Special needs class helps to unearth artistic talent


Alistair and Sim at the mini exhibition.

KUCHING: SMK Demak Baru’s special needs class has been credited with unearthing the artistic talents of 19-year-old student Alistair Sim.

Alistair, who is in his final year, began studying at the school when he was 13.

Alistair’s father Sim Kiang Chiok said aside from teaching students to properly manage themselves, the school helped to discover that Alistair, who is autistic, is good in painting.

His artwork includes both abstract and realism.

“He mostly drew on the computer but then discovered YouTube videos, which he learned the techniques from and produced his own paintings.

“He started painting with acrylic last December,” Sim said during Alistair’s first mini exhibition at the Sarawak-level Thank You Teacher – Teachers’ Day celebration at Mydin Petra Jaya yesterday.

Alistair’s artwork will later be displayed at the Perkata Special School.

His teacher Ruhana Bujang said SMK Demak Baru has been offering the special needs class since 2002 focusing on academics, skills, and living skills or self-management.

She explained that students don’t follow the usual school syllabus as the curriculum is based on the individual needs of students, with those who are academically inclined placed in inclusive classes.

“What the students learn is based on their ability, and those taking skills classes may even get simple jobs if they don’t have behavioural problems. Mydin, for example, does hire them,” she said.

“Or at the very least, they can take care of themselves and be more self-reliant.”

The special needs students include those with Down syndrome, slow learners, and autism.

Students are usually aged between 15 and 19, but Alistair started earlier upon his parents’ request.

There are currently 106 special needs students enrolled in the school.