The Autism Society Philippines (ASP) is a national, non-profit organization dedicated to the well-being of persons on the autism spectrum disorder. We envision a society where Filipinos on the spectrum become the best of their potentials -- self-reliant, independent, productive, socially-accepted citizens of an Autism-OK Philippines.

23 January 2021

Message of Hope: Leni Robredo

Isang mainit na pagbati sa The Autism Society Philippines sa inyong pagdiriwang ng 25th National Autism Consciousness Week!  Maraming salamat sa buong-puso ninyong pagsusulong sa adbokasiyang ito.

Sa kabila ng pandemya, it brings me joy to see that your organization thrives on bringing people together, bound by a common purpose.  This is at the core of what makes us truly human -- we build connections, nurture these relationships, and foster a community where we empower each other.  Magkakarugtong ang diwa nating lahat, and each person is an extension of another.

You have been animated by this philosophy, not only in theory; but also in the initiatives you've launched throughout the years. By creating spaces like this, sinisiguro ninyong bumubuo tayo ng isang lipunang bukas at malay, isang mundo kung saan bawat kababayan nating may autismo ay kinakalinga at inaaruga. At kahit ngayong may pandemya, you have built bridges where you can, making real connections with fellow advocates and the like; patuloy na naghahanap ng paraan para makatulong sa kapwa, para maabot yung mga kailangang abutin, dito at ngayon. Hanga ako sa bawat isa sa inyo.

Ang panawagan ko sa inyo ngayon: Continue to widen your circles of service and compassion. Keep having meaningful conversations and find new ways to reach more. And together, reimagine the future with courage and with hope -- manifesting a better normal, a world where no one is left behind. Kaisa ninyo kami sa OVP sa pagsulong ng isang mas makatao, mas patas, at may mapagkalingang mundo. Maraming salamat at mabuhay kayong lahat!

LENI ROBREDO



 

28 December 2020

A Call for Kindness: The Cebu Coffee Shop Incident

The Autism Society Philippines is saddened by yet another viral incident in Cebu, involving a family with a non-verbal child on the spectrum and an angered father at a popular coffee outlet.


The child's inability to sit still was seen by the man as a lapse in health safety protocols. His aggressive response against the child with autism; however, was shameful and unwarranted.  The action taken by the coffee shop was also wanting.

The law is clear on the rights of and protections for persons with disabilities. The ASP will work with the DOJ, CHR, local government, businesses and the public to ensure this is upheld.

Kindness goes beyond being civil. It means actively choosing to be generous with a part of ourselves -- whether it is time, knowledge, finances, patience, or emotions -- so that those with less or are vulnerable can live with dignity. 

Choose to be kind.

A sad Sunday

The video of the event was released on Facebook by Christina Dabao, big sister to Regur has been seen by thousands. Emotions were visibly high. Audible was the threat to throw a chair at the child with disabilities.



Ate Christina went on to give more details in another Facebook post: 

Today my brother, Regur was discriminated for being a special child. 

Every Sunday, our family goes out and have lunch and coffee to ease up a week of stress from school and work. (Which, by the way, we practice social distancing and use face masks and face shields) But today, unlike any other Sundays, ended up quite disappointing. 

We went to Coffee Bean Tea Leaf, Taft East branch in Cebu City, the usual place we go to. Since we are collecting stamps for the tumbler and the planner. Me and my family are happily drinking our drinks and chatting about the venue for an upcoming family event. Regur, unlike any other days when he has tantrums or not in the mood, was in a good mood. He was just sitting at the edge of the table near the wall, facing my other brother Christger, playing with himself and the towel he uses as a toy. On the other table was another family, when suddenly the father (a big man) told us to stop Regur from doing what he was doing. (Which is playing the towel and drinking his drink), my mom and dad quickly apologized if Regur caused disturbance to him and his family. Informing him that Regur is a special child, and cannot fully understand and does not even talk. But instead of accepting my family’s apologies, he got mad and told us to discipline my brother for not behaving normally. Again, we apologized. But he did not stop there, he stood up and got really mad at us and wanted to smash Regur with a chair. Imagine the scenario of a big adult/old enough man, to understand the situation, acting in that way. Wanting to hurt my brother for playing his towel. (Regur did not even touch him, he was just annoyed that Regur wasn’t sitting still in his chair)

My family immediately stood up to make him understand that his actions are not necessary and that he is discriminating my brother just because he cannot talk and cannot understand like normal kids do. But instead of understanding the situation, he went towards my dad and told him “f*ck you”, for not disciplining my brother well. My dad quickly responded that “it is not our fault that Regur is a special child, that’s why we apologized for the disturbance he may have caused”. He still did not stop and went towards my brother carrying a chair and is about to smash it against him. 

What’s more disappointing is that the staff from Coffee Bean told me and my family to stop and move towards the other table so that the commotion will end. We did not even hear any apologies from the staff for blaming it on us for not changing seats. The man kept repeating and shouting that we should go out and leave immediately. If that was about me, or on any of my family members, i have nothing against him. And would just understand that maybe he was in a bad mood. But he did it to my brother, a loving, smiling and happy kid who does not know what he did wrong and how the situation worsen. My family moved to another table far away from them, to not cause another commotion. The man’s wife apologized and his daughter on his behalf.  But the man stared at us like we are nothing but trash to the society for having a kid with special needs. There was no remorse, not even guilt and it was us who kept apologizing despite all the threats and harassment he did to us. 

I am mad and sad, on how these people can easily look down on kids with special needs. How easily for them to ask for convenience just because they were uncomfortable. How the staff reacted on the commotion and how little their knowledge on what these kids and their family goes through everyday. I am quite shock that there are still unkind people, people that would discriminate and belittle others just because they think they are right. Just because they are normal and others are not. 

I just hope this does not happen to any other families. And if anyone sees a kid with special needs, they would not overreact but instead widen their perspective and understand that they are not the same as those who live normally. 

Regur is okay, he still does not know what have happened. But the man’s loud voice scared him a bit. On the way home, he held my hand in the car, as if telling me he was sorry our Sunday did not end well because of him. And i want him to know, that it was never his fault. And no matter the situation is, we will protect him and we will always be on his side. 

We love you, bhe ko Regur.


17 December 2020

ASP Statement on the Proposed MMDA Ordinance

The Autism Society Philippines received a draft for a new Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Ordinance, “Prohibition Against Parking At Spots Designated for Persons with Disabilities, and Imposing Fines and Penalties Thereof” for our comments. 

We applaud the efforts of the MMDA to prioritize the welfare of PWDs with orthopedic disabilities. The salient points of the proposed ordinance includes:
1) Vehicles without MMDA issued PWD stickers/IDs/Cartag, shall not be allowed to park at spaces designated for persons with disabilities;
2) Only drivers who have (with) orthopedic disabilities (and difficulty walking) shall be allowed to park at designated PWD parking spaces.
3) Violators need to pay fines.
The need for better user discipline of PWD parking is evident; however, the Autism Society Philippines opines that the proposed MMDA ordinance to limit PWD parking privileges to those with orthopedic disabilities is NOT supported by RA 7277, RA 9442 and BP 344. We DO NOT agree with the exclusion of persons on the autism spectrum from any of the benefits allowed by law. 

This is the same legal logic why, some years back, we did not agree with a local drugstore that refused to provide discounts to PWDs with intellectual and learning disabilities, multiple disabilities, and chronic illness -- for the sole reason the at their personnel cannot visually verify the disability. This private company policy made some PDAO's classify applicants on the spectrum, getting a new PWD ID, under "psycho-social disabilities" -- all to circumvent the discount exclusion.

Identifying a subset of PWDs as the ONLY group who can avail of the benefits outlined in the law is a dangerous PRECEDENT. Very often Filipinos with non-apparent disabilities are the first to be negatively impacted. Public agencies and private companies must NOT be allowed to selectively implement benefits outlined in the Magna Carta of Persons with Disabilities -- until relevant laws are repealed by Congress to provide context and make the distinction. 

For the record, many families who live with autism already give way to PWDs or temporarily injured individuals with mobility issues, in the use of PWD parking spaces, as a basic courtesy. Families who may have a dire need for the quick ingress or egress of a child on the spectrum to and from a venue should NOT be penalized for using the benefit.

The position of the Autism Society Philippines has been forwarded to the National Council on Disability Affairs for inclusion in the disability sector feedback. For further comments, please send an email to ncda.action.center@gmail.com



08 December 2020

Resort responds harshly to a mom of a child with autism

An incident at Plantation Bay Resort And Spa in Cebu, circulating on line, has sparked outrage among families living with autism.  All this, as the nation celebrates National Human Rights Consciousness Week.

A heartbroken mother writes on TripAdvisor (https://bit.ly/2VQrR9d)

It could’ve been the perfect getaway for Fin, my child with special needs. When something excites him or when he is happy, he makes it known by squealing with delight. Fin is happy! That is what I always tell him every time he does that.  I thought that was okay until we were told from afar (a lifeguard). As a mother, your initial action would be directed to your child. So I told him not to squeal because it wasn’t allowed. Quite frankly it was a difficult moment. Another lifeguard came and told us the same thing. I had to explain that he is a child with needs.

Every time Fin jumps in the water he’d be so happy that he’d laugh and squeals again. I tried hushing him and at one point tried to cover his mouth. But then I realized this is so wrong? This isn’t right at all!


The plan to swim the whole morning came to a halt. I asked Fin if we could go back to the room because we weren’t allowed to squeal and be merry the special way.


It’s a discriminating experience. We often get this a lot. When normal people who are ignorant of people with special needs, give us that stare of please control your child.


My Fin is a happy child. He has autism. He is special. Very special! I will never consider staying here ever again. No luxury of this proportion can make this experience okay because that is not what we need.


We need a friendly and empathetic environment for kids and families with special needs.


Via TripAdvisor

For the record, for many families who live with autism, we are hyper-aware our children\"s challenges.  All too often, we are overly apologetic for their lapses; and are quick to retreat after seeing the familiar look of judgement in the eyes of the public. It is never our intention to infringe on the rights of others to experience what we want our children to enjoy -- be it a day at the pool or a movie in a mall. Genuine disability inclusion ensures access to enriching opportunities and experiences. We commend Mommy Mai for fighting for her child and for speaking out!


A disability-compassionate and sympathetic hospitality organization would have gone the extra mile to understand their customer\"s perspective. Instead, the resort went the other direction.  


Before deep-diving into resort rules, relegated to fine print, Mr. Efren Belarmino, General Manager at Plantation Bay Resort And Spa, in behalf of Mr. Manny Gonzalez, the Resident Shareholder, began their response to this Tripvisor review by assuming the worst of their guest and her child with a disability. The first part of the response is ignorant of what the autism spectrum is — even going as far as to shame the parent and question the veracity of the child’s diagnosis. 

For your information, uncontrolled shouting is not a symptom of autism. On the contrary, autistic children tend to be silent, non-verbal, and overwhelmed and withdrawn when faced with strangers. In fact, it is regrettably true that an autistic child will not be happy in any public situation where they are faced with many unfamiliar people and surroundings. Google "Autism" and verify this for yourself. Therefore this parent is most likely deliberately lying, or has been given an incorrect diagnosis of autism, when what the child more likely has is a lack of discipline due to simple parental neglect. Children scream because they hope to attract the attention of parents who customarily ignore them, or because they hear screaming between their parents at home. If their parents would pay attention to them, and would refrain from screaming at each other, there would be no need for the child to scream. In our experience, one word from a responsible parent is enough to make a child quiet down.

UPDATE: Here is the resort\"s original response. It was taken down from Tripvisor on 8 December 2020 at approximately 2pm.

Via Tripvisor

This sad event is an opportunity for disability sensitivity training; and a review of the resort’s policies and procedures for compliance to RA 7277, the Magna Carta for Persons with Disability.  Beyond the public relations mess that this is (driven by an ill-crafted response), the noble men and women who serve to please their customers at the Plantation Bay Resort And Spa in Cebu can do better.  Even the best-intentioned organizations can always use additional knowledge and improvements in areas they are not properly trained in.  The Department of Tourism, the National Council on Disability Affairs and the Autism Society Philippines can help facilitate education in "invisible" and often misunderstood disabilities.

For parents who find themselves in this situation, know that the law is on your side.  Escalating the matter to top management is the best way to amicably resolve your issues and to teach the organization what accommodations are needed by guests who manifest their disability uniquely.  Very often, top management responds with kindness and compassion.

If the issue is not resolved, you may file a civil case in court or with the Commission on Human Rights for violations of the RA 7277, the Magna Carta for Persons with Disability. Please take note of names, places, events, dates, times and screenshots, to complete documentation of the incident. You may also fill out the form below to reach out to the Autism Society Philippines.




03 December 2020

National Autism Consciousness Week 2021

The Autism Society Philippines is one with the nation in celebrating the 25th Philippine National Autism Consciousness Week to be held from 18 to 24 January 2021. This annual observance was made possible by President Fidel Ramos' Proclamation 711 of 1996 – in inspiring acceptance, accommodation and appreciation of persons on the autism spectrum in society. The activities of the week promote action by the public and private sectors towards enabling persons on the autism spectrum to live with dignity, enjoy equal rights and access, function independently and contribute productively. We would like society to strive beyond “awareness” and to inspire genuine inclusion -- through acceptance, accommodation and appreciation!

This year’s theme, “Pilipinong May Autismo: Kakaiba, Kasali, Konektado” intends to further societal awareness on the uniqueness of Filipinos on the spectrum; inclusive development in human rights, education, employment, media, among others; and individual self-awareness, self-expression and feeling of belonging to a compassionate society.

Read more about the NACW 2020 Multi-Sectoral Gameplan

Download the sample NACW Banner here: http://bit.ly/39DBT5Q

The absence of the puzzle imagery in our materials is deliberate. The Autism Society Philippines does not support the use of the puzzle icon to represent autism, as persons on the spectrum should neither be illustrated as "mind-boggling" nor "incomplete". 

Does your agency or institution want to join the national commemoration? Do you need tools, resources or assistance to bring your initiative to a wider audience? Send us an email at autismphils@gmail.com, if you feel we can help. Or drop us a DM via any of our social media channels -- Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.





 
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