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

PROMPT and (Autism) Circumstance

By: Pinky O. Cuaycong

When a child is handed a diagnosis of autism, the most common educational “prescriptions” are the three-fold approach of special education, occupational therapy, and speech therapy. Each addresses a host of challenges an individual with autism faces; each encompasses a wide variety of approaches and philosophies. And yet, nothing stumps more people than problems with communication. The ability to make purposeful sounds, to talk, and to communicate often seems like an elusive dream, especially for the more affected individuals in the spectrum.

It used to be said that when a child reaches the age of seven and still has not learned to speak, speech and language are inevitably lost causes. Whoever assigned the age of seven as the arbitrary cut-off point for speech and language obviously has not heard of PROMPT.

PROMPT, or Prompts for Restructuring Oral Muscular Phonetic Targets, is a systematic technique of treatment for speech production disorders developed in the late 1970s by Deborah Hayden. While other approaches for speech therapy rely on purely auditory and visual inputs, PROMPT employs touch, positioning, and movement to allow the motor structures of the mouth to learn to work together to produce purposeful sounds, speech, and eventually, language.

The philosophy behind PROMPT is dynamic and integrates the different aspects of a human being. It takes into careful study not only the structures that produce sounds (the lips, tongue, vocal cords, facial muscles, among others), but also the other body systems that affect social interaction and motivation. This is particularly effective for individuals with autism considering their difficulties in skills that rely on purely imitation. However, while it is successful in helping communication problems in autism, this technique is a boon to anyone suffering from speech production disorders.

I remember the first time Alphonse said “Mama;” it was music to my ears. He was nine years old at the time, and up to that point, had only been able to say very few words at the most unexpected times, never to repeat them again. After a few weeks, “mama” disappeared from his vocabulary. The next time he said it again, he was already halfway into his 14th year. This miracle happened just a few short months ago.

Around half of all children with autism never develop speech; this is a real and heartbreaking fact. Alphonse has been nonverbal all his life and continues to struggle to make even the simplest of sounds. But while the odds are against him, I dare not lose hope. We passed the seventh year milestone many years ago (Alphonse turns 15 in a few months), but there is always tomorrow. In autism, love and hope are our constant life source.

Ms. Maria Jerilrr Casas, one of the speaker
To learn more about PROMPT, I invite you to listen to Ms. Maria Jerilee Casas, CSP, PASP, at the 11th National Conference on Autism of Autism Society Philippines. Teacher Jeri is one of our homegrown local experts on autism and the only Filipino speech pathologist accredited by PROMPT Institute to give a public presentation on their behalf. Hurry! The early bird rate is on its last week, so take advantage of these savings!

Autism Society Philippines’ 11th National Conference on Autism
October 24-25, 2009
SMX Convention Center, SM Mall of Asia

9 days to go
to avail of early bird rate
with P3,000 savings!!

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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