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.

03 October 2011

A restaurant that nourishes the heart

By DANG U. KOE, ASP Chair Emeritus

MANILA, Philippines — Most companies would shun away from affiliating with persons with disabilities. Not the Mann Hann group of restaurants which opted to forge a strong advocacy for youth with autism.

In 2005, the company partnered with Independent Living Learning Centre (ILLC) to help in the transition of a young gentleman with intellectual impairments as a bar crew at the Mann Hann SM Mega Mall branch.

To support him, the staff and crew were oriented about his condition. The supervisory staff underwent training from the ILLC for them to effectively work with people with special needs.

Indicative of Mann Hann’s fair, inclusive, and effective management, the said individual is still happily employed at Mann Hann, now together with several more employees with special needs.

Our Angel Talker this week will explain what it takes for the successful employment of a person with autism in a private company. Archie David is the executive director of ILLC (Manila, Cebu and Davao) and Quality Life Discoveries. He was awarded the Apolinario Mabini presidential award in 2008 for his work with the Rehabilitation and Empowerment of Adults and Children with Handicap Foundation, Inc.

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Individuals with special needs often experience difficulties in work due to intrinsic and external factors. Physiologic and medical conditions of persons with disabilities (PWD) may predispose them to certain impairments that could limit how they move, speak, interact and/or process information. If compounded with an inaccessible and unsupportive work environment, their opportunities for work will further be limited.

Leonid Ona’s story will illustrate a work placement process to enable individuals like him find meaningful employment.
Leonid Ona working as a staff at Mann Hann restaurant

Leonid is a young gentleman diagnosed to have borderline autism and intellectual impairments. He studied at the ILLC, a learning facility that specializes in adolescents and adults with developmental conditions. ILLC uses remedial interventions and adaptive methods that entail the use of special pieces of device and modified procedures to compensate for their limitations.

After learning essential life tasks such as self-care, home management, money management, communication and commuting skills, the ILLC recommended Leonid for work placement.

He initially underwent practical assessment to determine his interests and skills. Findings were conveyed to him and his family. This helped identify the best work option for him.

It takes a restaurant theme...

Everybody felt that simple bartending will be a suitable job for Leonid given his interests, abilities and limitations. The team determined that mainstreaming Leonid in regular food establishment will be a more feasible option than setting up his own business or working in a sheltered workshop.

The team had the good fortune of collaborating with the management of the Mann Hann group of restaurants to explore work options for Leonid. Mann Hann is a chain of 14 restaurants including its sister companies, the Mann Yann and Mannang Restaurants.

In 2006, the Mann Hann group of restaurants opened its doors to Leonid as assistant bartender in Mannang at SM Megamall. After Leonid’s successful job interview, ILLC sought permission from the management to conduct a Work Place Analysis. This allowed ILLC to recommend a “customized” job description that would fit Leonid’s abilities. Sensitivity training was conducted on the staff to help create a supportive work environment.

Job Coaching

In order to facilitate a smooth school-to-work transition, ILLC assigned a job coach who taught Leonid basic bartending skills such as preparing lemon iced tea.

Eventually, Leonid happily took in more responsibilities such as washing dishes and cleaning the kitchen. He is proud of his work and says he enjoys social activities with his workmates.

Leonid’s parents respect Leonid’s need for independence and always boost his morale by celebrating his accomplishments. They are especially grateful since Leonid has developed a healthier self concept. They have witnessed him develop into a confident and responsible young man.

Role Models

Recognized as role models, Leonid and his family were invited as resource persons in a recently held National Conference of the Philippine Society of Behavioral and Developmental Pediatrics. Here, Leonid’s family exemplified that obstacles, insurmountable as they may seem, can be overcome if families come together.

After Leonid, Mann Hann expanded its advocacy and took in two more workers with developmental conditions, such as Autism, as food checkers in their branches in Trinoma and in Mabini St., San Juan. Their job entails garnishing dishes and pairing these with corresponding sauces and condiments.

Leonid is now on his fifth year in Mannang and says he will remain loyal to the company that has been good to him all these years. ILLC continues to monitor Leonid to ensure his continued development and his employer’s satisfaction.

For its exceptional contribution in promoting a barrier-free community for people with disabilities, the Mann Hann group of restaurants was selected as deserving recipient of a 2011 PWD-friendly employer citation by the prestigious Apolinario Mabini Presidential Awards.

Uploaded with permission Acknowledgment Manila Bulletin: A restaurant that nourishes the heart


Anonymous said...

all i can say, great job!! pat on the back whos behind it as well.

babyvispo said...

we will patronize Man Hann, for being an autistic-friendly resto. i have an 11-yr old son w/ autism who's very good in plating dishes that he learned from watching Asian Food Channel.

Anonymous said...

my 9 year old autistic son is fond of watching me at the kitchen and i encourage him to help me. i think he is interested in cooking and some kitchen chores. i look forward in enrolling him at ILLC

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