Photo Credit By ASP Diliman Chapter
BY DANG UY-KOE, ASP Chair Emeritus
For two years now, a group of teeners from the Diliman chapter of Autism Society Philippines has been bringing joy to relatives, friends and autism advocates every December through their Christmas carols.
Vincent Benoza, Drix Dacanay, Budong Gaban, Paul Goze, Macky Palomares, Iking Segui and Thaniele Tan practiced as early as November for their annual caroling, with the help of their untiring mothers Resy Benoza, Rose Dacanay, Odet Goze, Jo Palomares and Marie Segui, and Telay Echano.
Mom Telay is our angel talker this week who wrote about their yuletide experience.
The kids from ASP-Diliman Chapter recently braved the cool breeze, heavy traffic and pressures of the Christmas rush to be able to continue their tradition of singing Christmas carols. This is the second year that our kids dared to show their singing talent to people outside their homes and schools.
The caroling was held to showcase their talent, provide a unique experience, create fond memories with their peers, and raise funds to support the activities of their group this year. But more than these, the caroling instilled in them valuable lessons.
For several nights, parents and children visited various places and met different people. Manifestations of their learning disability were still there such as singing in sing-song tone, flapping or swaying hands while singing, and grimacing on lights. But they were supportive of each other as they sang together in front of strangers. They didn’t only find their voices, they also formed friendships.
Our children have different moods and different ways of coping with the changes in their environment. So do the parents who have different ways of dealing with their children’s behavior and mood swings. As parents, we learned from each other’s experiences. Each parent is facing her own struggles and challenges in dealing with her child with autism. So the bonding moments during our caroling activity helped us express our dilemma and made us closer. Slowly, we have grown into a bigger family.
Our children, on the other hand, enjoyed the caroling nights. They survived the long hours of rehearsals by playing and making fun of themselves. The caroling experience provided them a sense of belonging, and enhanced their self-esteem.
The funds generated from the caroling will support the Chapter’s Siblings Workshop in February. This will enable their siblings to fully understand and support them. The caroling activity has also reached out to non-ASP members. One of its future beneficiaries is a mother in UP whose seven-year old boy has a learning disability. Seeing the support of the carolers’ mothers, she is hoping that her son will also be able to develop his own talents someday. Our ASP chapter slogan aptly summarizes this-- children with autism are different but they are not less than other children.
As parents we will do anything, even sacrificing our comforts in the best interest of our children. We cannot make this dream real for our children without persistence, hard work, and teamwork. We know that the road is still far but we can already see the light at the end of the tunnel. Parents, never give up on them, for they will bring out the best in each of us. Kayang-kaya kung sama-sama!
(The 2013 National Autism Consciousness Week will be held on Jan. 20 to 27. The weeklong celebration includes seminars, forums, educational trips, art exhibits, contests and family day. Kick-off event is Angels Walk for Autism on Jan. 20, 8 a.m. at the SM Mall of Asia. The event is open to the public. For details, please follow Autism Society Philippines on Facebook, Twitter and blogspot.)
This article appeared in print and online by Manila Bulletin on 6 January 2013