Datuk Haji Megat Ahmad Shahrani recalled that 20 years ago, it was difficult for him to take his autistic child out.
The president of the National Autism Society Of Malaysia (Nasom) said he often got unsympathetic looks and remarks from strangers when his child acted out in public.
At an event in Kuala Lumpur recently, Megat fought back tears as he shared what were some of the nasty comments he has received as a parent to an autistic child: “I’ve been called a parent who doesn’t know how to look after my own child. I’ve been judged for my lack of parenting skills, I’ve gotten judgmental looks and so on.
“Twenty years ago, it was hard for us parents to take our autistic child for a simple day out. Nobody knew what autism was back then.” He added: “As parents, we could only continue to fight for our autistic children. Of course it was not easy. It required a lot of patience from both the parents and child.”But as of late, Megat believes the ignorant perception towards autism has changed thanks to the film Redha. He applauded director Tunku Mona Riza for making the film.
He believes Redha – which was released in April – has helped to increase the much-needed awareness about autism. The drama starring Namron and June Lojong as parents raising an autistic child provided an eye-opening lesson in learning and understanding the developmental disorder.
“Parents with autistic children were very thankful for the way Redha visualised what we go through every day,” he said.Nasom not only gained awareness from Redha, it also received a RM30,000 contribution from GSC.
In conjunction with the film’s release during the National Autism Awareness month, GSC pledged to donate RM1 to Nasom for every ticket sold to Redha.
In her speech, GSC chief executive officer Koh Mei Lee thanked ticket buyers for doing their part for Nasom.
“By performing our small part and creating awareness of important themes that are sometimes ignored by society, we hope to walk with our customers towards understanding and appreciating this special community,” she said.
Director Mona who was also present at the cheque presentation event said it’s a wonderful feeling to see Nasom accept the donation. However, she admitted failure on her part for Redha’s dismal box office performance. The film, which cost RM3.7mil, only made RM497,071. “We’ve been trying to figure out what went wrong. Perhaps, the general audience is not ready for a film with such a heavy subject matter. Nevertheless, we’ve accepted our losses and will focus on servicing the loan we got to produce the film,” she said.
For Mona, it’s a small price to pay to promote a worthy cause. She has received positive feedback from many and is proud that Redha would go on to do its part for autism. “It has been a truly emotional journey. I am proud that Redha has come through for parents with autistic children who believe they now have a medium to tell their story. I’ve also heard from medical practitioners that they will use the film as way to educate parents,” she said.
The journey of Redha will continue internationally. Recently, Mona travelled to Cannes in France to promote Redha at Marche du Film 2016, one of the largest film markets in the world.
She also shared that Redha will be in competition at the World Premieres Film Festival in Philippines later this month.