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.

10 January 2013

Lakbay Aral on a Budget


Photo Credit: UP-Camp Manila Chapter

By: Rociel Dimaculangan and Janette Rodriguez, ASP UP Camp Manila Chapter

Last November 29, 2012, the ASP UP CAMP Manila finally made the long awaited trip to ASP Laguna’s Resource Center.  Thanks to the donation of our member, Ms. Shirley Reginaldo and the persistence in looking for a means of transportation of Ms. Dhalia Analupa, we were able to visit and observe the Work-Live-Play Program for Young Adults with Autism of ASP Laguna chapter.  Nine mothers, one father, and eight PWAs (five from the Adult-Adolescent group of our chapter), one caregiver and one volunteer member were able to join the activity.  One of the objectives of our trip was to inspire these families of other possible projects for their kids and see if we can also replicate the said program in our chapter. Even if we are to use only a multicab to fit the 20 participants, it didn’t stop us in pursuing the trip.

Mommy Rociel Dimaculangan recounts her experience:

" I woke up early and grabbed a shower in preparation for the long trip to Los Banos Laguna for our Lakbay Aral on a Budget. Yes, that is on budget as we do not have to pay for a resource speaker or pay for a venue.  ASP UP CAMP Manila Chapter Lakbay Aral participants were the parent members and children with autism (CWA). We visited the Autism Resource Center in Sta. Fe, Los Banos Laguna to learn about its program and its best practices which we hope to replicate in ASP UP CAMP Manila.

I arrived at the meeting place UP CAMP Clinic for Therapy Services (CTS) at around 7:05 where few participants are already waiting for the rest of the group to arrive. I quietly sat down waiting for a familiar face to come since I’m new in the group.  Listening to group members’ conversations, I could sense that they knew each other for quite long.  Thankfully, I did not wait for long when Jeng showed up.

Jeng and I left the group to look for a store where we could buy breakfast, since we still are waiting for the vehicle we are to use. We end up buying at a nearby convenience store.

Finally at around 7:30 all of the participants were ready to jump in on the multicab.  Yes, multicab for 20 participants, of course we have to maximize our resources.  Some of the participants sat on monoblock chairs that were placed in the middle of the cab just so everybody can fit in.

It took us two and a half hours to get to the ASP Resource Center (ARC).  Once again I felt that I’m travelling for a team building just like when I’m still in the corporate world.  Though the transportation was not that convenient like those I used to ride on the corporate team building but it’s the cheerful conversation from the participants that made our travel enjoyable.  I enjoyed the jokes that were cracked by the parent participants and I love to see how parents and their children with autism bond with each other.

After an enjoyable trip under the hit of the sun and the traffic, we arrived at ARC before lunch time where staff and young PWDs expect our group to arrive.  Since it’s almost lunch time, our group and ARC facilitator agreed that we should have our lunch first.  We bought our lunch at the ARC cafeteria where PWD young adults serve as the crew and cashier.  I was amazed with the cashier so I tested his mathematical whiz and he passed. I can’t help wishing for my daughter to have exceptional skills too.

After lunch, Mommy Riza Cansanay gave a power point presentation about the ARC history, their best practices and how they help and make PWD young adults live a productive and meaningful life.  By creating a program that will fit in to the capability of PWD young adults.  The program even includes leisure and sports where PWD young adults find opportunity to relax and to make friends just like typical young adults.

We proceeded to a tour of the different work stations where PWD young adults work.  Each PWD are assigned to a job depending on their capabilities.  Each work section has a job coach who supervises and provides assistance whenever necessary.   There are some who make gift items from beads, paper bricket, and paper bag from old magazines.  There are also job services like photocopying services, clerical and food delivery services which are from the center’s cafeteria.

What makes me more impressed is there is system in place which is like in the corporate. They use scorecards where their compensation will be based.  Young PWDs are aware of it so they are disciplined coming on time in the center and watching their own behavior as each untoward behavior has a corresponding demerit that has direct impact on the monetary compensation they will be receiving, which is given twice a year through profit sharing…..amazing!

Heading back to Manila, I can’t help the feeling of being grateful that I’ve participated in this Lakbay Aral.  My spirit is lifted up and I find more reason to hope PWDs like my daughter is possible to live a meaningful life. As long as me, my family and people who love her will always look for what she is capable of doing. We have to find ways on how to utilize her capabilities and maximize her potentials to become a productive member of society, just like those young PWDs I’ve met in ARC at Los Banos Laguna."

Hoping for more ASP Chapters to replicate the Work-Live-Play program of ARC Laguna.  How good it would be to have different Autism Resource Centers in the future where our kids can show how productive and helpful they still can be in our society even with their disabilities.  And hopefully our chapter could be one of them.  With the support of the members and possible funding agencies, it is not an impossible program to dream of having.  More power to ASP Laguna!

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