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.

30 July 2010

Teacher dad

By Angelo G. Garcia

A father gave up his dreams and his job and chose to be his daughter’s guiding light…

As the padre de familia, Evert Malapad has made the ultimate sacrifice by giving up his dreams and his job to become a full-time father for his daughter who has autism.

“My daughter’s doctor advised that it would help if one of us went full-time to help Mae-Mae focus on her intervention.

Mahirap but we had to decide that one of us should give up work to be with her. After a long talk, sabi ko, sige na, ako na,” Evert recalls.

He gave up his job as a supervisor of an automotive service center. It was not easy though. He left his job with a lump in his throat. “Naiyak ako kasi career ko ‘yun, parang nandito na ako sa stage na ‘to, natutupad na ang gusto ko, maganda na ‘yung takbo ng career ko, mabigat para sa akin,” the 42-year-old father admits.

There were no regrets though, he says, as he was able to focus on their daughter’s improvement.

Unwittingly, Evert had entered a career he never knew he would learn to love.


(From left) Evert Malapad with daughters Mae-Mae, 15; Ella, 11; and wife Apple

ACCEPTING THE UNKNOWN

Evert’s wife Apple noticed some unusual traits in their first-born who was then two years old.

“Napansin lang ng asawa ko na iba ang kilos ni Mae-Mae, hindi siya sumasagot ‘pag kinakausap, kinukutkot niya ‘yung foam sa crib niya, and medyo delayed. Two years old na siya nakapaglakad,” Evert says.

At that time, Evert was working in the Middle East. Eventually, he returned to the country and consulted close relatives and friends who advised them to enrol Mae-Mae in a playschool to alter her unusual behavior. However, their daughter’s teacher advised them to have her checked by a doctor.

The pediatrician confirmed Mae-Mae’s autism and the Malapads were later asked to seek guidance from Autism Society Philippines (ASP), an organization dedicated to speading awareness about autism. ASP may be able to answer the couple’s numerous questions about their daughter’s condition.

“After joining a support group, although naiintindihan na namin, doon na nagsimula ‘yung bigat na tanggapin ‘yung problema. Parang nawala lahat ng pangarap namin sa kanya, na maging doctor siya. Hindi namin alam kung ano ang magiging future niya,” he shares.

It took the couple about six months to recover, during which they even started questioning God. It was also during this time that they started helping their daughter, enrolling her in special schools and hiring therapists.

To support all of their financial needs, the couple needed to work, Apple as an accountant and Evert as an automotive shop supervisor in Cabanatuan.


RIGHT SACRIFICE

Did he do the right thing in giving up his job, Evert would often find himself questioning.

“Ano ang gagawin ko beside driving Mae-Mae to her school? Nahirapan ako. I cried at night kasi hindi ko alam kung ang ginagawa ko tama at kung magpoprogress ba talaga siya,” he confesses.

He started attending ASP seminars and practically became his daughter’s teacher for her home program. He had to train his daughter for 11 months just to teach her to go and hear Mass. This meant tons and tons of patience and persistence on his part.

Today, Evert can only look back, happy to be part of Mae-Mae’s development.

“Staying with her to help her progress was the best decision I’ve made. Kasi nobody would help Mae-Mae except us, hindi namin siyang puwedeng i-asa sa iba. Ginagawa namin ‘to para maging functional siya sa society and hindi maging burden sa iba, ‘yung ang gusto namin kaya kami persistent,” he says.

Now at 15 years old Mae-Mae, is close to fully functional. She now knows how to cook rice, wash the dishes and other basic chores. Although her communication skills are still visual-based, she communicates through pen and paper and understands instructions through visual aids.

“Happy na ako kasi dahil sa pagtitiyagako, kasi kung hindi kay Mae-Mae hindi rin ako mapupunta sa SpEd. Ang dream ko lang sa kanya eh is for her to take care of herself na hindi siya maging burden. Honestly, we’re not expecting na maging functional siya like a normal person pero ok na kami if she can take care of herself,” he shares.


SPED ADVOCATE

In 2003, Evert became institutionally active with ASP, becoming the president of ASP Metro-South Chapter, covering the cities of Parañaque, Las Piñas, and Muntinlupa. He became an active speaker, trainor, facilitator in ASP’s activities.

Upon realizing that he had to do more to help more, in 2008 this industrial technology graduate went back to school and took up a master’s degree in Special Education at the University of Perpetual Help Dalta System in Las Piñas, simultaneously taking a supplemental course on secondary education. He is due to finish this October.

“Inisip ko na mas papaniwalaan ako sa mga trainings and seminars kung meron akong napag-aralan. Kasi sa mga pinupuntahan ko, iba-ibang conditions and disabilities ang nae-encounter ko so I took up SpEd. Through ASP din kasi nakakapunta ko sa iba’t-ibang lugar para mag seminar at malay mo balang araw makapag turo din ako,” he shares.

He is currently teaching working and practical skills program at Candent Learning House, a SpEd school in BF Homes, Parañaque City. Evert dreams of putting up a technical school for adults with disabilities that can help them prepare for the workforce.

“My original dream is to have a motor shop but that all changed. Now, what my plan is, maybe, to teach college pero ‘yung pagtuturo sa special children, andito na ako, fulfilled na. Hopefully, ang gusto ko talaga magtayo ng skills center, hahasain mo lang ‘yung skills nila para ma-develop,” he says.

The one thing that Evert also hopes for today is for parents of children with autism or any other condition to be more involved with their children’s development.

“Some parents go to the schools of their children only thrice a year. More parent involvement is needed kasi hindi mo naman mae-explain ‘yung program sa mga yaya. I think ‘yung may successful stories nung mga bata na may most improvement may involvement ang parents, to support their child. Ang intervention ng bata hindi lang naman nasa kamay ng teacher ‘yan, kasama din ang parents,” he ends.


Source: Manila Bulletin

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2 comments:

Arlene David-Valiente said...

Congratulations Daddy Evert! You are on the right track.

What you did to your life is something inspiring and really a selfless act. We did it too. I am Arlene David- Valiente and my 18 year old son Justin Edward who has an autism is also the reason why my husband gave up his full time work.

We almost have the same story but my shortcoming maybe is I did not have the chance to get involve and be active in the ASP. So I want to get involved and share my experiences.

Thank you and I admire you for your selfless care for your daughter MaeMae. God bless.

Simon said...

That was very interesting what you wrote about your struggle with someone with Autism. As a matter of fact. I also have a mild form of Autism called Aspergers syndrome. I was diagnosed with this type of disorder two years ago. I'm also too from the Philippines. As a toddler. I grew up in Cubao Quezon City and through out my childhood years my family moved to BF Homes Paranaque where I attended Benedictine Abbey School in Alabang Hills. Living with this kind of Autism is really difficult to catch up academically. Right now. I live in Vancouver BC Canada for thirty one years. Last time. I was there sixteen years ago and never been back home since. My Mother was also born and raised in Cabanatuan.

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