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.

24 September 2010

AutiSM spreads PWD Friendly environment to ASEAN Delegates

By Tiffany Tan, ASP Board Secretary

AutiSM is the coined name given to the partnership of SM Supermalls and Autism Society Philippines. The partnership started in 2004 and has led to an increase in PWD awareness and advocacy in different malls around the country.

ASP long time partner and Autism Angel advocates flew from SM Supermalls to the United Nations Convention Center in Bangkok, Thailand for the South-to-South Cooperation on Disability Conference from August 19-20, 2010.

SM Supermalls’ delegation was headed by President, Ms. Annie Garcia and SM Program on Disability Affairs (SMPDA) Director, Eng. Bien Mateo. SM was invited to share their “PWD Integration Program” to the participants of the high level meeting.

SM Supermalls’ delegation was headed by President Ms. Annie Garcia (5th from left) and SM Program on Disability Affairs (SMPDA) Director, Eng. Bien Mateo (3rd from right)

Persons with disabilities (PWDs) include people with autism (PWA). Click here to know more about the Autism Ramp of Accessibility.

Conference Delegates compose of senior government focal points on disability and business representatives from the region of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and implementers of community-based rehabilitation from 19 countries in Asia and the Pacific.

Among them Mr. Akiie Ninomiya, Executive Director of Asia Pacific Center on Disability (APCD), Mr. Katsuji Onoda, Chief Advisor of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), JICA expert, Mr. Ryuhei Sano, and Aiko Akiyama, representative of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP).

According to Garcia, SM aims to share their corporate social responsibility on concerns for customers with special needs through their SM Cares Program. She said past experiences have taught SM to be more sensitive to the needs of PWDs; and thus the creation of SM Program on Disability Affairs in 2004.

“We believe that the greatest contribution to the burden of PWDs is the ATTITUDE of the COMMUNITY towards them. This is our biggest challenge and we face this head on,” said Garcia during her privilege speech.

Attempting to provide an inclusive environment, SM Supermalls have expanded beyond once a year celebrations by accommodating PWDs groups and their activities throughout the year.

Autism Friendly Movies

In October 2009, SM Cinema pioneered the first Sensory Friendly Movies. Here, the cinemas are adjusted to accommodate the sensory needs of persons with autism by toning down the sound systems and the turning down of pilot lights. This first run, in partnership with ASP, accommodated children with autism and their families.

CWAs with their caregivers and parents during the first sensory-friendly movie

“Seeing the emotions and happiness of the parents watching the movies together with their children with autism is so fulfilling; which strengthens our resolve to continue making a difference in the lives of PWDs.” Click here to know more about the SM event.

Colors of “A” Spectrum Project

Another one is the PWD integration through the Photography Exhibits. Initially, Certified Autism Angel, John Chua approached ASP for a pilot project – a photography workshop for children with autism.

Cavite Chapters Colors of "A" Spectrum Workshop

The pilot project aimed to create an environment for PWAs and their families to have bonding time together, through photography. Photos captured by PWAs, as well as volunteer photographers then collated as subjects of the exhibit. Due to the success of the first run, eventually, Colors of “A” Spectrum Workshop and Exhibit also catered to ASP Chapters nationwide.

With several successful runs exhibited in different SM malls, the project spins off to the creation of Photography with a Difference-Touching Lives Through Photography or simply known as PWD. The PWD Project extends the same concept to other PWD groups.

Other Collaborative Projects

The National Autism Consciousness Week, a week-long celebration mandated by Presidential Proclamation 711 is also supported by SM Supermalls. For the last three years, SM Mall of Asia, one of the largest malls in the world, hosted the Angels Walk for Autism, gathering more than 5,000 participants this year. Other ASP Chapters also held their own walks in SM branches. Click here to read more.

From Left, Ms. Janina San Miguel, ASP Chair Emeritus Dang Koe, Cong. Tieng of Buhay Party List , NCDA Chairperson Lovely Romulo,President SM Prime Hans Sy, President SM Supermalls, Ms. Annie Garcia, Director SM Program on Disability Affairs Engr. Bien Mateo and ASP President Grace Adviento

During April 2, the UN Declared World Autism Awareness Day is also celebrated with SM Supermalls as partners. Click here to read more.

ASP Talents during the World Autism Awareness Day at SM North EDSA

Understanding Special Customers, one of their projects also collaborates with ASP and other PWD groups to inform mall frontliners about autism as a means to equip them on how to better serve special customers. To date, ASP has oriented more than 20,000 guards, housekeepers and others in different SM malls nationwide.

SM Orientation at SM Mall of Asia

Other projects also include Family Day Celebrations, Painting Exhibits, Seminars and Conferences. One of the most recent one is the 2009 Autism Beyond Borders, the first Southeast Asian Conference on Autism, at SMX Complex.

the first Southeast Asian Conference on Autism, at SMX Complex

“We strongly believe that by making their presence felt and integrating PWDs in our malls, we are helping in changing the attitude of the society towards them,” concluded Garcia.

“We are here because we see, we think and we talk business and committing ourselves to implement an inclusive CSR is good for business. We shall carry on with collaborating with partners and stake holders to continue leading this initiative in the Philippines, and eventually, in other ASEAN Countries.”

Acknowledgments: ACPD, JICA, ESCAP, SM Supermalls and SMPDA.

ASP continues to keep you informed about the latest news on Autism Angels. Are you an Angel for Autism? Make AUTISM your Corporate Social Responsibility Project. Be pro-active and help a more than 500 thousand Filipino families dealing with autism everyday. DONATE generously to ASP Programs and Services. Email us at or call us at 926-6941 or 929-8447 for ASP collaborative projects.


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