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.

10 December 2009

Realizing My Mission

By: Cathy Genovia ASP Program Assistant

“I thank God for giving me this chance to be a storyteller, to share my knowledge and spread my love for all persons with autism and the people who have little knowledge about them.”


The Center for Health Development-Metro Manila (CHDMM) of Department of Health (DOH) held a 3-day live-in Annual Consultative Workshop at Cherry Blossoms, Ermita, Manila, last November 18, 19 & 20.


The participants of the Annual Consultative Planning Workshop

on Non-Communicable Disease Program


The workshop aimed to form a partnership with Government, Non-Government and Private Sectors for the purpose of strengthening the Integrated Non-Communicable Disease Prevention and Control Program.


Autism Society Philippines (ASP) was one of the invited participants of the said workshop and is one of the members of the Core Group. Most of the participants are doctors from different Local Government Units (LGU). The other 2 Non-Government Organizations are The Seventh Day Adventists and Healthway.


As the chosen representative of ASP, I admit I was so confused at first and didn’t know why ASP was invited, since the topic is all about Lifestyle Related Diseases (LRD). I know for a fact, that AUTISM is NOT a DISEASE.


There are times that I don’t really understand what they are discussing, especially, medical terms that I only heard of for the first time. But, I kept quiet and patiently listened to all the discussions.


At the back of my mind, “What if they made a mistake?” An Angel whispered, “Just wait and for sure, answers will come out”.


Dr. Anchit Cuevas, introduced us to The Rainbow Tent Project of the Pateros Health Department. This project aims to bring information and education services on health issues to the municipality’s different schools. I was curious to find out the kind of services are offered at their Therapy Center and asked Dr. Cuevas. Therapy was limited to rehabilitation services and patients with special needs like autism, were referred to the hospital, this left me frustrated.


That night, my two wonderful roommates: Dra. Reggie Bartolome and Dra. Nitz Villanueva, wanted to know many things about autism. I was intimidated and hesitant at first, but Dr. Reggie assured me that not all doctors are knowledgeable about autism, since not all of the doctors here are Developmental Pediatricians.


That night the answer was revealed: “I have a mission!”


During our second day, Dr. Ruben Siapno of CHDMM presented to us the Operational Framework of Integrated NCD (Non-Communicable Disease) package. The NCD programs are: Tobacco Control, Blindness Prevention, Mental Health, LRDs, PWD (persons with disabilities), Injury Prevention, Philippine Organ Donation Program (PODP) and Renal Disease Control Program (REDCOP).


All NCD (Non-Communicable Disease) organization representatives were grouped into one. One of my doctor teammate told the group that autism would be under Mental Health. Since to my knowledge, AUTISM is not a MENTAL HEALTH ISSUE, but rather, should fall under the category of Learning Disability or PWD.


I reacted and insisted to the group my sentiments. Honestly, I know why I said that, but I don’t know how to explain it further. ASP is working so hard to orient the people in the grassroots level about autism, and here, doctors have to be given an orientation about autism. In my eagerness to prove to the group about the misconceptions about autism, I decided to call for help.


“Tagalugin mo Cath para mas maintindihan nila, wag kang matakot kahit mga doktor sila. Para kasing mababalewala lang ung ipinaglalaban natin for centuries now!” came the timely advice at the other end of the phone from Tita Carmel Almendrala, one of our ASP Trustees.


And now the time has come…


After the break our team leader, Dra. Mona, guided me on how to link ASP to our topic. While in front, I can see all the participants nodding. I informed them some of the 14 signs and symptoms (click here to know the signs and symptoms) and shared some of the actual family stories for them to easily understand the red flags.



(2nd from left) ASP Angel Cathy Genovia with Dr. Butz of Pasig City,

Dra. Mona Abarquez of QC and Dr. Neil Argana of Muntinlupa City in one of

their workshop during the Annual Consultative Planning



One of the CHDMM staff confided to me about her niece with autism. I invited her to join the group and share her story. This was also timely, as the group was able to confirm and realize that I am not just making things up. I invited them to be part of ASP’s Autism Awareness Campaign. ASP now part of the Policy Development and the Health promotion Committee.


For more information on autism log on to www.autismsocietyph.org. Send your email request for Autism Orientation Program or the EDEIP or the Early Detection and Early Intervention Program to autismphils@gmail.com

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