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.

21 May 2010

The So Called “Normal” World

By: Amaris Grace M. Cabason ASP Marikina Valley Chapter

"Why would you feel sorry for someone who gets to opt out of the inane courteous formalities which are utterly meaningless, insincere and therefore degrading? This kid doesn't have to pretend to be interested in your back pain or your excretions or your grandma's itchy place. Can you imagine how liberating it would be to live a life free of all the mind-numbing social niceties? I don't pity this kid, I envy him," said Dr. Gregory House of his autistic patient -- From the TV series “House”

This quote has much meaning in my life because, one, I am tired of mind-numbing social realities, and two, my youngest brother, suffers from borderline autism. Unless you know the symptoms of autism, Vinz would pass off as a normal kid.

Sisters Amaris and Issa with Brother Vinz

He used to have trouble keeping eye contact. He has problems keeping still. He runs around and dances without music. He talks to strangers and sometimes, to no one in particular, but he goes on as if he is actually conversing with someone. He gets frustrated easily. He asks questions, out of the blue and answers them by himself -which shows, he already knew the answers to those questions anyway! He has fixations like green socks, the number 9, and Mr. Bean.

Social norms, status quo and proper behavior are things he has difficulty understanding. Vinz has trouble knowing right from wrong. There is no black or white to him. The only time he knows he did something bad, is when he is scolded or when get mad.

One problem is particularly difficult. This has happened once too many times before, at different malls, shops, and grocery stores. Once he sees something he wants, he has to get it NOW or else he would throw a fit.

It would be embarrassing, not to mention utterly frustrating, because calm explanations to Vinz would not work. He would scream (shriek would be a more appropriate word) with every ounce of strength each of his vocal cords can muster, scratch and punch the unfortunate person who tries to hold and restrain him. And more often than not, we have to physically carry him away from the object of interest, hurry out the mall or cut short our trips.

Vinz’s autism diagnosis was confirmed at three years old. To help him with communication and behavioral modification and coping in school, his Developmental Pediatrician recommended Speech and Occupational Therapy. Since both my parents have to work full-time everyday, I was tasked to accompany him to his M-W-F therapy.

Living 24/7 with an autistic brother is quite an experience. But seeing him in a school where many like him ran around comfortably and where he belonged is a completely different encounter.

These kids, like Vinz, do not fit-in in our so-called “normal world”. What good is a normal world of niceties and notoriety? A normal world of extremes we all have to deal with, all at the same time? What do these kids miss out on anyway? Come to think of it, whose loss is it really? The ability to lie our way through something? To use deceit just to be on top? To worry about worldly things and do anything just to achieve them?

I thank God for how Vinz’s condition reminds me of innocence, and how easily we lose it or taint it as we grow older. It is not just the state of blankness or openness a child has that needs to be filled; but the bliss of constant amazement and curiosity.

Never holding grudges and easily saying “to forgive is to forget”. Asking questions and depending on Mom or Dad for answers instead of shutting them out from our life as soon as we become teenagers.

It’s that steady smile on his face that makes me envy him, devoid of shallow worries about what to wear or where to go; or how to make someone like us, or worse, how to be like someone else for them to like us.

It’s all those things -- or rather, the absence of it -- beautifully woven and protected by innocence. That, sometimes, makes me think, that perhaps, we are the ones who missed out on what it means to be part of “their world”… and that they are the lucky ones.

*Reprinted from ACAP News 2009


Amaris Grace M. Cabason is an incoming 2nd year student at the San Beda College of Law. She is the daughter of Alex and Marivi Cabason, President and First Lady of ASP Marikina Chapter. Be an Angel for Autism. Donate now and help ASP Chapters with their programs and services. Log on to ASP Community Website. Call us at 7-903-5496 or write to .


Unknown said...

Very well said. Reminds me of my son's behavior he is only two when he was first diagnosed now he is three and responds very well to therapy.

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