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.

18 February 2013

Preparing Persons with Autism, their Families and Caregivers for Disaster

by Cora Hugo-Mina, ASP Angel Corps Volunteer

The Autism Society of the Philippines in cooperation with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and SM Malls held a very informative forum on Preparing Persons with Autism, their Families and Caregivers for Disaster last 25 January 2013 at the Sky Dome of SM City North Edsa in Quezon City. The event was attended of more than 300 stakeholders from DSWD, Civil Defense Action Group, Autism Hearts of the Philippines, SM City personnel, special schools in different cities, private families, and individuals who were all yearning to hear and learn on how to be prepared in time of disasters.

The ever-energetic host Mike Limon hosted the full-packed activity as a group of resource speakers made an impact to each individual present. The opening program was led by DSWD representative Fredelyn Alcancia and Rebecca Ballesteros. The SM City Mall Manager Hershe Angeles welcomed the participants with uplifting remarks of having and sharing the same advocacy. She reiterated that SM will continue to support activities like this to elevate the lives of PWAs.

Undersecretary Parisya H. Taradji, Operations and Programs Group of DSWD, who just flew in from an out-of-town business engagement, did not miss out this opportunity to meet and be one to spread the steps to guarantee awareness and responsibility in facing a disaster to all the audience - PWA, their families and caregivers. She wanted to raise the level of consciousness in being ready and prepared in different disasters that our country may have to face. She also invited everyone to put an end in using the word “autistic” to malign individuals on the spectrum.

A video entitled “No Strings” was shown which was very much liked by the younger audience present as it was easy to understand. It was a 3D anime that helped them understand what to prepare and be ready before destruction or disaster strikes. After which, it was backed up by a talk and reminders from Dir. Restituto B. Macuto Disaster Risk Reduction and Response Operations Office of DSWD. He identified the kinds of disasters by showing the framework of Risk Management. He gave orientation on what to do before, during and after a disaster strikes. He suggested that a family with PWA should plan and prepare survival kit that will include medicines, food, and water that may last at least for three days. The family should prioritize to include the medicines and needs of a PWA for that matter. He encouraged everyone to attend – especially the family members – their DRROO trainings and drills which they cater on a regular basis.

The former Undersecretary of DSWD, and now Autism Hearts Philippines, Executive Director Celia C. Yangco tackled a topic entitled: “Autism and Disaster: Understanding Persons with Autism and Preparing Them and Their Families for Disaster". She encouraged parents and caregivers to register PWA's with their baranggays, so that when there is a need to evacuate and be rescued, the community will know that there is someone who needs extra care. She also suggested that those who have difficulty in the language should be given a bracelet where all the basic information (i.e. name of the PWA, contact persons, phone numbers, medicines to take, and other important details) is on it. In the event that a PWA got separated, the rescuers will be able to determine his or her condition and needs.

Typhoon Ondoy taught Mr. Alex Cabason, a parent of PWA, valuable lessons. With all the reminders and planning on how to face such disaster, he said that the best advise he could share is to evacuate his family even before a warning is given. Mr. Mark Anthony Padil, an autism advocate and an ABA Therapist/Teacher provided lessons on how to deal with earthquakes. He said that drop, cover and hold is a strategy meant to be taught to PWA through practice. He even encouraged everyone to have their own whistle as it may save a life during disasters. Both speakers focused their sharing on collaboration. Both agreed that collaboration is the key to save a life of your own and of a PWA.

Col. Gerry H. Ilagan, Head MM Emergency Volunteer Corps summarized the mornings discussion in an animated and engaging presentation; while National Director Johnny Yu of Civil Defense Action Group shared the Metro Manila Emergency/Disaster Preparedness Plan.

It is the aspiration of these passionate advocates to better equip PWAs, their families and caregivers for disasters.


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