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.

01 July 2018

Becoming Sensory Smart

28 July 2018, Saturday

8:00AM - 12:00NN

“What is the best way to help my child with Autism who has sensory issues?” With so many available treatments, seminars, and online articles about Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), the process of choosing strategies for helping children with this condition can be overwhelming for parents. Professional opinions might conflict. Fees for therapy services can be very expensive.

To empower parents, this seminar-workshop will help them:

  •  Understand the basic science of sensory integration (SI)

  • Identify SI difficulties among children who are diagnosed with ASD

  • Use sensory-based strategies along with the most effective occupational therapy (OT) interventions in addressing sensory processing problems at home, in school, and in the community.

  • About the Speaker:
    Maria Anya Paola P. Sanchez is an occupational therapy consultant at the St. Luke’s Medical Center, the Independent Living Learning Centre, and the Functional Literacy Labworks. She is also the program coordinator of the Apple Tree Integrated School, an inclusive academic institution that has a school-based therapy clinic. Her experiences in a variety of settings have given her broad perspectives about the impact of sensory processing difficulties across the lifespan. She integrates sensory approaches within an occupation-based framework to help children and adults with developmental conditions live life to the full.

    Teacher Anya graduated from the University of the Philippines Manila with the degree of Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy in April 2008. She has a Professional Teaching Certification (PTC) from the UP Open University. She also took up basic and advanced courses in Occupational Safety and Health so that she can promote the workplace inclusion of persons who have developmental conditions.

    Seminar Details:
    Date: 28 July 2018, Saturday
    Time: 8:00AM - 12:00NN
    Venue: Quality Life Discoveries
    No. 70 20th Avenue, Project 4, Quezon City, Philippines

    Seminar Fees:
    Pre-Registration (until July 24 or until slots last)
    ASP Member – P 400.00
    Non-member – P 600.00

    Onsite Registration
    ASP Member – P 500.00
    Non-member – P 700.00

    Pre-registered participants may pay to Autism Society Philippines, Metrobank, Kamias Branch Account Number 047-3-04751874-2. Please email the scan copy of your deposit slip with the name/s of participant/s and contact numbers to and bring it on the day of the seminar. On-site registrants or walk- in will be accepted depending on the availability of slots. There will only be 70 slots available. No refund will be given to participants who do not show up on the date of the seminar. For more details, please call ASP at 02-903-5496.

    The ASP Education and Empowerment Program serves as a platform to educate Filipino parents and professionals on the various interventions, modalities and theories surrounding Autism Spectrum Disorder. Their application and implementation are left at your discretion. The views and personal experiences of the speakers are their own and may not necessarily reflect the views of the organization.

    29 June 2018

    The shared journey toward a UP sablay

    Yesterday marked the end of a chapter and the beginning of another in Klarenz's life as he graduated from the premier university of the Philippines. Even though it was a joyous, momentous day, my brother had to overcome a lot of obstacles that would have kept him from graduating. It's only right to properly thank the people who were part of his journey and share his story in the hopes of inspiring others.

    My earliest memory of Klarenz was riding a yellow jeepney to get to the hospital where he was born. I was only 8 1/2 years old so I didn't realize that it was a mere 1-minute ride from where I hailed a jeepney at the roundabout in Olongapo. He was such a beautiful baby. While I was frequently mistaken for a boy, he was often mistaken for a girl -- long eyelashes, black doll eyes, fair skin, plump cheeks. I couldn't wait to hold him in my arms. One day, when our mom went out to buy supplies at the store, I was left with my two younger brothers. Karlo and I couldn't resist cradling baby Bunso and peppering him with kisses. My mom caught us, of course, but I thought I had had enough practice holding Karlo and our younger cousins to know that I could carry our baby brother.

    Then, when he was around two, we started to wonder why he wasn't speaking like kids his age. At the dinner table, he would mumble what seemed like gibberish (we even quipped he was speaking a mixture of Chinese, Russian, and Spanish!) though we would later on realize that there was a pattern to all his jibber jabber. Still, it was very concerning as this continued for the next few years. Finally, when he was around 5 years old, we went to a specialist. A penchant for lining up his toys but not playing with them, no eye contact, selective attention -- he was diagnosed with autism. I didn't fully understand it then, but I knew that there was a problem. That there would be more problems.

    One time, when I was guiding his hand so he could learn how to write the letters of the alphabet, his Y kept turning into an X. I was in high school at the time, but I remember our dad picking up Karlo and me from our respective schools in Subic Bay and going to the Sinag SPED Center in town. Klarenz went there for a year so he could learn to be independent, be more sociable, and lose certain habits, such as asking his teachers to smell his armpit (It was cute then, but we knew it wouldn't be seen that way anymore when he's older). It was the place where we started learning about the needs of special individuals, and one of the most memorable characteristics of the kids in his class was that they were all so very sweet. Most of them were shy at first, but once they've warmed up to you, they're very generous with hugs. Their parents, such as Tita Grace, were naturally some of the most understanding people you would ever meet. Lorenz's mom, Tita Edna, is one of the foremost autism advocates in our hometown. Klarenz was only there for a year thanks mainly to Teacher Marie and Teacher Malou, who are such kind souls. Their job takes so much strength and patience, but they were like a second mom to everyone in that class.

    For the next three years, Klarenz would study at a regular public school for him to be integrated into mainstream classes. There wasn't a lack of issues there for sure. He was the "spokening dollar" kid. Many of the other kids and their parents didn't know how to act around Klarenz and our family. It was around that time when I went to college. Before going to UP, though, I gathered some of my dad's research as well as did my own, hoping to learn that there's a cure or some way to ease our family's concerns. Until now, scientists are still trying to figure out the exact causes of autism.

    It was obvious that Klarenz wasn't getting the intellectual stimulation he needed because he easily got bored in class. Consequently, in fourth grade, he was transferred to the Center of Excellence (CENTEX) in Olongapo. There he and my parents met their future allies and friends in high school and beyond. My younger brothers and cousins in Subic all went to the same high school I did. A school that I was very proud of, that is, until I heard about the incidents. While at a team building weekend in Tagaytay, I was on the phone with my mom when I learned about what was happening. His classmates had put him in one of the closets. They put bleach in his bag. One time, he and another kid were sent to the principal's office, and the other kid's parent cursed and yelled at my brother. Students, and parents bullied him. Teachers were not equipped to handle such situations. The principal then threatened to expel my brother. Those people cornered, provoked, and undermined my brother, not once, not twice, but several times over the years. They failed to understand what was lacking: the training to address such concerns and, more importantly, compassion. While my vengeful soul wanted to get back at the perpetrators, our dad managed to stay logical. No charges were made but a trained counselor was asked to give a seminar at school. According to our mom, things got better after that.

    We were jubilant when Klarenz also got admitted to UP. At first, he was enrolled at Los BaƱos pursuing a degree in Applied Physics. However, as it was soon apparent that his heart was not really in it (and it was costly to maintain more than one house), we changed our strategy. With the help of my boyfriend, we were able to see how a degree in Library and Information Science would not only be more in line with Klarenz's strengths and interests, but the school also has one of the most supportive communities in UP Diliman. In August 2014, he began his 3-year journey in SLIS. Every day, our mom prepared meals and clothes for Klarenz while our dad tutored him. Our relatives, especially Big T, always showed their support in one way or another.

    Fast forward to graduation day (because he had a lot of encouragement from family, friends, teachers, and classmates so there wasn't really any drama). This time yesterday, Klarenz shifted his sablay from right to left, an action symbolic of the success achieved when people support each other. Bunso, we have always believed in what you can do. We know that you can achieve even more. No matter what you decide to do next, we will support you.

    Congratulations, Klarenz! Padayon, UP!

    About the contributor. Krys Quinones is a doting sibling to PWA Klarenz. This article was first published on Krys' Facebook timeline on 25 June 2018 -- #familyisforever

    27 June 2018

    ASP PWAy Day for the Month of July

    Autism … offers a chance for us to glimpse an awe-filled vision of the world that might otherwise pass us by --- Dr. Colin Zimbleman, Ph.D.

    The Autism Society Philippines Wednesday "PWAy Day" aims to provide enrichment for teens and adults with autism who are not currently enrolled in schools. ASP PWAy Days will offer opportunities to learn new skills, to socialize with non-family members and to have fun. This will be every Wednesday, from 2pm to 4pm at ASP Headquarters. This is open to all PWAs, 16 years old and above.

    On July 4 - we will have Indoor Games for Adults with Autism. This activity will help adults with autism to increase and develop the following: social interaction among other PWAs, help your PWAs to seek out lifelong friendships while learning how to take turns and partake in socially appropriate behaviors, build the skills required for communication through playing and interacting, physical activity is also suggested to improve self-esteem. Participants must wear comfortable shoes, bring extra shirt, water and a simple snacks.

    On July 11 - we will have Beads Making.  A beads is a small, decorative object that is formed in a variety of shapes and sizes of a material such as stone, bone, shell, glass, plastic, wood or pearl and with a small hole for threading or stringing. This activity is excellent leisure activity for adults with autism, promoting PWAs' development in the following areas: Fine Motor Skills - in terms of grasping various sizes of beads. Larger beads often promote the "3-jaw chuck" grasp, similar to holding a large pencil or marker. Smaller beads encourage to use their pincer grasp, thus strengthening the small muscles of their hands. In-hand manipulation skills, many components of making a beaded craft increase strength and coordination in the small hand and finger muscles. Visual Perceptual Skills - Visual Discrimination, Scanning, Visual Memory. They must be able to remember the beading pattern to determine the bead they want to use. Once they know what bead they want, visual discrimination assists them in selecting the bead that fits their mental image of the desired bead. Visual Motor Skills - Eye-Hand coordination - Threading beads onto a string involves bilateral coordination of the child's hands, and requires their eyes and hands to work together. Cognitive Skills - Planning what style of necklace does they want to make? What pattern will they choose? Where are all the materials needed to complete this beading activity? this develops his/her planning and problem-solving skills. Social Skills- promote sharing and cooperation, as they choose beads and complete their projects in a group setting.

    On July 18 - (CANCELLED. MOVE TO JULY 25)  we will make  Home Made Ice Cream. Our adult with autism will make their own ice cream in minutes. Homemade ice cream is so good and you can make it with just a few ingredients and no special equipment. We will not use any ice cream maker, just a simple method that PWAs will surely enjoy. This will teach the PWAs on proper food hygiene, simple food preparation, and presentation. Participants must bring their own hair net, apron, plastic container/tupperware and wear closed shoes (no slippers or sandals please). Prepare a P200 donation when you get on-site.

    On July 25 - we will make  Home Made Ice Cream. Our adult with autism will make their own ice cream in minutes. Homemade ice cream is so good and you can make it with just a few ingredients and no special equipment. We will not use any ice cream maker, just a simple method that PWAs will surely enjoy. This will teach the PWAs on proper food hygiene, simple food preparation, and presentation. Participants must bring their own hair net, apron, plastic container/tupperware and wear closed shoes (no slippers or sandals please). Prepare a P200 donation when you get on-site.

    "Adults with autism who are no longer in school end up in the fringes of society." Mona Magno-Veluz, ASP National President shares, "ASP is deeply invested in building a society where a individuals with autism be the best of their potentials -- self-reliant, independent, productive and socially-accepted members of the community -- no matter where they are on the spectrum. By keeping PWAs active and engaged outside the home, we are also training the society to be more aware of what autism is, to be more appreciative of their gifts and to be more accommodating of their deficits."

    25 June 2018

    Family Support Group for the month of July

    ASPs monthly family support group sessions bring together parents, siblings and other family members to talk about their journey in living with autism. Participants share their experiences and draw enlightenment and strength from others going through the same challenges. We welcome members and non-members to this intimate gathering. New ASP members are encouraged to join.

    Mommy Peng So is a current ASP National Trustee. Peng juggles between being a full-time, hands-on-mom to her two gems on the spectrum, Patrick and Angelo; and, with her husband, empowering her other adult children in handling the family business. Peng has inspired many with her fortitude in guiding her two sons on the spectrum. Patrick graduated from the Ateneo de Manila University with a degree in BS Life Sciences and has taken a certification course in UST and is now Certified Securities Specialist. Angelo ,on the other hand, undergoes functional life skills and pre-vocational training in a SPED program. By a fortunate stroke of serendipity, Peng was introduced to ASP and autism advocacy; and she has never looked back. Advocating for autism acceptance and inclusion has become a part of her daily agenda. She inspires others to think beyond the autism diagnosis and to enrich the lives of children with autism by gifting them with valuable life experiences.

    Date: 21 July, Saturday
    Time: 1:00PM - 4:00PM
    Venue: Autism Society Philippines National Headquarters
    Address: #9 11th Jamboree Street cor. Sct. Fuentebella, Brgy. Sacred Heart, Quezon City

    Sign up for the Family Support Group via the on-line form below or call +632 903 5496. Only 15 seats are available.

    21 June 2018

    The Neurofeedback approach

    Ryan* is a 10 year old boy in the autism spectrum. As is typical of his condition, he is unable to express himself verbally, shuns social play and displays impulsivity and hyperactivity. His mom enrolled him in Neurofeedback to augment his therapy and after numerous sessions, his speech is more intelligible and output has increased, even initiating conversation at times. He looks forward to parties and playtime with other kids and his tantrums have lessened. His mother shares, “He is more focused, relaxed and happy, able to control himself when he is upset.”

    Largely neglected nowadays is the fact that autism, ADHD and many other behavioral conditions is connected to the brain. Though its exact origins are still a mystery, research has shown that structure (bigger brains due to overgrowth) and connectivity (degree of communication between the different regions) of a brain with autism is different from a typically-developing one. Moreover, such conditions are not only features of chemical imbalances, as is more popularly known, but dysregulation of brain wave activity as well. Brain waves (namely beta, alpha, theta and delta) are electrical frequencies that code our mental, emotional and behavioral states. If these fire too fast or too slow, our ability to focus, to relax, to speak, to control impulses, among others, becomes suboptimal. Thanks to developments in neurotechnology, the brain can now actively balance itself—through Neurofeedback.

    Neurofeedback trains the brain to self-regulate by providing real-time information of its brain wave activity. It starts with a Brain Map to determine if functional centers, responsible for a certain skill set such as attention, speech, mood, memory, etcetera, are overactive or underactive. These imbalanced sites are then targeted for training. In a session, sensors are attached to the scalp to measure and pick up (no electricity or radiation is emitted!) brain wave activity that is converted into images and sounds. The brain therefore uses these sensory cues to regulate itself and is positively reinforced through visual and auditory rewards.
    One can think of Neurofeedback as brain wave exercise. The specific skill centers in the brain are put on a fitness regimen and regular, weekly training sessions result in structural and functional changes. After all, the brain is plastic! Neurofeedback is benched on the core principle of neuroplasticity, which is the brain’s ability to change physically and functionally in response to learning. With Neurofeedback, the brain learns to produce healthier patterns that will make the brain work more efficiently. By strengthening the brain’s speech center, the child increases his verbal output. By regulating his attention center, he learns to focus more and be less hyperactive.

    Conventional modalities such as occupational therapy, speech therapy, ABA, among others, are still necessary and indispensable. Gut health too is exceedingly crucial as research in the last decade has proven the digestive microbiota’s role in controlling mood and behavior. If however the child has tried everything with minimal results, then there is a huge chance that his brain is not functioning optimally. One must take a neural approach. Adding Neurofeedback to the therapeutic picture boosts the child’s progress because it provides a direct route to the brain in a safe, painless and non-invasive way. This restoration of the brain’s balance and flexibility optimizes one’s skills and enables a better quality of life.

    *Not his real name. The Autism Society Philippines does not endorse specific interventions -- medical, pharmacological, therapeutic or nutritional. We feel that informed decisions on the holistic health of individuals with autism -- well-suited to their unique situation -- should be made by individual with autism and his family. Our responsibility is to make information available to our membership.

    About the contributor. Dr. Cheryl Ramirez is the Clinical Director of Mindworks Center for Mind Health, located at Unit 311 Narra Building, 2276 Chino Roces Ave. Extension, Makati City. Contact numbers are +63 2 553 5943 or +63 916 735 5014.

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