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.

04 June 2010

Meeting The Star Child on Earth

By: Tiffany Tan, ASP Board Secretary


ASP National Vice President, Peng So talks about her close encounters with the Star Child on Earth during the World Autism Congress Asia 2010.

During one of the breaks, Peng decided to check out the merchandise booths and found the book, “Star Child on Earth”, authored by Eric Chen, an adult with autism.

Recalling having both two other books “Mirror Mind” and “Autism and Self Improvement,” which she had bought for her son Patrick; she inquired if the author also attended the WACA conference. Peng wanted to have the latest book autographed personally by Eric.

To her surprise, she was speaking to the author himself. Both exchanged pleasantries and calling cards. While signing the book Peng purchased, Eric told Peng that he read about ASP through the different websites.

Eric also knew about the 42 ASP Chapters around the country, and wanted to donate his book to ASP National and gave 5 more books to share with ASP Chapters.

Conversations with Star Child
“I found this amusing about Eric Chen,” said Peng. “He greeted us (Peng was with Gina Bermudo, ASP Trustee) in Tagalog when he found out we are from the Philippines.

Eric attempted to speak in Tagalog and had a handy English-Tagalog dictionary on the merchandise table. “Kumusta kayo? Gusto ko pumunta ng Pilipinas, oo, marami ako kaibigan na Filipino...sa muling pagkikita.” (How are you? I want to visit the Philippines. Yes I have many Filipino friends….see you soon.)

“Apparently, he has Filipino friends in Singapore and would like to visit the country. I don't know if he was learning other languages other than Filipino,” continued Peng.

Curious about Eric
“Many of our ASaP readers might be wondering how he is during our conversation. Halata ba na may autism etc....?” (Is his autism evident?) I assumed his autism was not that evident, that is why Eric was diagnosed later in life.

According to the book, Eric was an odd boy who sleepwalked through his life unaware of feelings and human relationships. Stuck in his own world, he spent most of his time collecting facts in order to understand the confusion surrounding him.

Years after his formal diagnosis of autism in 2001 at the AutismResource Center (Singapore) Eric successfully stepped out of the limits imposed by autism without any professional therapy or bio-medical treatment. He graduated with a Diploma in Logistics Engineering and Management and was drafted by the Singapore Army.

“He’s like Gabby Atienza, (Filipino PWA comic book artist with Asperger’s Syndrome). Eric probably had a difficult childhood. They probably didn’t know what his problem was. His autism is not apparent except for the fact that he looks at you in the eye too much,” assessed Peng. (Peng has two sons with autism).

Social Cravings
“Mukhang sabik na may kausap. (He seemed very conversant and craves company.) It’s a pity when his AVP was shown during second day lunch break, not that many people watched it. Nagku kuwentuhan lang mga tao. (Participants were just chatting with one another.)”

“Although, he smiled and was very good with everything. He only looked down when I asked if he had a job. He was very honest and admitted to recently losing his job. But quickly added he will be starting with his new job soon,” defended Peng.

In his book Eric wrote he obtained a full-time employment in a computer job in 2008 but resigned in 2010 and applied to study BA in Psychology. Also he wrote that he recently published a book – The Star Child on Earth.

“I think Eric will be happy when he sees this in our blog,” concluded Peng.

Excerpts from Eric’s Book
“I use this metaphor to understand people with autism as ‘Foreign Tourists’ who need ‘Tour Guides’ to help them adapt, rather than as psychiatric patients in need of treatment.“

“Although each person with autism is different, and I belong to the very high functioning end of the spectrum, I hope that what I write will give parents, teachers and social workers an idea of what is happening to the children whom they care for.”

Eric has published 2 books, made his autism website, created original autism materials. He lends his inner voice to help parents, teachers and social workers get in touch with the experience of autism.

Eric Chen’s book “Star Child on Earth is available in the ASP Library.

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ASP Library has more than 1000 books on autism, plus educational videos. Visit our community website. Be an Angel for Autism. Donate books to ASP Library. Email us at autismphil@pldtdsl.net or call us at 9266941 or 9298447.

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