The Autism Society Philippines (ASP) is a national, non-profit organization dedicated to the well-being of persons with autism spectrum disorder. The ASP has been in the forefront of providing services and training to families living with autism.

22 November 2014

The rise of autism tech

The Autism Society Philippines was privileged to be among the forward-thinking organizations who participated in “The Era of Brain Technologies” delivered by Dr. Ned Sahin at the Mind Museum Taguig last 14 November 2014 -- part of a series of Executive Talks organized by First Pacific Leadership Academy. I was a parent-slash-advocate-slash-technologist among industry leaders, software developers, autism advocates and educators from ASP institutional members (such as Bridges Foundation, CARD, ILLC, Shine and TLC).


Dr. Ned Sahin is a neuroscientist and neurotechnology entrepreneur. He hold degrees in neuroscience from Williams College (BA), MIT (Master’s), and Harvard (PhD) and did a year of study at Oxford and post-doctoral fellowships at UCSD Medical School and the Salk Institute in San Diego.

Dr. Sahin’s talk first dealt with what current brain research today is making possible; and the great strides happening in wearable technology and implants, to monitor cognitive functions of individuals in high stress situations, such as soldiers; and to assist patients with disabilities correlated to reduced brain functions.

Dr. Sahim prefaced his talk on the work of Brain Power LLC with what many do not know about autism -- “There is no medical procedure that can test autism. There are no remarkable physiological differences in an autistic brain. Autism can be detected only through behavior.” I found endearing his compassionate understanding of autism and the effect the condition has on the person with autism and the family.

Dr. Sahin’s work on wearable technology for individuals with autism was the highlight of the afternoon. Using Google Glass (a computing eyewear with an optical head-mounted display and Google’s first attempt at mass-market ubiquitous technology), Dr. Sahin has developed software and hardware to help address the main deficits of autism and the needs of the family members and caregivers. His technology assists the individual with autism by developing attention span, tolerance to visual stimuli, metalinguistic skills, and capabilities for emotional decoding. The solution is able to address autism’s social and language deficits through its ability to quantify behavior (for example, percentage a PWA looks when his name is called) and count movement (such as blinking of the eyes or bowing of the head); through gamification that rewards desired behavior; through algorithms that analyze facial patterns; among many others.

Dr. Sahin showed videos of children and young adults with autism trying on the headgear for the first time and adapting with success; as well as images of Dr. Temple Grandin geeking out over this new technology.

So what lies in the future of autism tech? Dr. Sahin emphasized the role technology and the “internet of things” will play in the coming years, especially in terms of augmenting normal human cognitive abilities. He shared his excitement over the possibility of contextual, predictive and prescriptive analytics. Insight from large data sets captured by the Google glass can revolutionize how individuals with autism interact with the world and how the world understands autism.

We look forward to the day the technology becomes commercial and makes it to the Philippine shores!

*****
In celebration of the National Autism Consciousness Week in January 2015, the Autism Society Philippines is organizing a seminar on “Adaptive and Assistive Technologies for Persons with Autism.” Please watch for further announcements on our FB page and http://www.autismsocietyphilippines.org.

About the contributor.  Mona Magno-Veluz serves as the National President of the Autism Society Philippines and is a self-confessed technology "geek". She received degrees in Business Administration, Applied Economics and Strategic Marketing from the University of the Philippines Diliman, University of Asia and the Pacific and the London School of Business. Drawing from her experience as a corporate communications professional in multinational technology companies, she helped grow the national advocacy initiatives such as the 1Pangako campaign and the ASP Angel Corps. Her eldest is PWA Carl, a young man working in their family business and growing his budding entrepreneurial venture. This article first appeared in Mighty Magulang.

19 November 2014

ASP-NCDA continues partnership towards an autism inclusive Philippines

The Autism Society Philippines continues its commitment to inclusive development through active participation and partnership with the various government units from the local to national -- such as the National Council on Disability Affairs. The NCDA is the national government agency mandated to formulate policies and coordinate the activities of all agencies concerning disability issues. As such, the NCDA has become a valuable partner to help steer the course of program development for persons with autism and other exceptionalities and the delivery of services to the disability sector.


At the cusp of the commemoration of the International Day of PWDs in December 2014 and the National Autism Consciousness Week in January 2015, ASP National President Mona Magno-Veluz met one-on-one with Acting Executive Director Carmen Zubiaga last 07 November 2014 to review past engagements and align our future plans -- reinforcing both parties' continuous commitment to creating an autism inclusive Philippines.

ASP will continue to be strongly represented by ASP Vice President Alejandro Cabason, reinforced by the participation of ASP Trustee Marivic Ramos, in the NCDA sub-committees on 1) Access to Justice, 2) Accessibility on Built Environment and Transportation, 3) Advocacy, 4) Auxilliary Social Services, 5) Education, 6) Health, 7) Information, Communications and Technology, 8) International Disability Network, 9) Training, Employment and Livelihood.

*****

ASP leaders, members and volunteers who have strong professional credentials to contribute to the advocacy effort and who are able and willing to attend weekday meetings to represent our organization at a national level may send a letter of introduction and resume to ASP National President Mona Magno-Veluz at autismphils@gmail.com.

17 November 2014

Understanding Persons with Disabilities: Journey with Autism

Autism Society Philippines in partnership with St. Jude College Manila commemorates the UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities with a seminar on autism on 6 December 2014, Saturday.

Understanding Autism: A Family's Journey and a Society's Advocacy
Speaker: Erlinda “Dang” Uy Koe

This talk goes beyond the usual definition, prevalence, symptoms and other facts and figures of autism spectrum disorder. Intertwined with the usual autism orientation is the heartwarming story of families touched by autism: from their denial and heartaches to embracing their children with autism and finding their purposes in life; from self-preservation to collaboration with the community of other families, professionals, schools, government and business partners.

Erlinda Uy Koe received the 2013 Gawad Apolinario Mabini as Outstanding Rehabilitation Volunteer and UST’s Outstanding Thomasian Alumni Award for Humanitarian Service in 2009, Both awards for her autism advocacy work. She is the first Chairman Emeritus of Autism Society Philippines, after serving an unprecedented three consecutive terms (2004 to 2009) of trail­blazing leadership as the National President. She wrote for her "Angels Talk" column on autism concerns for the Manila Bulletin. She is also a much sought-after speaker, sharing hopes and building dreams among Filipino families touched with autism in many parts of the country. Dang graduated with degrees in Communication Arts from the University of Santo Tomas and the University of the Philippines. She is the mother to three boys, including 20 year­-old Gio who is in the Autism Spectrum and who propels her to be a passionate autism advocate.

Care and Intervention Across the Autism Spectrum
Speaker: Evert L. Malapad, MA Educ SPED

The topic will focus on the process of diagnosis and educational intervention of children with autism from early childhood to adulthood and the common issues across the life span,the role of the professionals in the intervention process, and the programs to be taught particularly in the adolescent stage, the skills that a person with autism need to acquire in preparation to adulthood and independent living and possible placement for employment.

Evert L. Malapad, or Sir Evert, as he is fondly called, is a seasoned ASP trainor. He is a proud father of daughters Ella and Mae-mae (who lives with autism). He is a former member of the Board of Trustees of Autism Society Philippines, former President of ASP-Metro South Chapter, and an active advocate of persons with disabilities. He is a licensed Secondary Education Teacher (with Major in Technology and Livelihood Education), holder of Masters of Arts in Education Degree, major in Special Education, and a certified TESDA Instructor. He currently teaches Vocational and Life Skills Program at the NeuroDevelopment Center, University of Perpetual Medical Center, works as a Job and Life Coach for Individual with Special Needs and implements Home Program for children with very challenging behaviors. He is one of the advisers of ASP-Paranaque and ASP- Las Pinas Chapters.

Seminar Details

Topic:   Seminar on Understanding Persons with Disability: Journey with Autism
Date:    6 December 2014, Saturday
Time:   8:00AM - 5:00PM
Venue:  St. Jude College-Manila Auditorium GYM Dimasalang cor. Don Quijote St.,
Sampaloc , Manila
Map:    http://bit.ly/11xb2SX

Seminar Fees

Pre-reg. *until December 1
ASP Member - P350.00
Non-Member - P350.00

On-Site Registration
ASP Member - P400.00
Non-Member - P500.00

Seminar Fee is inclusive of certificate and handouts will be send via email. For more details, please call Jeng Rodriguez, Secretary of ASP UP CAMP Manila chapter to register at 0922-896-9612 / 0923-408-0825 or Jan Peña, ASP Board of Trustee at 0920-824-7636 / 0915-985-7828.

14 November 2014

An ASP Advocate at the Pre-Summit on Children

As an active self-advocate representing Autism Society Philippines and my home chapter of ASP-Laguna, I attended the Pre-Summit on Children last 25 October 2014 at the Council for the Welfare of Children office in Barangay Santa Teresita, Quezon City.


I participated in the said event, along with other children and youth coming from different parts of the country, as they tackle and discuss issues involving Filipino children in preparation for the Summit on Children, to be held sometime in the first quarter of 2015. I was accompanied by Ms. Catherine Lopez, mentor and ASP-Laguna Chapter president.

During the Pre-Summit, I talked about my experience in the first ASEAN Children's Forum (ACF), which was held in October 2010 at Fontana Leisure Park in Clark Freeport, Pampanga. Moreover, I represented the Philippines together with two other delegates in the presentation of the ACF report in the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Social Welfare and Development in Brunei Darussalam in November 2010.

Another participant talked about her experience as a delegate in the 2012 Philippine National Children's Conference, which was held at Lancaster Hotel in Mandaluyong City.

Some of the issues I raised in the pre-conference were:
* Family - The changing face of the family (single-parent households, OFW parents, same-sex couples having adopted children)

* Citizenship and governance - Freedom of information or full disclosure and the nanny state (the term he used for a large institution like the government, non-government sector, corporate sector dominating over policies involving personal choice)

* Media platforms - Doxing (a “practice of investigating and revealing one’s personally identifiable information without consent”), corruption in campus journalism and among youth bloggers

* Climate change - A comprehensive landuse program for all Local Government Units to determine areas at risk (earthquakes, lava flow, typhoons, etc.)

* Other concerns - Malnutrition among children and the youth, children beggars/mendicants and children with disabilities and how they can cope with daily challenges plus their transition to adulthood.

The best part of the pre-conference is that the participants raised valid concerns that affect
children and the youth while simultaneously offering solutions for it. The participants are
confident that they can make an impact on Filipino children and the youth and they are hoping
that those issues will be raised in the third Summit for Children next year.

On my part, I am hoping that some, if not all, of the issues tackled will be raised among
critical decision-makers in the country: from school administrators to the barangay
leaders to city and municipal mayors to provincial governors to legislators to cabinet
heads to eventually the head of state. I am hoping that their decisions will positively affect
Filipino children and the youth, especially Filipino children and young persons with disabilities.

About the contributor. Ian Ferdinand Lopez is a scholar of the provincial government of Laguna, studying BA Sociology at the University of the Philippines Los Baños. Diagnosed with autism when he was three years old, he benefitted from the care of loving parents and early intervention professionals; and was successfully mainstreamed from pre-school up to high school. His started his advocacy as part of the Autism Resource Center and represented the PWD sector in the Philippine National Children’s Conference, the PWD Empowerment Seminar, the ASEAN Children’s Forum and the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Social Welfare and Development (AMMSWD).

12 November 2014

DOH holds planning workshop on autism

The Department of Health held a National Planning Session on Autism at the Citystate Towers Hotel Malate, Manila last 4-5 November 2014.

Assistant Secretary of Health for the Visayas Cluster Dr. Paulyn Ubial gave the synthesis of the Autism Consultative Workshop held in March 2014. There were 4 major areas of concern identified: research policy, planning and program development; medical management including allied professionals; diagnostics; and family and community support. The group also came up with a 3-tiered system of diagnosis: screening by baranggay health worker using PEDS, pediatricians using MChat, and last, developmental pediatricians.


As the DOH treads on the path of enginering the the department’s autism agenda, critical to success would be the calibration with the other stakeholders to autism management in the country -- DILG, DSWD, DepEd, developmental pediatricians, allied medical professionals, special educators and concerned DPOs with a large community base like the ASP.

The autism community looks forward to improved government funded diagnosis and therapy services for more families in more areas in the country.

About the contributor. Cecile Sicam is one of the 11 original founders of the Autism Society Philippines. She has served ASP in many capacities, as President from 2000 to 2004; and as its current Secretary. Ces has been instrumental in the founding of educational non-profits, including Bridges Foundation where she is currently its Directress. Her adult son on the spectrum, Likas, is employed full time as RnB Ice Plant.

 
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