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.

18 December 2009

Mission, not Impossible

By: Cathy Genovia ASP Program Assistant

This article is dedicated to Lone Ranger, Dr. Ismael Pastor

“Ayan na si Ms. Autistic,” (Here’s Ms. Autistic), one of the unforgettable greeting I received during the just concluded 3-day live-in Annual Consultative Workshop at Cherry Blossoms, Ermita, Manila last November 18, 19 & 20.

To those greetings I received, I tried to keep my composure and gave my best smile. “Hindi po ako autistic. Nagtratrabaho po ako sa Autism Society Philippines, isang NGO na tumutulong sa mga pamilyang may mga anak na may autismo.” (I’m not autistic. I’m working for ASP, an NGO helping families with children with autism.)

The Workshops were sponsored by The Center for Health Development-Metro Manila (CHDMM) of Department of Health (DOH). DOH takes a giant step in inviting and accepting ASP as one its members for the coalition on Policy Development and the Health Promotion Committee

In all the meetings that I attended, I always make sure of bringing a copy of the Magna Carta of Persons with Disabilities (RA 7277)

“Oh, ‘di ba autistic ka, oh…si Ms. Autistic,” (Oh, aren’t you autistic…oh, it’s Ms. Autistic.) said one of the “heavy set” doctors, while mimicking some of the symptoms of autism like hand flapping and avoiding eye contact.

I reminded the good doctor about the existing law which is the amended Magna Carta of PWDs, RA9442. "Bakit, mamumulta ba ako?!” (Why, will I be fined?!), came his surprised remark.

“Opo, at baka pwede rin po kayong makulong,” (Yes, and you might also be jailed.) RA9442 also prohibits verbal, non-verbal ridicule and vilification against PWDs.

Thankfully, after receiving the copies of the Magna Carta for PWDs, Dr. Emma Ruth Cuevas, Chairperson for the Policy Development Committee, helped me disseminate to other members of the coalition, who are otherwise uninformed of the law.

Dr. Emma Ruth Cuevas during the Policy Committee meeting with the rest of the group

And since autism also falls in the PWD Program of DOH, I suggested to the group to network with the National Council of Disability Affairs (NCDA) on particular issues.

After several meetings, I felt better knowing that autism is not an ignored issue anymore and knowing they are fully supporting ASP’s advocacy gave me a sense of hope.

Committee on Health Promotion of Non-Communicable Disease Program, which ASP signed up as a member is tasked to provide awareness on health and related issues by giving seminars to government health workers and also to doctors and professionals. The committee will include series of orientations on autism to provide understanding of this condition.

members of the Health Promotion Committee

The whole coalition was also invited to join our upcoming Autism Consciousness Week activities, particularly the Angels Walk for Autism, which will be slated on January 24, 2010 at the SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City

The mission and vision of the coalition does not end here. As what Ms. Marylen Reyes, OIC-Degenerative Disease Office of CHD-MM said “We will now be working together… forever”. Upon hearing this, I can truly say: Mission, Not Impossible to achieve.

To know more about the Medical Priveleges of PWDs, click here.


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