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.

26 July 2010

“What has Francis Kong Got to do with Autism?”

By Tiffany Tan, ASP Board Secretary


Last week, our office received this Facebook post “What has Francis Kong Got to do with Autism?” in reaction to ASP Diliman Chapter’s Special Parenting Seminar. In fairness to Francis Kong, we issued this article in response to post.


Francis Kong has been traveling around the nation, giving lectures and seminars to thousands of people, filling up his calendar.


Secondly, he is also a father to three grown children. He however admits he is no expert in parenting, but adheres to the Biblical principle of “Train up a child the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not turn from it,” which sounds practically like ASP’s Early Intervention Program.


Thirdly, Francis himself admitted he hated math and wouldn’t sit still in class. He flunked 2 years in high school. “But I earned a PHD in High School,” he boasts. In case you’re wondering what PHD means, it’s “Passing-High-School-with-Difficulty,” he said in jest.


In his blog, he said he is absolutely certain of having AD/HD (but was never official diagnosed). “I may have ADHD but I know that God has a plan for me. You should know that Scriptures say that you are wonderfully and beautifully made.”


So I guess, his sincerity in admitting he had some sort of “special needs,” more than qualifies him also to speak also for autism.


Crusade for Specials


Francis Kong and Malu Tiongson-Ortiz, speakers of the said Parenting Seminar


Francis was joined by mom, Malu Tiongson-Ortiz, Vice President of Down Syndrome Association of the Philippines. She is the author of Embracing God’s Purpose for my Special Child. She admits that persons with Down Syndrome have different challenges from those with autism.


Many parents come up to her to ask why she is carrying on this crusade of campaigning for “Embracing God’s Purpose”. “Ultimately, we can not, not speak of God, since he is our Creator. He is also the Creator of our children – both the regular and the special (meaning those with special needs).”


Malu is mother to Clarissa, who has Down Syndrome and other disabilities. Clarissa is also profoundly deaf in both ears, is mute and recently diagnosed to be bi-polar. “I just prayed to the Creator and surrendered Clarissa to Him,” she declared. “I prayed: ‘Teach me to be a special mom’. I sought God’s help.”


Questions need Answers

After the discussions, questions on parenting were addressed to both speakers. Francis received questions on how to cope with a philandering husband. While the facilitator was reading the question, he suddenly turned to the tarpaulin of ASP Diliman Chapter with a puzzled look. “Akala ko parenting seminar ito, hindi marriage encounter,” (I thought this is a parenting seminar and not a marriage encounter seminar.)


Francis goes on to give some tips and invited the audience to enroll in their church’s planned out-of-town seminar for couples. Malu also took the chance to plug “The Praying Wife” module, where she also offers counseling to wives.


ASP-Exec Director, Ranil Sorongon and ASP Trustee, Carmel Almendrala during the open forum


ASP Trustee, Carmel Almendrala commended Francis’ engaging rapport with the audience, but was eager to hear his answer to “What is the difference in parenting typical vs. atypical kids.”


One, the similarities are: they are still our kids. They are God’s gift to us. Two, the difference is - the ‘LOVE’ is not the same; the bonding between the parent and the special child is even stronger. Three, to the parents, remember also that God will not give us something we can not bear. Four, He has given a special dispensation of grace to special kids. Five, God however wants us to be like these children, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’


Postscript from Francis’ Facebook

“I spoke this morning (July 22) to the parents of special children and had a great time with them…Today is fruitful…looking forward to more talks and trainings to come. Thanks to all the positive encouragements. Sorry but no copy of the talk is available as I tend to speak outside a script. This is normal for extremely talkative people like me. God bless you.


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ASP work very hard to keep families empowered. Parents of children with special needs are also special. So sign up now for the next Family Support Group. Call 926 6941 and/or 929 8447 or email us at autismphil@pldtdsl.net.

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