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.

01 July 2010

Ignoring Autism

By: Cathy Genovia, ASP Program Assistant

In 2004, my best friend invited me to join a summer camp for children with special needs. It was my first time to meet different children from different institutions and other private and public schools. Some have parents/families, but most of the children I met were abandoned.

I found it disturbing that other parents would abandon their own children, because of their disability. I also became frustrated with children with autism, because of the difficult behaviors they showed. I did my best to help them, but none seemed to be working. They would not change and remained the same. I couldn’t do anything to them or for them. I felt like a failure.

Cathy Genovia, PVI volunteer since 2004, for children with special needs.

After that experience, I visited different institutions catering to children with different disabilities. I signed up to be a full-time volunteer. Also, I planned to go back to teaching. So I prayed and pleaded to God, that in case I found work; He won’t take me away from the special kids that I am serving.

On December 19, 2008, that opportunity came. At first I thought I will be handling children with autism, but I was wrong. It was more than I expected.

I met Gio, Adrian, Muneer and Gelo, although, all non-verbal, I’ve seen how more manageable and more cooperative they are, compared to the ones I met before, in camp.

I met Derek and Henry, who amaze me with their English proficiency; Mike who works independently and earns a stable income; Gabby who draws and author of a comic book.

I met Bryan, who sings and plays the drums in a band; Patrick, who aces the hardest math problems; Thara, Vell and Nica whose voices are comparable to professional singers.

Muneer and Thara with Ate Cath

All of my perceptions about autism changed – it’s beyond the signs, the symptoms, and why they behaved the way they do. Yes, it is important to teach them the ABCs, but more importantly, it’s more important to understand them and to know how they feel. Yes, they are teachable, trainable and able to reach their fullest potential, but they have taught me as well, not to focus on the material things that revolve around us, but to appreciate the real meaning of life.

A former college friend said to me, “Let’s take up special education, there is a lot of money there, you can earn a lot, especially abroad, where sped teachers are in demand.” But what happens when we leave to work abroad and earn a higher salary? Wouldn’t we be also a failure to these children? Abandoning them as well?

This NDPR week, let’s pause to reflect. Let’s not ignore their autism, but help them transcend what is being branded of them, with unconditional love and acceptance.

ASP celebrates with the whole nation the NDPR week from July 17 to 23. Click here to read on the line-up of activities. Be informed. Be pro-active. Be an Angel for Autism. Tell others. Share Hope and Build Dreams. Log on to ASP Community Website or email us at or call 7-903-5496.


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