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.

31 July 2014

[Poetry] Melisande’s hand

My good friend Melisande
Does strange things with her hand
She waves it like a wand
For giants in the land

My young friend Melisande
She leads a quiet band
She does this with her hand
For giants in the land

My good friend Melisande
Makes castles in the sand
Then dances to a band
A princess of the land

I don't quite understand
My good friend Melisande
The leader of the band
Who dances in the sand

But my friend Melisande
Was drawn up from the sand
By God's all-knowing hand
To live here in our land

All these things in her hand
Belong to Melisande
Who draws things with her wand
And makes them live on land

I hope to understand
My young friend Melisande
Who dances to a band
Her world, it must be grand!

This poem is a fun look at stimming, a self-stimulatory behavior associated with autism, from the point of view of a genuine friend. July 30 is the UN International Day of Friendship. If you have a poem about friendship with a person with autism, send it to, with a brief bio and photo. We will publish selected poems on the ASP blog over the calendar year.

About the poet: Patricia Marie Grace S. Gomez is a two-time Palanca Awardee for Poetry for Children "Poems from the Pantry and Prehistoric Times" and Short Story for Children "A Thousand Paper Cranes". She also has honorable mention from the Philippine Board on Books for Young People-Salanga Prize for her children's story "Pepe's Gift" about the childhood of Jose Rizal. She lives in Bacolod City with her husband Mark and their two boys Mark Jr. and Malachy.

29 July 2014

ASP co-founder leads July 19 Family Support Group

The Autism Society Philippines (ASP) held its monthly Family Support Group (FSG) last Saturday, 19 July 2014 at the National Office. It was attended by parents, grandparents, siblings, and other relatives of children with autism.

Mrs. Conchita M. Ragragio, the facilitator of FSG,was among the founding members of ASP. Titta Ragragio shared the objective of the FSG is to support parents of newly diagnosed children with autism to as an introduction of the session: 1) deal with their initial feelings about having children with autism and 2) identify pressing concerns and options to address these.

Titta Ragragio also presented questions ("How did you feel when your child was diagnosed with autism?" and "What are your concerns?") that the attendees had to answer by writing short answers on pieces of paper some says they were shock, sad and stressed. Then they tried to group similar or related answers together and stuck them on the whiteboard in front of everyone. Afterwards, there were some personal sharing of ideas and feelings, and discussion by the group.

In sharing their feelings with having CWA, one of the feelings shared were that of regret or guilt where some asked themselves questions such as "Why me?", "What's wrong with me?", or "Did I do something wrong?" Mrs. Sicam, ASP Vice President and also a founding member of ASP, shared her insights in this matter by saying that guilt would only detract you from doing the right things and you just have to do what you can and do the best that you can.

Another key topic discussed in the FSG was the subject of acceptance. Mrs. Ragragio shared that as parents of CWA, they've all must have experienced denial of their situation; but it was very important that they eventually reached acceptance. Even Mr. Cabason, ASP trustees, shared that denial would only impede the opportunity to help their children. Most if not all shared that they felt they were blessed when they knew they had their children. Even if they faced many challenges, they still felt that what they were facing were "blessings in disguise".

About the Author. Felix-Margarito D. Tablac, one of four siblings, the youngest in the family with three older sisters. Currently enrol in Ateneo de Manila University, taking up BS Electronics and Communications Engineering and subjects in Developmental Science. A member of the Ateneo Special Education Society (SPEED) which conducts regular visits to SPED Schools and Centers to interact with persons with special needs and holds other projects that advocate for persons with special needs.

27 July 2014

ASP Joins 36th NDPR Week Opening

The 36th National Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation Week celebrations took off last 17 July 2014 at Department of Foreign Affairs. Despite the nation’s capital being battered by Typhoon Glend, the DFA, NCDA, and PWD Sectors came in full force, making the opening a success. With the theme, “Talino at Paninindigan: Pasaporte sa Kaunlaran”, the events which coincided with Apolinario Mabini’s 150th birthweek, highlighted the talents and achievements of Filipino PWDs.

The day’s celebration started with the ribbon cutting of the photo and painting exhibit, “Arts in Silence: International Abilympics Champions”. The exhibit showcases the work skills excellence of PWDs who competed in International Abilympics: Dennis Balan, Jose Dela Cruz, Jason delos Reyes and Raph Torralba. Vice President Jejomar Binay and DFA Secretary Albert Del Rosario led the ribbon cutting. The Vice President then led the Wreath Laying Ceremony in the bust of Mabini inside DFA. The Holy Mass proceeded with Fr. Alexander Tomas, the Minister of Archdiocese of Manila Ministry on PWDs, presiding.
DFA Secretary Albert Del Rosario, in his speech, highlighted Mabini’s life as “a shining example of overcoming disability to realize one’s full potential. He defied expectations, demonstrated an unwavering commitment to freedom, and helped shape Philippine foreign policy.” In his keynote speech, the Vice President emphasized that the country should move as one in raising the public awareness on PWDs and urge the Filipinos to work together towards the seamless inclusion of every Filipino in the ordinary life.
His Excellency, President Benigno Aquino, delivered his NDPR message through NCDA:

My warmest greetings to the National Council on Disability Affairs as you spearhead the 36th National Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation Week.

Our nation affirms that nothing can undermine the potential of a people committed to progress. Our differently-abled countrymen are taking the lead in harnessing this potential, imparting their gifts to promote fairness and equal opportunity in diverse spheres of society. May this week-long observance infuse vigour to our cause; may it allow us to synergize our undertakings and distinguish this decade as the period when every Filipino has extended his capacity to build an enabling environment for all.

Solidarity and indomitable spirit characterize our people’s narrative. Across generations, we come upon stalwarts of this legacy, including Gat Apolinario Mabini – an exceptional man of his time – a leader, reformist, and true patriot. By examining his story and of those who triumphed despite physical odds, we become cognizant of our strength; we recognize that no circumstance can hinder us from pursuing our goals or partaking in development. Let us strive to emulate the industry, optimism, and resolve of our forbearers, that we may further this era of resurgence and bring our vision of an empowered Philippines to fruition.

About the author. Raphael Torralba is the Program Coordinator of ASP and its resident photographer. He is a former media photojournalist and a graduate of Bachelor of Science in Business Administration Major in Computer-Based Information Systems. His advocacy to serve the PWD community has been recognized by the National Council on Disability Affairs. Raph's youngest brother, Patrick, is on the spectrum.

During the launching of Apolinario Mabini Awards 2015, ASP President Jan Pena received from PFRD President Manuel Agcaoili the plaques for ASP and Chair Emeritus, Dang Koe for winning the Best Disabled Group and Best Rehabilitation Volunteer respectively in the 2013 awards. The highlight of the event was the stage musical play on the life of Mabini. The cast were composed of PWDs and non-PWDs.

26 July 2014

“Tayo na sa kabukiran” -- an ASP wellness activity

ASP Sta. Rosa spearheaded health and wellness activities last 12 July 2014 at Sweet Spring Farm in Alfonso, Cavite, owned by Secretary Francis “Kiko’ Pangilinan and family -- in celebration of the National Health Month.

The activities included a talk on natural farming, harvesting vegetables, feeding pigs with organic lettuce, yoga and preparing green smoothies. These activities were aimed to encourage PWA’s and their families develop a healthier lifestyle and create an awareness on the benefits of organic farming.

The farm tour was attended by twenty eight participants -- six PWA’s, eight teachers and family members. The participants did not only learn; but they were also able to enjoy the relaxing environment and the farm’s fresh air. They were also able to bring home the vegetables they picked from the farm, as well as received free potted herbs as souvenirs.

About the Author. Olive Medina is mom to CWA Enzo and his baby sister Lizzie. Aside from fulfilling her duties as a wife and mother, she works as General Manager for a logistics company, a part time college lecturer and part time yoga instructor. She is also the president of ASP Sta. Rosa Chapter.

25 July 2014

The 3rd Good Autism Practice Conference

The Center for Autism and Related Disorders, Inc. – Professionals for Autism Foundation, Inc. -- a long-time ASP institutional member and supporter -- conducted a conference entitled “The 3rd Good Autism Practice Conference” last 29 June 2014 at Unilab Bayanihan Center in Mandaluyong City. This conference was attended by a multitude of professionals and parents -- including ASP members and leaders, led by Ms. Jan Peña, ASP National President.

On-hand were respected speakers like Dr. Alexis Reyes, Lady Suarez, Mae Catherine Sadicon, Sunny Velasco, Juan Rapadas, Cecilia Sicam, Ma.Teresa Villanueva and Rita Grace Villadolid.

A participant shares, “It's nice to attend such seminar. It was like a family support group, especially if parents who have PWA kids share their experiences. It gives us hope, strength and will make us a better parents. The event gave us perspectives of autism which will help us understand and appreciate our child with autism.”

About the author. Imee Alviso is an ex-operating room nurse at Saint Lukes is now a full-time mom. She loves to sing, dance, play guitar, play badminton and swim with her three kids. She acts as driver, tutor and therapist to her bunso with autism. With the loving support of her expatriated husband, Imee serves as President of ASP Parañaque.

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