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.

21 September 2010

Oh, Happy Day

By: Maya Ignacio, ASP Marikina Valley Chapter


I am mom to JC, child with autism. I am sad to admit that when JC was about three to five years old, I was reluctant to attend big events with large venues together with him. Certainly, it’s not because I am embarrassed or ashamed of what others might say about us; it’s the constant explaining to different people about JC during close encounters with him.


The reality is there are still a lot of people out there who are ignorant of what autism is.... I see the ignorance through their raised eyebrows when JC bumps into them or grabs their drink; their long stares when he gives out loud verbal outbursts during times he has to stay quiet. When these things happen, I often feel the need to explain my son’s condition or inform them about autism, over and over again.


But this is not one of those days…


Our chapter president, Alex Cabason met us to explain to us about ASP Marikina Chapters’ Colors of “A” Spectrum Photography Workshop. Our family was so eager to join and be part of – a different big event and in a large venue, but there was no reluctance on my part.


When we arrived at Manila Ocean Park, it was remarkable to see so many photographers clicking away their Canon SLRs. We were introduced to Arah, our assigned photographer. She taught JC to take pictures using a point and shoot camera. Through her mentorship, JC took pictures of the fishes at Manila Ocean Park. She also captured beautiful pictures of our family’s bonding moments.


The Ignacio Family with Autism Angel John Chua


My Family’s Firsts

Edwin, my husband hanged out with fellow “tough daddies” and had fun. Seeing he is not alone in striving hard to earn, so that his son will be given all the therapies, schooling and guidance he needs.


My daughter Maedin met Lia, who also has a brother with autism. They compared notes, “Si JC nga takbo ng takbo pag lumalabas kame”….and Lia replied, “Ay, ako rin, ung kapatid ko, takbo rin nang takbo.” She was proud talking about her brother. And amazingly, I didn’t feel a trace of envy for attention JC was getting that day. Maedin made a friend and what wonders a friend can do to change the mindset of a child.


JC also made new friends, Hina, Roj and Lia. JC bonded with his older sister Ate Maedin when they played at Kinder Zoo, and took pictures of the animals. JC even rode on an ostrich, touched an alligator and held a snake!


During this time, I noticed that my son’s sensory issues (on sounds) did not manifest as much. This is a good indication that he was enjoying nature and the things around him after all, the whole time.


To run, jump, have verbal stims, to spin, accidentally grab somebody’s drink, and maybe have a bit of tantrum on the side. On that particular day, it was JC’s day. He was VIP. And it was alright. No judgmental stares, no inquiring eyes; just kind understanding eyes, seeing him as he is, as one beautiful boy.


I felt secure, for it was the first time that the whole family enjoyed a worry, stress free day. It was for the simple fact that we were in the company of people who are EDUCATED on what AUTISM really is.


Other Firsts

It was a first “leisure time activity” for our family to enjoy the company of fellow ASP members, outside committee meetings and seminars. It was the first time for me to “bond” with Speech Therapist Teacher Joanne, outside the boundaries of the clinic. It was the first time for us, families of special children, to enjoy a relaxed boat ride, for all the fathers and volunteer photographers to an impromptu boat race. We all felt connected. It was a good feeling for me.


All moments were captured by a camera…from different photographers at different angles. It was amazing. The photographers had turned moments to extraordinary pictures that we will keep and treasure. Many, many thanks for making our “OH, HAPPY DAY”.


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Acknowledgments: ASP National, ASP Marikina Valley Chapter and hard working officers Alex, Marivi, Vic and Lyn, Hazel, Teacher Joanne, and Teacher Menchie, Certified Autism Angel, John Chua, Canon Philippines, Sunday Shooters Club, Eng. Bien Mateo, SM Supermalls, Manila Ocean Park, Manila Zoo and Kinder Zoo.

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