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.

10 March 2010

Recovering Autism

By: Mary Anne Ramos-Rafanan, ASP Bacolod Chapter, Asst. Treasurer

Mary Anne Rafanan with son Joshua

Our little boy Joshua was born healthy on October 17, 2000 in Ridgewood, New Jersey. He grew to be a healthy little boy and met all his developmental milestones.

Our lives changed forever three months after his second birthday. Josh suffered a seizure that lasted 55 minutes. He pulled through the seizure and was okay. There was no cause for any alarm and we all returned to our usual daily routine.

Around his third birthday, we noticed some unusual behaviors that bothered us. We immediately sought the help of our pediatric neurologist who ordered an EEG. It came back positive for seizures. His unusual behaviors were suspected to be related to seizures.

Josh became aloof and preferred to be alone. His days would be consumed with flicking long objects in front of his face. As the days passed, this behavior increased. We sought answers from our pediatrician. She recommended help from a developmental specialist.


I felt like someone dumped a ton of bricks on my shoulders. All my dreams for Josh died that moment. The big diagnosis: AUTISM PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder).

Every one was quiet in the room, my husband, my brother, me and Josh. I didn’t know how to act, what to say. I grieved for my child who sat right next to me. Josh was our first born. I kept thinking of the future- will I see him get married? Will he be a dad? My husband was hit more with the diagnosis. Who would bear his last name and continue his legacy?

The next few months were really hard, barely surviving Josh’s tantrums. Our days were spent in clinics for intensive Speech, Occupational, Cognitive and Play Therapies. On weekends we organized playgroups for socialization skills. My life was consumed with Josh’s interventions.


Although we were proactive in seeking help for Josh, my husband and I still thought that the doctors were wrong. Josh can do this and he could do that, he couldn’t be autistic. We sought for more opinions in the hopes that the diagnosis would change. A year passed. Josh was still the same. His diagnosis had not changed.


I brought Josh to all his interventions religiously. I met parents going through the same stages of autism. All in the same boat, we talked about our experiences in the therapy clinics or in school. Our talks became our own therapy sessions as it was our time to vent, to cry and to listen.


Josh is labeled autistic. There was no turning back. Autism is a big part of our lives now. My husband and I both went back to school at New York University to learn more about early education and interventions. I buried my self with classes, trainings, lectures and workshops. I ran my own daily therapy sessions at home with Josh. I also became active in our local autism organization in New Jersey. Summer of 2008; Josh has made so much progress.

Reality Bites

Early 2009, we finally made the big move and came home to Bacolod. I remembered making a promise that I would help others if HE would help me with Josh. The day has come that I finally realized why God gave us such a special boy - it is so that I can help other people who are going through what we have gone through, and am still going through.

Bite marks, bruises and back aches don’t deter my enthusiasm. The road has not been easy. Helping my own child’s recovery from autism has now become a passion to serve special individuals and their families.

What Autism Gave

Autism has given me new friends, friends that I would have never had if Josh was not diagnosed. Autism has given me a renewed passion to learn and to share what I have learned. I can now stand up in a room full of people and speak about my experiences. With every child that I help, I get it back a hundred folds with Joshua’s progress.

What keeps me going are the smiles and the hugs I get from other special children; the light in the eyes of parents after their special child learned to say “I LOVE YOU” for the first time; the tears I see in the parents’ eyes when they come to say “thank you”.

Although Josh is still far from recovery, I see him grow everyday and I trust God that one day, I will see recovery.


Mary Anne Ramos-Rafanan’s passion and dream for her son’s recovery brought her to Bacolod City, Philippines. On June 2, 2009, she opened a school for children with special needs. Today, the center benefits 25 children. Visit our website to know the ASP Bacolod Chapter details.


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