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.

14 May 2010

HOME for young people with autism

By: Dang Uy Koe, ASP Chair Emeritus

What will happen to our child (with autism) as he grows older? Where will he live? What will he do?”

Of all the practical issues surrounding the growing adult populations with autism, the need for residential options seems most pressing but least addressed, if at all.

In some countries, like USA, community housing options for adults with autism are available for them to live and thrive in the communities they know. Such residential models include group homes, supportive living, supervised living, farmstead programs, community living options, family teaching model, cooperatives, and shared housing.

These community housing options should not just be sustainable, integrated, accessible, and affordable. Most importantly, they should be real homes that are specifically adapted to support the needs of adults with autism. (source: Foundation for Autism Support and Training (FAST), Maryland, USA).


HERE IN THE PHILIPPINES, WE HAVE HOME

Autism Society Philippines recently launched the H.O.M.E. Life Program. HOME stands for Harnessing Options in Managing Everyday Life.

The objectives of the H.O.M.E. Life Program are (1) to assess the residential abilities of youths and adults with autism, as well as other developmental disabilities and (2) to explore possibilities in living/residential arrangements in an enabling community.

The HOME Life Program commenced with several PWA (persons with autism) boarders staying inside a residential home for five days and five nights. The PWAs are assessed based on how they are able to manage a 24-hour schedule on their own, with the least amount of supervision.

From Autism Resource Center (ARC), Laguna, there are six boarders and three each from the following partner schools, Holy Rosary College in Sta. Rosa City, Hope Intervention Center in Calamba City and Kids Spot Intervention Center in San Pablo City.

Angels Talk collated some of the observations of the parents and care-givers who were there to observe the activities. Many reported increase in social skills and compliance with house rules.

• “Although Philip is non-verbal, he learned to socialize with other boarders; followed instructions given to him”, said mom Minda Rimas. Nancy Magbanua, caregiver to Jermil David, observed that his head banging lessened as a result of the social activities.

Others like RJ Olea and David Michael Lopez learned to do household chores independently: from preparing to cooking meals, sweeping the floor, making beds, washing their own clothes and cooking for others. Of course, they were not limited to “house chores.” During their down time, they also watched TV or have videoke nights to unwind.

“Ian followed through with instructions given to him and complied with the consequences if he disobeyed house rules. He was also able to manage his finances on his own,” reported his mom, Cathy Lopez. “There are many positive influences that my son experienced. He learned to manage time. Having this chance to be on his own gave him the opportunity to organize his personal stuff.”

“I learned to be independent from my parents and fulfilled my obligation to my superiors — whether tasks are simple or difficult. I learned to discipline myself and become a productive worker. I have a bright future to look forward to,“ said David Michael Lopez.


FOOD AND MESSENGER SERVICES

HOME Life is part of ASP Laguna’s “A Sustainable Work-Live-Play Program for Young Adults with Autism” funded by United Parcel Service (UPS), through the ASP National Office. ASP Laguna Chapter runs the program at ARC. Two other projects of the program include a Food and Messenger Services.


The HOME Life Program of ASP Laguna Chapter


The ARC Diner had a soft opening last March 16. It now serves lunch from Tuesday till Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The diner also sells snack items and bottled soda. Five young adults with autism are trained in food service and are now kitchen crew.

With a steady stream of customers from the neighborhood, ARC Diner also receives food orders. The messenger service crew makes deliveries, either on foot or on bike. Both projects are supervised with trainers and job coaches.

HOME Life Activity is centered in Barangay Batong Malake, Los Baños. “The environment is very conductive for PWDs. The community is generally aware of autism and I am looking forward to be here in the near future,” said mom Cathy.

These young adults joined other HOME Life boarders from 5 p.m. until they retire for the night. By 8 a.m. the next morning, they walk back to ARC to report for work, which is just a walking distance away. A HOME supervisor oversees the boarders and assesses their progress. The pilot HOME Life House was open for three weeks from April 18 to May 7.

“Being a boarder in HOME Life is quite affordable”, so Michael Cansanay is already saving up for the next HOME life activity.


"drinking and having fun just like other guys..."


When asked how he envisions HOME activities to be improved, David Michael Lopez candidly replied, “I just wish that the gimmick activities will not be postponed. We want to experience drinking or eating different types of food outside the boarding house. The HOME Life activity should be extended until the weekend, so we can have more exciting activities.”

Imagine more HOMEs where young people with autism are living together in a safe and caring environment. Imagine them young people with autism learning new skills or enhancing learned skills and translating them to meaningful work. Imagine them developing friends and having recreational activities together.

And imagine them having a rewarding and fulfilled life in the community where they are productive and accepted.

Welcome HOME.

ASP holds monthly family support group meeting, no registration fees. For this month, it will be held on May 22, starting at one pm, at ASP National Office in Kamias, Quezon City. For more details please email autismphils@gmail.com or visit our website www.autismsocietyph.org.


Source: Manila Bulletin

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