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.

30 March 2012

WAAD a Bill

By: Tiffany Tan, ASP Board Secretary

On December 18, 2007, the UN General Assembly Resolution 62139 declared every 2nd Day of April as World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD). The resolution encourages all UN Member States to take measures to raise awareness about autism throughout society, and to encourage early diagnoses and early intervention.

According to the United Nations, current estimates show that 1% of the global population is said to be on the autism spectrum. In the Philippines, an estimated close to a million families deal with autism daily. This expresses deep concern at the prevalence and high rate of incidents worldwide. Autism does not discriminate age, race, religion, ethnicity or socioeconomic group, but touches the lives of everyone, equally.

The Philippines will commemorate the 5th World Autism Awareness Day on April 2, 2012, with the theme "Making the Rights Real for Person with Autism". Currently, there are 8 autism bills filed in the 15th Congress.

Senators who file various autism welfare bills in the 15th Congress.

Three of them are filed by Senator Miriam Santiago: SBN-3133: Autism Spectrum Disorder Management Act, SBN-1644: Advisory Committee on Autism and Immune Deficiency Disorders in Infants and Toddlers, and SBN-1626: Autism Prevention, Early Detection, Diagnosis and Treatment Act.

Two of them by Senator Manny B. Villar: SBN-1273: Autism Registry Act and SBN-1124: Interagency Initiative to Enhance Services for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

And the other three, SBN-287: Philippine Commission on Autism Spectrum Disorders Act by Senator Antonio "Sonny" F. Trillanes; SBN-810: Autism Center by Senator Jinggoy P. Ejercito-Estrada; and lastly SBN-40: Comprehensive Autism Intervention Act of 2010 by both Senators Manuel "Lito" M., Lapid and Ralph G. Recto.

Among the 8 bills filed, Senate Bills 810 and 40 are considered in Senate Bill 3002 or the Special Education Act. The bill is sponsored by Senator Edgardo Angara. A budget appropriation of Six Hundred Million Pesos (P600,000,000.00) per year for five (5) consecutive years will be sourced from the General Appropriations Act (for the SPED programs) and a supplementary appropriation of Twenty Million Pesos (P20,000,000.00) will be sourced from the President's Social Fund and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).

Let’s go back to the UN Resolution saying autism is one of only three official health-specific United Nations Days and will bring the world's attention to autism-a growing global health crisis.

Sadly, Filipinos dealing with autism have to be content on the partial piece of pie when this bill will be finally signed into law. Since the Special Education Act is not “autism specific” but will benefit all children with disabilities in general.

This should not sadden us as Autism Society Philippines continues to work harder for the future of families dealing with autism. Meanwhile, as WAAD website specifies, we not only commemorate, but also celebrate the unique talents and skills of persons with autism. This should be a day that individuals with autism are warmly welcomed and embraced in community events around the Philippines and around the globe.

To celebrate the 5th World Autism Awareness Day, Autism Society Philippines has prepared the following activities. Click here for more information.

Let us work together to Make the Rights Real for Persons with Autism and dream that one day we can finally say, “WAAD a Bill”.

*****

Be an Autism Angel. Help ASP see an environment that empowers persons with autism to become to the best of their potentials, self-reliant, productive and socially accepted members of the community. Donate generously to ASP Programs and Services, Donate to Autism Society Philippines Metrobank Kamias Branch 047-3-04751874-2. Email us at autismphils@gmail.com or call (02) 926-6941 or (02) 929-8447.

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