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.

11 February 2010

Proudly Artistic and Truly Autistic

By: Architect Cathy Candelaria Cham

Vico, my second child, was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder at 2 years and 8 months. It did not take long for my husband and I to accept his condition. We decided to do everything we can to help him.


And as a young mother to in 1994, I attended my first annual Autism Children and Adults of the Philippines Conference. I vividly recalled listening to a 16 year old autistic named Magiting. His mother shared stories and challenges in raising him. When it was his turn to speak, he said: “Hello to everyone, my name is MAGITING and I am autistic.”


I cried upon hearing his statement. Vico then, was still hiding in his own little world. And I, not knowing when he will come out of his shell, saw a glimmer of hope in Magiting’s statement. I resolved that someday, I too will share Vico’s story.


Family First


As early as 3 years old, Vico attended Learning Partners, Inc. for therapy and one-on–one sessions. Balancing my work, I diligently followed thru with the home programs given by the school. Slowly, Vico learned to speak. He began to recognize us as his family and became ready to accept us.


My husband and I needed to educate our families. We extended the home program to the lolo, lolas (grandparents), uncles, aunts, and all of his cousins. It was a “tall order” for us to make every member of the family understand that love, understanding and patience are needed to help Vico feel that he is part of the family. We traveled together to places for family vacations, watched his cousin’s football games, etc. We are blessed to have both my husband and my family ready and committed to help us! We involved Vico in every part of our lives.


Discovering Artistic Mind


By the time Vico was 8, we enrolled him in SHINE Intervention School (SHINE). We religiously attended his school programs. Together, with the help of doctors, therapists and dedicated teachers of SHINE, our familys’ support and love given to Vico – all these major factors helped developed him to a cheerful and lovable person that he is right now.


My husband and I are both architects, so with those genes, we discovered Vico’s artistic abilities in 1999. His artworks from school were always outstanding! But after seeing his first creation of “Blues Clues” (drawn in 2001), I knew we should harness Vico’s artistic mind. We gave him various medium such as poster paints, glitter glues, Cray-Pas, colored pencils, computer art-anything to explore his gift.


He was trained for one year under Prof. Gabby Atienza, peerson with Asperger’s Syndrome. Vico developed drawing human figures with long torso, legs, arms and beautiful faces! We call his creations “fashionista dolls”. His creations are made into handcrafted bookmarks with Bible passages printed at the back for the bookmark.


First Exhibit and Celebrity Fans

In 2009, during Autism Society Philippines’ 13th Autism Consciousness Week and World Autism Awareness Day celebrations, Vico joined other PWA artists in their first art work exhibits at SM North EDSA’s The Block and The Atrium. During that time, Vico dreamt of having his own exhibit someday.


Ten years collecting Vico’s hidden treasures were finally exhibited at the Main Lobby of SM Marikina. It was his first public exposure. Among the 35 collections included his early paintings, The Geisha and Cleopatra Series and Computer Painting Series.


Ms Tweetie De Leon- Gonzales, former super model, came to the exhibit and had a chance to be first model for Vico;s on-the spot-computer painting. MYX VJs Vj Iya, Robi, Janine, Bianca Chino and Nel, whom Vico made special computer art works, also came to visit and support.


Vico Cham with MYX VJs

Inspiring Others


The support given to him by Autism Society Phils, SM Supermalls and Shine Intervention Center - our special thanks for believing in our children! To the people Vico drew on–the-spot, thank you for becoming his new friends. To Vico - our pride and joy!


To young parents of children with autism – Persons with autism have gifts which they can share and offer happiness to others. Appreciate autism. They can serve as inspirations to others having the same condition.


On the night of the opening ceremony of Vico’s one –man- exhibit, I had my turn to present my son. Vico addressed the audience: “I hope you like my work as much as I enjoyed drawing them all. This is my gift from God and I would like to share this to you and the whole world! My name is VICO CANDELARIA-CHAM, and I am PROUDLY AUTISTIC!”


To God be the Glory!

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