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.

14 November 2011

Community-based rehabilitation

By DANG U. KOE, ASP Chair Emeritus

MANILA, Philippines — Four years ago, this author joined an exposure trip organized by Autism Society Philippines (ASP) and saw how community-based rehabilitation (CBR) worked for a family in a remote barrio in Batangas.

This family, dealing with autism, was empowered by NGO therapists to implement home program for the special needs of their child. After all, the nearest special school, if the family could afford it, was two hours away.

CBR builds communities that include even persons with autism and other disabilities. CBR’s strategy seeks to ensure that rights of PWDs are respected and included in development programs and services, not merely as beneficiaries but as key participants.

On April 15, 2008, the Philippines ratified the UNCRPD (United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities). CBR is a key strategy in ensuring the implementation of the UNCRPD in the villages and cities across the country, region and the globe.

The international community looks to the Philippines as one of the key leaders in the field of CBR, as we host the 2nd Asia-Pacific CBR Congress, with theme “CBR: Building Communities for Everyone”, from Nov. 29 to Dec. 1, at the Sofitel Hotel in Pasay City. The CBR Congress takes place every four years, and about 600 delegates from 47 countries across Asia-Pacific, Latin America, Africa and Europe are participating.

ASP, one of the leading parent support group organizations in the country, has been influential in the newly established ASEAN Autism Network ASP has been invited to discuss “Enriching the Practice of CBR-The ASP Experience.”

Our Angel Talker this week is Barney McGlade, head of the South East Asia and Pacific Region CBR coordination office. He is originally from Ireland and has been working for the Philippines’ Christoffen Blinden Mission (CBM) since 2004.
Persons with autism are trained to be productive individuals here at the Carmona SpEd Center and ASP Laguna's Autism Resource Center.

CBR for Persons with Disabilities

Fifteen out of every 100 people, or 15 percent of the world’s population, have a disability (World Health Organization Report on Disability 2011).

How can nations then achieve the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (MDG) if 15 percent of the populations are not included in its programmes? CBR is a key strategy in helping countries achieve the MDGs.

The late President Corazon Aquino said that “People Power is about finding and unleashing the leader in each of us. Each one of us is called to do our share. It is about building little bridges to people who can make a difference in their lives and the lives of others.” This is the heart of CBR and the 2nd Asia-Pacific CBR Congress.

Ninety percent of community-based interventions are done locally or in the village level. This builds on existing resources and services and enables communities to empower themselves and form partnerships.

Partnerships enable communities and provide information, so that when people plan and do it for themselves, another 20 percent of the population will be contributing. Persons with disabilities are also partners in development.

Capacity Building for Families

A factor to consider in CBR is health services. Examples are immunizations and neonatal or post natal screening that help improve maternal and child health. Community mental health programs also promote well-being, and reduction of ill-health that could lead to disability. Such may include therapy services like speech or occupational therapy for persons with autism, seminars to help equip parents of children with autism, or even programs for disaster preparedness.

Programs for education will empower students (both PWD and typical students), and teacher training will lead to better quality education.

Community development may also include backyard industries such as charcoal making, virgin coconut oil making, packaging and selling, cooking meals or running a canteen, like the experience of ASP Laguna Chapter’s Enabling Community under the funding of UPS (United Parcel Service Philippines).

Training of adolescents and adults to help them become self-sufficient and self-reliant will lead them to live a quality life. This will also lessen the burden on family members for their future. More people, including persons with autism, will be contributing to development, getting jobs, and enlivening the economy.

CBR benefits everyone in the community: a ramp is not just for wheelchair users — it is for senior citizens, pregnant women, for strollers and delivery trolleys and anyone who hates steps! When a child with autism or disability joins non-disabled children in school, the teacher is challenged to become a better teacher – every student benefits.

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Why attend the CBR Congress

The congress is an event of the Asia-Pacific CBR Network (established by the World Health Organization and the Asia-Pacific Centre for Development). The Philippines’ National Council on Disability Affairs of DSWD is chairing the National Organizing Committee. The committee is made up of government agencies, disabled peoples’ organizations, non-government organizations and international NGOs.

The congress will also focus on how CBR help transform countries that include everyone-embracing differences as an asset in any community. The congress will look at ways to change attitude in the community and change prejudice: social issues, gender and access to justice. There will be sessions on research, working with media puppet shows.

Most important, children and adults with autism/disabilities and their families, from rural and urban communities, will also participate.

To know more about the 2nd CBR Congress, log on to

Uploaded with permission Acknowledgment Manila Bulletin: Community-based rehabilitation


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