Gallery was sponsored by the Foundation. The fact that the Association was able to grow by leaps and bounds was due to the support that we had received from the community in Kuching throughout the years. I hope that the community will continue to support us in transforming the lives of people with autism.

This is my entry for #marketfriday initiated by @dswigle.


Market Friday Community

This community is where you can post your experiences of shopping in markets around the world and at the same time sharing a bit of your culture. #MarketFriday is started by the loving @dswigle who has put in lots of love to nurture the community.

The Rules Of #MarketFriday! in the words of @dswigle are as follows

  1. Go to the market, or anywhere that you pay money for a service. Take pictures! Be creative!
  2. Tell us a little bit about the market or the event. What brought you there? What did you buy? How much did it cost?
  3. Post the picture(s) Of course, you should tell a little bit about the ones you post
  4. Use the MarketFriday Community Platform to post #hive-196308 (this is not required, but appreciated)
    1. Drop the link into the MarketFriday comment section so I can find it
      6 Following me and reblogging the post so more see it would be appreciated !! Not a rule, just appreciated, more vision for more views on your posts! **7. You must put #MarketFriday by @dswigle somewhere on your post.”


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It is a wonderful thing you and your wife have done. It's such an unselfish act to set up something that benefits so many people, not just your son. Your gallery is a fabulous way to display the creativity of people diagnosed with autism.


We would want others to go through what Roselind and I had to go through. We had to run around in circles for 2 years before we are able to get the diagnosis for Jonathan. Hopefully the Association can do more to help those with autism.

Thanks for posting in the ASEAN Hive Community.

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