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.

19 January 2011

Building Dreams at ASEAN Autism Network

By: Grace Adviento, ASP National President


Flying for a weeklong workshop and conference excited me as I looked forward to having a large scale Family Support Group with co-parents from other countries. Together with my travelling companions, Ranil Sorongon (ASP Executive Director) and Riza Cansanay (ASP Laguna Chapter President), we headed for Bangkok, last December 13-17, 2010.


ASP Executive Director Ranil Sorongon (2nd from left) and ASP President Grace Adviento

(6th from left) with the other AAN participants



The first ASEAN Autism Network Workshop and Congress was held in Thailand, the host country, with participants are from Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Vietnam, including representatives from the Asia Pacific Center on Disability (APCD).


APCD, with its center located in Bangkok, is endorsed by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific as a regional center in line with the Biwako Millennium Framework’s action towards an Inclusive, Barrier-free and Rights-based Society for Persons with Disabilities in the Asian and Pacific Region.


The first 3 days were devoted to the Workshops for the Capacity Development of Self-Help Organizations, which was organized by (APCD), in collaboration with the Association of Parents of Thai Persons with Autism (APTPA). On the fourth day, the ASEAN Autism Network (AAN) was formally inaugurated and henceforth the signing of the ANN constitution.


ASP Laguna Chapter Riza Cansanay (in green) during her discussion



Not knowing what to expect, from the room filled with about 30 people, I listened intently to the representatives from 10 countries and began to understand their plight. At the workshop, representatives gave Situational Analyses, reporting on the different challenges encountered, the current statistics on people with autism, existing local laws for persons with disabilities, collaborations between groups and organizations related to autism, as well as the Definition of Autism is in their respective countries.


To achieve the ultimate goals, the workshop aimed to achieve three main activities for persons with disabilities: (1) Networking and Collaboration among government and non-government organizations, as well as the private sector to support persons with disability, (2) Human Resource Development through training of PWD work-related and (3) Information Support for All.


From all the information gathered, AUTISM ADVOCACY still plays a big role with primary concerns pointing towards funding, accessibility and affordability of services, which are very basic. What struck me the most was the willingness of the other country representatives offering to help each other, even though they too have their own local concerns.


This experience not only allowed me to enrich my knowledge on ASEAN’s Diverse Culture, it also made me realize that one of the key factors facing autism is the STRUGGLE of FAMILIES.


Each year in our country, families, schools, centers, professionals, friends and supporters from both from the government and non-government organizations converge for the annual Angels Walk for Autism. The celebrations continue to grow bigger and the Autism Advocacy, brighter.


As we continue to SHARE HOPES with our fellow country men dealing with autism, we equally BUILD DREAMS for the future of our children, together, hand in hand with the ASEAN Autism Network.


According to our Chair Emeritus, Dang Koe, “Ang ASP ay KSP o Kulang sa Pansin.” At oo nga, napapansin na nga tayo. Maraming salamat.

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