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.

18 January 2011

Fulfilling a Special Purpose

By: Joy Nerona-Ofrecia, ASP City of San Fernando, Pampanga Chapter

No amount of words could express how hard and painful it was when my eldest son, Juris, was diagnosed to have mild autism at age two. That was October 2001, but thanks to the Lord’s unbelievable strength and power, He made it easier for me to accept my son’s condition. I believe that the Lord has given me a special purpose to fulfill: for me to take care and love Juris better, more than anyone else.
A 11-year old, Juris currently studied at Independent Living Learning Center.

With that special purpose, I prayed for wisdom to expect great things from Him; for I believe, nothing is impossible with God. So, I decided to forgo what should have been a normal life and focus on helping Juris be the best that he can be – to reach his full potential, be independent and productive.

During the first four years after diagnosis, I learned that money is not all that will give us hope. Although our family resources were stretched, we enrolled Juris in special education, speech and occupational therapies at Bulilit Pleyskul for two years and at Cahbriba Autism Center for another two years, both in Laguna. For his other needs, we availed of the Thera-free Program, courtesy of UP-CAMP. In 2006, we decided to move to Pampanga to fully implement his Home Program.

Last October, I attended the 2nd Regional Autism Conference, Cebu. The speakers talked about contributing factors that lead to the significant progress in the lives of children with autism. I could not discount the value of early detection and I realized from the conference that there were some areas that I might have missed out in Juris’ early intervention. But, according to the speakers, it is never too late. Although difficult, it is still possible.

Most of the speakers also stressed on the importance of parent training. I took up MA in Special Education to augment the valuable knowledge gained from the shared experiences of other parents, sought occasional consultation with professionals, and attended various seminars and trainings. I continue to educate myself about autism and remain involved in his education. My son’s intervention program also never stops evolving.

Another contributing factor is an ideal educational setting. At the present, Juris attends Independent Living Learning Center in Mandaluyong City, for pre-vocational and socialization activities. Juris is now eleven. His interest and skills are in the use of the latest computer gadgets, which can be overwhelming. He reads and communicates satisfactorily; though he continues to exhibit some challenging behaviors.

And lastly, family involvement. Our children (with autism) may remain living with us, during our lifetime, so I continually keep myself fit for my son. Nine years have passed since the diagnosis, and I can not overemphasize also, that we should have consistency in implementing programs at home, and involve the members of the family (like siblings/other members of the household). This has become very vital to Juris’ success in attaining independent living skills.

There is another realization that occurred to me. In my continuing faith walk, I have recognized that everything that happened in our life’s journey happens for a bigger and wider purpose. I realized that I am not only mom to Juris, and of course, to Patricia; but also to other children with autism. So, I have decided to help other families dealing with autism. To accomplish this, I embraced the responsibility of being an advocate for autism by spreading awareness and fighting for autism rights.
Eldest son Juris and Super Mom Joy

To all parents of special children reading this, as you go on the journey with your child, I want you to keep meditating on some questions below. Change your previous answers if you have to. What is important here is that you should be able to evaluate yourself, whether or not you are FULFILLING the SPECIAL PURPOSE you were created for:
  1. What are your specific goals for your child?
  2. Are these goals realistic?
  3. Are these goals based on what you want or on your child’s needs, strengths and weaknesses?
  4. What are your plans to achieve these goals?
  5. What do you need in order to implement your plans?
  6. How will you ensure that these goals are achieved?
  7. How far could you go in order to ensure your child will realize the best of his potentials?


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