A Malaysian Oasis for those with learning differences | Oasis Place, EO Malaysia
Updated: Apr 7
Parents always want what is best for their children, no matter what. There are cases where a child is born with challenges from birth. Some will view them as adversities, but there is usually a silver lining that comes . Earlier in the year, we took a look at how EO Thailand member Chef Walter Lee and his son Zy turned adversity into an advocacy through the Zy Movement Foundation. Their story showed us how physical obstacles can be overcome, no matter how difficult they are. This week, we take a look at a multi-disciplinary intervention centre in Kuala Lumpur that is helping children with learning differences face their own challenges.
Dr. Choy Sook Kuen of EO Malaysia opened Oasis Place in 2014, the country’s first and largest multi-disciplinary intervention centre for children and adults. In under half a year, the core team and leaders came together to create a new environment to help those with learning differences and their families to get the best help available.
The story of Oasis Place begins with one story: that of Dr. Sook Kuen’s son, Joshua. When a neurologist friend of Dr. SK noticed that Joshua was displaying telltale symptoms of autism, the family began the process of testing, evaluations, and check ups. All of these were only the first steps that anyone can take before the healing process could begin. It took a total of 5 months to diagnose Joshua with Pervasive Development Disorder-NOS, a group of conditions that involve delays in the development of some basic life skills. Over the course of the next three years, Dr. SK would travel around the world to learn more about how they could get Joshua the best help possible. Notably, Dr. SK would head to the U.S., attending a number of conferences to meet doctors and engaging with other parents wherever she went. In time, the family found an intervention plan that balanced dietary and occupational therapy that would help Joshua progress into a happy and healthy boy. The hard work paid off after regular therapy appointments and a lot of support from family and friends. In April of 2019, Joshua celebrated his 10th birthday, with almost no signs of autism to those unfamiliar with the symptoms. When we touched base with Dr. SK, she let us know that Joshua performs excellently in school, and continues to play a vital role in Oasis Place today as their main inspiration.
A Happy place to find help
Not every journey begins at the right time, or yields the best possible outcome. One of the most important lessons that parents and caregivers around the world are told is that the earlier the detection, the sooner intervention can begin. In the case of Joshua, so many lessons were learned by starting the process early in his development, leading to the right kind of treatment. Those lessons of how to deal with all of the processes, and how to find support from their community proved invaluable in the long run for Dr. SK. This proved exactly the help she would need when she chose to build a one-of-a-kind team to operate a one-of-a-kind destination for those seeking treatment for learning differences. It took about three months for Dr. SK to gather that world-class team in Kuala Lumpur, and the rest as they say was history.
After their first few years of operations, Oasis Place has become known as one of the finest centers of its kind in the region. The level of care that Oasis Place provides is unlike that of any clinic or hospital in Malaysia, primarily because of their individualized approach to treatment. The centre focuses on working with children and adults with autism, while also addressing a wide spectrum of developmental delays and disabilities. This is a game changer in a way, since not many therapy centers have the infrastructure to provide appropriate care for older clients, instead limiting their work to a younger set. No matter what age a client comes to Oasis, their holistic programs are known to help both the clients and their families get some of the best possible support available.
One of the things you have to understand about Oasis Place is that their approach means that no individual therapy plan is the same. From the very first pre-assessment form, you begin to see that this clinic takes things very seriously. In Dr. SKs speaking engagements, she has also been an advocate of the saying that treating one person’s autism makes you familiar with only one person’s autism, meaning each case is world’s apart from every other case.
Oasis shows a high attention to detail, looking at learning differences from multiple angles. Through each assessment, they gather boatloads of quantitative and qualitative data, all in the hope of identifying potential intervention vectors. They ask key questions about previous assessments, family history of learning differences, previous hearing and eye exams, even going as far as asking parents to describe early months of their children’s life. By looking at a client’s differences this way, Oasis Place can then start developing a very well informed plan of action once therapy actually begins. The level of insight that Oasis gathers is just the first step of many in the journey to beating learning differences. Following the battery of interviews, and questions Oasis invites their clients and their parents to several assessment sessions at the facility to see how the kids handle different settings. Potential clients will have an opportunity to show to the team at Oasis how they handle themselves in a speech & language, psychological, and occupational therapy sessions. These sessions give vital baseline data that specialists can used later on during to get the best out of future intervention periods.
Therapy is just the beginning
At their core, the Oasis Place team looks to provide the best possible care for their clients. Their philosophy of treating everyone as individuals goes a long way towards creating a nurturing environment during interventions. The centre welcomes everyone seeking help, including the family members of their clients. Oasis understands that every case may require individualized programs for intervention, and also that every client needs a support system to get through the trials along the way. What they have created is, in every sense, a community that uplifts one another.
In the heart of Kuala Lumpur, at their expansive central location, the team at Oasis has the opportunity to work and play with their younger clients. They have a lot of space for these children to express themselves, all without having to worry about things getting crowded. Their centre also boasts a 130-person lecture hall that has been used as a multipurpose space for both clients, parents, and the Oasis Place team to learn and grow. The considerations for space allow everyone involved to grow in a constructive setting, something that flies under the radar in building a therapeutic environment . This kind of nurturing setting gives anyone entering their doors a unique space to find the best possible help.
After the assessment proper, clients can expect the team at Oasis to provide a number of recommendations for treatment after several weeks. Oasis Place offers a range of interdisciplinary intervention services that can be divided into 6 major categories: Psychology, Speech and Language Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Music Therapy, Continuous Education and Nutrition services. These varied aspects of their total therapy approach are available for children, adolescents and adults of all abilities and ages. Oasis always aims to involve the “outside world” with them, conducting their work in conjunction with their younger clients’ schools. This kind of integration involves healing at multiple levels, not only within the confines of Oasis itself. The official website does provide an incredibly detailed listing about the work that they do, from the assessment process to the services they provide. Living their best life Where Oasis Place has made the biggest difference is in their ability to help their clients live their best life. The dedicated care, the relationships they build, and the specialization of their services has seen massive improvements for their young clients. Their founder Dr. SK acknowledges that as they continue to support early intervention up to the young adult set, there is a need to provide support for the older learning different community. In the workplace, the differently abled face a whole new set of challenges. From acquiring work, to sustaining themselves as professionals with dignity, Oasis looks to provide assistance where they can as the leading service provider for these people. In time, they hope to grow their expertise in more dynamic therapeutic interventions, integrating their learnings from the community into the workforce at large.
At the end of the day, Oasis Place looks to provide help to those who come through their doors. The results will always vary from case to case, client to client, but over the years, Oasis has seen many success stories. The amount of time that families invest has given Dr. SK and her team many heartwarming stories from the parents, grandparents and siblings, many of whom continue to inspire the team at Oasis Place to do the excellent work that they do. One constant source of that energy continues to be found in Joshua, the proximate inspiration for Oasis Place. His progress has continued to serve as a guiding light, motivating the team to push the boundaries of what is possible at all stages of intervention. The Oasis Place community is always proud to share his story, and the many success stories like his. It is their continued dedication to be a beacon to those who need help the most.
Oasis Place can be found at Level 16 Menara Sentral Vista, 150 Jalan Sultan Abdul Samad, Brickfields in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. You can learn more about them on their Facebook page, with incredibly detailed information on their official website.