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.

12 December 2011

Make the Right Real

By: Dang Koe, ASP Chair Emeritus

MANILA, Philippines — More than 3,000 people joined the Walk for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (PWD) in SM Mall of Asia last December 2. There were representatives from various PWD organizations, parent support groups like Autism Society Philippines, non-government and government organizations led by DSWD Secretary Dinky Soliman and DILG Secretary Jessie Robredo.



We care — Above, participants of the
Walk for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities write on the
Pledge of Commitment wall.
(Photo courtesy of Deaf E-News)



There were even delegates from the 62 countries represented during the recently concluded 2nd Asia-Pacific Congress in Community-Based Rehabilitation.

The Walk was also in celebration of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. This day aims to promote the rights of persons with disabilities and gains to be derived from their integration in every aspect of the political, social, economic and cultural life of their communities.

At the height of these celebrations, ASP received this post on our Facebook wall, “Mawalang galang po, mga mam, meron na ba talagang sulosyon sa problema ng mga taong may kapansanan?” (Excuse me for asking this, dear madams, but is there a real solution to the problems of persons with disabilities?”)

Our Angel Talker Tiffany Tan launched an online forum among selected ASP leaders: Riza Cansanay of Laguna Chapter, Jo Palomares and Telay Gaban of Diliman Chapter, and ASP Executive Director Ranil Sorongon and this author as ASP chair emeritus.

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What is the impact on PWDs when support groups like ASP work for their rights?

ASP NATITIONAL CHAPTER (NC): People are more aware of autism. Families are now more vocal and emplowered about having a child with autism, because they know that there is a strong support organization behind them.

LAGUNA CHAPTER (LC): Parents help their children with autism (CWA) become self-advocates, and siblings are groomed to be second-line advocates, too. The information campaign on the rights of PWDs, attending forums of other disability groups also help create the impact on them.

What can happen to support groups when there are no more “catalysts” (funding organizations, government support)?

NC: Leaders are crucial in sustaining the programs and services of an organization. With or without third-party catalysts, parents will always be motivated to be the catalysts for their children’s future. And this is what is happening now nationwide among the 56 chapters of ASP.

DILIMAN CHAPTER (DC): Local chapters are organized with strategic, short-term plans. This also leads to fund raising initiatives, which are undertaken by the parents themselves, such as the recent Tiangge for Autism held at Eton Centris by our chapter, where mother members and children with autism participated in entrepreneurial endeavor.

LC: The Live Learn and Play program, initially supported by UPS or United Parcel Service, continues to sustain the needs of the chapter through the Autism Resource Center. Adult and adolescent PWAs are trained in managing a canteen (cooking, serving as waiters and cashiers, marketing and budgeting), of course with the assistance of volunteer therapists and mother-advocates. The project became sustainable as a result of support from the community in Laguna, which continues to patronize ARC and their projects.

What advocacy work is being done to change attitudes among support groups in the evolution of “disability/impairment” from medical to social to rights-based approach?

NC: Networking with other disability groups also empower ASP to know the real “beat” in the PWD sector. More laws for PWDs are being filed or implemented. There are more entities willing to collaborate with ASP such as the Vizzle Technology in partnership with Globe Telecommunications and two partner public Schools.

PVI volunteers also collaborate with ASP for fund raising projects and training for volunteers to help CWA in yearly camps. Manila Jaycees in partnership with UP Camp Manila Chapter came up with awareness posters which are currently being distributed to centers and schools. There is our long-running partnership with SM Supermalls for sensory-friendly film showing, mall front-liners orientation on Caring for PWDs, photography exhibits, etc.

DC: Local city ordinances for PWDs such as the PDAO (Person with Disability Affairs Office) Law are signed. PDAO serves as the coordinating office to address the needs of PWDs in Quezon City. The chapter also advocates for the allocation of budget for PWDs. Access services from government like the issuance of PWD IDs, and later discounts given to PWDs on purchase of medicines.

What changes occur when attitudes and practices among support groups transform to a mode of enablement and sharing decisions with community members and clients?

NC: Parents are more aware of what needs to be done for their CWAs, where to get help or ask for support. PWAs are becoming more “vocal” about their autism (not hiding about their disability); stigma is lessened.

DC: Children with autism are able to develop their own potentials by participating in community and school activities (eg, children express themselves in photography, sports and art lessons). Inclusion of children with disabilities in regular schools: this was done through the chapter’s active cooperation in enhancing the curriculum of SPED Department in specific schools.

Children with autism made use of sports facilities (such as the one in NAPOCOR). This contributed to the success of the sports programs of the chapter on basketball and football.

Access to professional services and organizations such as Canon Philippines and John Chua’s Photography with a Difference also helped answer some of the recreational programs of the chapter, as well as discovery of PWA talents on photography.

LC: Parents are more-determined for their CWAs to succeed in life, more than the PWA himself/herself. The emergence of numerous chapters nationwide shows the aggressiveness of parents to advocate for their children.

Parents of CWAs can easily relate to the community, especially when the issue on parenthood is tackled. The parent-child bond is a strong bond, which is universal and that every/and any parent can relate to.

Postscript: Asked back what he thinks is the solution to the problems of PWD, the man who posted that question answered: “pagbabago at pag-asa…nasa atin” (change and hope… comes from ourselves). Well said, indeed.


Uploaded with permission
Acknowledgement Manila Bulletin: Make the Right Real

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