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.

02 June 2010

A mother’s special love

A mother of two boys with autism remains steadfast in her faith and hope…


ASP Trustee Gina Bermudo and her husband Lito Bermudo with their sons
Nicholas (2nd from left) and Alexander (right)


Two, not just one, of her sons have autism.

But Gina Bermudo has chosen not to wallow in pity, but to roll up her sleeves and act to help Nicholas, 14 and Alexander, 11, get the most out of their lives.

Aside from the neurodevelopmental disorder, the two boys also suffer from other disabilities.

“Super special ang case nila kasi multiple disabilities. Sabay-sabay na diagnose, one after the other. Lahat ng diagnoses nila, independent ‘yan, hindi lahat connected sa autism,” Bermudo explains.

At the age of two years old, Nicholas lost his right eye to unknown causes. Doctors here and abroad failed to identify the cause of his retina to detach from his right eye. Nicholas now wears an artificial eye.

On the other hand, Alexander was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Marfan Syndrome at two years old.

To be with her children every step of the way in their development, Bermudo quit her job to be a full-time mother. She would patiently wait for them outside their school, or tirelessly help the two boys with their studies even if it meant teaching one single lesson over and over again.

“The struggle, the therapies are constantly there. Minsan mabilis ang improvement, minsan wala, minsan nag pa-plateau, minsan nagre-regress. Si Nicholas before, nahirapan kami kasi walang retention, so ang tagal ng process talaga,” recalls Bermudo who is also a board of trustee of Autism Society Philippines (ASP).

COURAGE AMID DIFFICULTIES

Despite her sons’ conditions, the Bermudo couple stayed strong and unyielding thinking of ways to help their sons through the difficult times. Not wasting a minute after discovering their children’s multiple disabilities, they immediately started treatment and never for once blamed themselves or their genes for their sons’ condition. Autism usually has a strong genetic basis cased by rare mutations or rare combination of genetic variants. In rare cases, autism is strongly associated with agents that cause birth defects.

“You know the feeling that you can take anything after the very difficult event in your life? ‘Yung eye surgery ng eldest ko was the first, so any diagnosis, any condition after that case parang mas madali na lang i-handle. Parang ang inisip ko na lang, at least buhay ‘yung anak ko. So I just thought that I will do what I need to do para lang matulungan sila ang importante buhay at masaya sila. ‘Yun na lang ang motivating factor ko,” Bermudo shares.

Bermudo started with both home-based and center-based therapies for her two sons, before enrolling them in a special school, and later on, in a regular school.

“It’s really hard to find special schools in the Philippines that can match the needs of special children especially those with special cases like my sons. Also I have to cope with the fact that my family can never have a normal life. Kahit saan mong tignan kasi itong disability na ito ay life-long. If you look at it objectively, maari mong magawang functional ‘yung bata kasi ang autism hindi reversible but manageable through therapy, hard work, ‘yung bata magiging functional. Kahit ‘yung isang simple family activity it requires meticulous planning and preparation.

For example, in going to the mall you have to give your child social stories repeatedly for the kid to assimilate that. It’s a detailed schedule, the time, and everything is programmed. Any deviation from the plan may set them off to have tantrums so you have to stick to your plan,” she explains.

Today, her two sons are highly functional and just recently, Bermudo pulled Nicholas out from mainstream schooling to start him on pre-vocational lessons to develop his basic vocational skills.

STRONGER THAN EVER

She has had misgivings of course. But all these just actually made her stronger.

“Tao lang ako. But my faith anchors me. Through faith, my misgivings become hope. That is the source of our strength,’’ she admits.

Bermudo likewise learned how to prioritize, focus, look beyond conditions like autism and appreciate it as a blessing rather than a disability.

“The unconditional love and purity of heart from both the kid and parents. ‘Yun ang greatest motivation ko, it has the greatest impact on my life. Ang ginagawa ko na lang, nagmemaintain ako ng sense of equilibrium sa buhay ko, sense of balance na kahit na marami pang issues sa autism. I try to keep the atmosphere at home normal,’’ she says.

SONGS FROM THE HEART

One of the outlets of her inspiration has materialized into an album entitled “Mga Awiting Alay sa Autismo.” It is a hit among parents and special children alike.

The album carries happy and upbeat songs like “Misteryo” and “Kaya Ko Rin”, that evoke encouragement for parents The story behind the album is a miracle in itself.

“Kasi ako wala akong talent sa music pero marunong ako mag appreciate ng music. I can’t even sing! While my kids are at therapy, the air conditioner of the center was out of order so I went out of the waiting area and found a tree at a parking lot, I saw a chair, sat on it and searched my bag for something that would keep me busy but what I found was only a pen and a tissue paper. I started to write my thoughts randomly and the ideas started to pour in. After a while, things started to make sense, one thing led to another,” she recalls.

Proceeds of the album sales go to ASP, she says.

“The album started on a very personal note but it has touched other families positively, bonus sa akin ‘yun. Kaya I feel very proud when families here and abroad come to me and say that they can identify with the album and the story behind each song,” she shares.

Aside from the album which she uses to spread awareness about autism, Bermudo is also busy giving talks as a resource person for private establishments and companies who may want to understand the condition of special children better.

DREAMS CAN COME TRUE

“Ang hopes and dreams ko maging normal, But to be realistic, I just dream for them to be fully functional and be able to integrate with society independently; for them to live a life of dignity by developing their own skills and talents to the best of their ability. But most of all, to lead a life full of love and happiness in whatever world they are into and to be surrounded by people who equally love them unconditionally,” she shares.

Bermudo also hopes for a better society, a better government that can help parents like her.


Source: Manila Bulletin, By Angelo G. Garcia

1 comments:

hopewell integrated school said...

We have a copy of your album " Mga awiting alay sa Autismo" and it's truly inspiring. we will play it in our school's PA system in the coming days so that more parents will be made aware of it. Keep the faith alive!

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