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.

18 June 2011

ASP Laguna, Empowering Parents of CWAs in Quirino Province

By: Lian Del Valle and Vay Chavez, ASP Laguna Chapter

May 22 to 27, 2011. Cabarroguis, Quirino Province. ASP Laguna Chapter Team composed of Jerome Nicolas, Lian del Valle, Vay Chavez, Cathy Lopez and Marivic Ramos left Laguna at 2:30 in the morning and arrived in the Province of Quirino at around 1:30 in the afternoon after a long 9-hour travel by bus. Quirino is southeastern portion of Cagayan Valley (Region II), situated within the Upper Cagayan River Basin bounded by Isabela on the north, Aurora on the east and southeast and Nueva Vizcaya on the west and southwest.


(from left) Cathy Lopez, Marivic Ramos, Lian Del Valle, Jerome Nicolas and Vay Chavez


Quirino Provincial Administrator (PA), Ms. Elizabeth Nicolas and her assistant Ms. Angelita Agustin welcomed the team with dinner followed by a thorough discussion of the schedules and activities for the next five days. The team then went to Abrasa MPC Hotel, a hotel run by a cooperative, for final planning and tasking for the five-day training period. Daisy Vadil-Garcia, Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) Officer, was assigned to us as our coordinator.


Participants of the seminar


Autism Early Detection Seminar

There are 41 participants composed of parents, teachers and principals of public schools, Barangay Nutrition Scholars (BNS), and Day Care Workers. One parent participant is already a member of ASP registered at the national office. Most of them have no or very few knowledge on autism.


Questions raised were mostly linked to acquiring basic information. For example, “Paano malalaman kung may autism ang bata?” “Saan dadalhin?” “Gagaling pa ba sila?” “Pwedeng bang turuan ang batang na diagnose”, “Maari ba silang makapag-aral sa iskwela kasama ang ibang bata”.


One by one, the resource speakers tried their best to unveil the facts using different methodologies, so that the participants will have the correct information on autism. Video presentations, lecture and discussions, demo teaching, focus group discussions, workshops, case analysis, and role playing were used as training materials. The open forum became the most emotional moment of the training while parents shared their trials and triumphs over autism.


Since the Province of Quirino didn’t have an accurate disability data on that area, the Laguna team collated information from the participants. There are about 24 cases of autism from the three out of six municipalities of the province, which did not include mental retardation, Down Syndrome and other disabilities. The data was then provided to the ECCD officer and PA Nicolas and will serve as the basis for to extend the support needed for this group.


Livelihood Training

To sustain the operations of ASP Laguna Chapter’s programs and projects, this time, the team members are participants in the Banana Chips and Peanut Cooking Seminar. This will serve as one of the enterprises for the chapter’s Autism Resource Center’s young adults with autism and related disabilities. Later, parents in ASP Laguna Chapter will be trained by the team to pass on the knowledge to other families of CWAs.


Eliza E. Tomas, recipient of “Namumukod-Tanging Entrepinoy ng Lambak Cagayan” Award in 2004, was our resource speaker on the banana chips. Her personal testimony, industriousness and determination inspired the participants to do their best in every endeavor they will undertake.


Strategic Planning Workshop

As part of the training program, a strategic planning workshop was conducted for the participants. They were grouped into four, 1 group for parents, 2 groups for BNS and day care workers, and 1 group for public school teachers.


Collective results reflected they wanted another round of training program, having realized that they need more help in terms of information and skills in handling children with autism (CWA). Usually, CWAs are mixed with other disabilities in the class.


Moreover, they planned to submit a proposal to their local government for financial assistance for trainings based in Quirino and tap ASP Laguna for Hands-on Training for teachers on teaching children with autism. All participants hoped that theirs plans will push through.


Birth of Quirino Chapter

The main course of the week-long training program highlights a positive response from the parent-teacher core group in Quirino, who joined ASP Laguna team in final planning .They eventually formed their group as ASP Quirino Chapter. The core group proceeded with the election of officers. On the same day, a letter of intent was submitted to ASP National Office. They see the need of organized and consolidated efforts so that their voices will be heard for better implementation of plan of activities. One of the activities lined up is to find the families with autism to gather an approximate population. This was also what Gov. Jun Cua of Quirino wants to know.



Finally, towards the end of the week, Pinoy Power: The Laguna Experience of Work, Live and Play for Young Adults with Autism and Other Disabilities was presented to ECCD Officer Daisy Garcia-Vadil and to Quirino core group president Grace Vicente in her office. This was an encouragement to them since they see that different sectors of the community can work together for a common goal.

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