KUALA LUMPUR: It started with a simple class project. Little did Huda Ryaz Patel know it would lead her to becoming one of the youngest children’s book authors.
At the age of 18, the Garden International School (GIS) student has managed to publish her own children’s book about a child named Nadia who has autism.
More than 3,000 copies have already been sold across Malaysia, Singapore and the United States since the launch on April 2, with the sales amounting to RM10,000.
Huda’s book, My Name is Nadia. I have Autism, is about a 9-year-old Johorean girl, diagnosed with autism, whom Huda met while conducting research for her personal study.
The Singapore-born girl started her writing journey nine months ago after meeting Nadia and her family members.
Upon meeting Nadia and her family, Huda felt the urge to do something more to create awareness on this mental health issue.
“Getting to know Nadia in person opened up my mind. It transported me into the world of children with autism and helped me to understand more about their thoughts, behaviour and feelings,” Huda told FMT.
Talking about the lack of awareness of this condition in Malaysia, she said that she only learned about autism before this from newspapers, television and the Internet.
Aside from having the passion to create awareness about autism through her book, Huda also shared that she became fascinated by that particular disability due to its “mysteriousness”.
Sharing her experience of meeting her first child with autism, Huda said that Nadia was very unique and has strong memory recall.
“When I met her for the first time, it felt so surreal. Because it was my first time ever meeting a child with autism.
“We managed to build the bridge from time to time. As we all know, building relationships with children with autism is not easy,” said Huda, who is currently in her last year at GIS.
She said that it took her one month to write the book and the whole process to complete the book project lasted for six months.
Huda, who wishes to become a child developmental pediatrician, said that she was hopeful that the government would invest more on research as well as create greater awareness about autism.
“I really hope that the government can focus on this issue because it is an alarming matter in our country,” she said.
She added that the public, especially parents who are dealing with this issue should learn more about autism to help them and their child too.
Talking about her future goal, she hoped to go global with her book and is planning to publish another book.
“In the future, I plan to write another children’s book and this time, I would like to focus on special kids with Down Syndrome,” added Huda.
According to her, profits from the sale of her first book were donated to the National Autism Society of Malaysia (Nasom), Support for Parents, Infants and Children through Early Services (Spices) and the Early Autism Project.