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.

22 September 2009

DAISY in Bloom

By: Pinky O. Cuaycong

Like the common daisy (Bellis perennis), DAISY grows close to the ground, spreads its roots, and blossoms into a thing of beauty. Seeking to penetrate grassroots level by making learning and knowledge accessible to all, it is certainly a dream come true for many.

DAISY is Digital Accessible Information System, a multimedia publishing system that enables differently-abled individuals to be taught through their own learning styles, whether it be visual, auditory, tactile/kinetic, or a combination of any of these three. A system of software and hardware that combine synchronized audio, text, and pictures, it answers many of the problems faced by individuals who do not learn through the traditional “sit-down-and-listen” way.

Alphonse, my son, is one of these non-traditional learners. Because he is considered “low-functioning,” the pursuit of academics was something long denied him. His programs include those that cater to functional abilities such as self-help and activities of daily living. And yet, for a person who is deemed “unfit” for the classroom, my son loves being read to and listens when the subject is something that interests him.

I remember how Alphonse would linger in the room whenever I read a Harry Potter book to his big brother. He would mutter silently to himself as he walked around the room but we also noticed that he would not leave until story time was finished. We asked him questions about what we read. Writing choices down on a whiteboard, he got the answers right most of the time. When asked where Harry goes to school, he looked at the choices (Hogwash and Hogwarts), pointed to the latter, and started laughing. Seemed he found Hogwash really funny.

Buoyed by this, a few months ago, my husband and I braved the lines at an SM mall three-day sale just to get our him a rather expensive interactive reading system. The system comprised of a battery-operated pen and a couple of interactive books. Alas, books made of paper are perfect for ripping, something I failed to account for. As such, Alphonse has very limited use of his reading system, unless watched like a hawk and supervised constantly.

Mr. Hiroshi Kawamura
The potential for DAISY seems endless. Using DAISY eliminates many of these challenges our children face and introduce them to a medium that is open for exploration and learning. Human narration which can be slowed down according to the desired speed without distortion and easy navigation tools to make moving around a story easier (as opposed to flipping or rewinding cassettes, or starting CDs all over again) help differently-abled readers overcome their difficulties. These and many more are what Mr. Hiroshi Kawamura, President of the DAISY Consortium, hopes to demonstrate and show to autism families in Autism Beyond Borders (where HOPE prevails), Autism Society Philippines’ 11th National Conference on Autism and 1st Southeast Asian Conference on Autism.

As a parent who is willing to try anything to help my son adapt more to this world, I am excited by every new discovery. Listen to how DAISY can change your child’s life. Join us on October 24 and 25, 2009, at the SMX Convention Center, SM Mall of Asia. DAISY seems set to help children like my son bloom, like the vivid, brilliant flower that he really is.

Pinky Cuaycong is Kittymama, full time mom of two boys (a 16-year-old high school junior and a 14-year-old with profound autism), part-time writer, and blogger. In Okasaneko Chronicles, she writes about her life’s deepest passions: her husband of 18 years, her teenage sons, autism advocacy, and Hello Kitty.


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