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 December 2009

Why Angels Walk in the Malls

It is only fitting that the next Angels Walk for Autism on Jan. 24 will be held in, where else but, the SM Mall of Asia.

Malling is a way of life for Filipino families. But for families dealing with Autism, enjoying the malls may not come that easy. It requires preparation by the family for the child.

Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how an individual interprets what he sees, hears, touches and tastes; thereby impairing his understanding and use of language, and his adaptation to his environment.

Imagine how the senses of a Child with Autism (CWA) are bombarded in a mall setting, with all the seemingly strange sights, sounds, smell, and people around them. Some of them may cry, some may throw tantrums, and others may exhibit "socially inappropriate behaviors." And some, yes, may get lost – which will be a very difficult situation if the CWA happens to be non-verbal, too.

But imagine also how a family feels when, while dealing with their CWA’s behaviors in the mall, the people around them are all staring, if not sneering. And judging: "spoiled brat" referring to the child; "hindi marunong magpalaki ng anak" – referring to the parents.

Really, it is not only the children with autism who need to be educated on malling. There is also a need to educate the mall-goers, and the public in general, on understanding autism.

Angels Walk for Autism

"If we did something for People with Disabilities (PWD), then as an industry, we would be contributing significantly to an often neglected sector of society," said Annie Garcia, president of SM Management Corporation during her speech given at the National Conference of the Philippine Retailers Association last August.

SM swept a total of seven awards (for seven branches) as the Most Handicapped Friendly Establishments during this year’s Apolinario Mabini Awards (August 6, 2008).

They more than deserve the awards because their barrier-free and safe environment for persons with disability (PWD) includes not only their building facilities.

Most importantly, SM people – from the managers down to the frontliners, understand and show compassion for PWDs who may not have physical disability requiring special ramps and comfort rooms, but need all the understanding and compassion they could get.

As Ms. Garcia told other retailers, "I speak to you about our special customers, the customers we should also care for, the ones that need greater understanding, the ones that need our eyes, our ears, our legs, our minds and our strengths, and most importantly our hearts. We know that it is truly all about understanding."

Source: Angels Talk, Manila Bulletin Schools and Colleges Section, January 2009.


rubyrjavier said...

Congratulations ASP for the wonderful work you have been doing for CWA.....More power and God bless!

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