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.

08 April 2013

Angels making home runs




By: Dang U. Koe, ASP Chair Emeritus

“The most widely used behavioral intervention programs focus on developing communication, social, and cognitive skills. However, new research and anecdotal evidence suggest that some alternative therapeutic choices that include sports, exercise, and other physical activities can be a useful adjunct to traditional behavioral interventions, leading to improvement in symptoms, behaviors, and quality of life for individuals with autism.” (source: Autism Speaks’ Chief Science Officer Geraldine Dawson, Ph.D., and 
 Assistant Director of Research and Public Health Michael Rosanoff)

Teacher Landa Bautista, Executive Director of The Learning Center, Inc. is our angel talker this week. She reports about the new addition to TLC’s Community Living Program for its students with autism and other special needs – softball. The game is a variation of baseball played on a smaller diamond with a larger, softer ball that is pitched underhand.

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The main goal of TLC’s Softball Clinic is to help special needs children achieve more through sports. It aims to teach important values such as honesty, sportsmanship, loyalty, good camaraderie, and teamwork through softball. The school sought partners to achieve these goals and found the Consulate General of the Republic of San Marino and the Amateur Softball Association of the Philippines (ASAPHIL). The Consul-General of San Marino, Jean Henri Lhuillier, is very partial to children and their potentials; he supports activities and programs that benefit the wellness and future of children.

Together, the three partner organizations conducted a free four-day softball clinic for all TLC students with autism and other developmental conditions. There were two separate age groups: 19 children participated in the Kids Division and 24 adults joined the Adult Division.

With the help of Operations Manager Jun Veloso, and headed by coach-facilitators Nina Buenaventura, Virgilio Cruz, and Nina Serafico, ASAPHIL prepared and implemented basic softball drills for their special needs players.

“All the coaches were patient,” said Melanie Nucom, mother of Kurt, “they were very warm towards the students.” The coaches started by introducing the basic equipment and materials used in playing softball such as the ball, baseball/softball bat, glove, base, and home plate. They also brought a T-ball batting tee to help start the students at the most basic playing level. The clinic then covered stretching and warm up exercises, basic catching and throwing drills, basic fielding drills, basic batting drills, base running, and lead up games.

During the first part of the clinic, the coaches and teachers assisted the students with moderate to maximal prompting. As the activity progressed however, several students completed drills on their own, often needing only minimal assistance and prompting. “We were happy to see the response of the students. It’s wonderful to see them follow instructions during the activity,” noted the mother of JR, Gilda Salting.

Basic catching and throwing drills helped improve the students’ communications skills, attention span, and eye-hand coordination. Students with hyperactive tendencies enjoyed running during ball-retrieval exercises and during throw-and-run exercises at the modified softball diamond. As 25-year old Ferdinicco simply put it, “I like running after the ball.” On the other hand, students with gross and fine motor concerns enjoyed hitting the balls. Everyone took turns at hitting, throwing, catching, and pitching, which developed their waiting skills, attention span, and social skills. “Masaya! Marunong na akong pumalo ng bola!” said a proud Regie, 14 years old.

The activity was definitely a different, thrilling, unforgettable learning experience for the students, parents, and teachers! The students anticipated the event with much excitement, some even requesting their parents for their own caps and bats. To the parents and teachers’ amazement, the students gamely participated and enjoyed all the drills. Teacher Melen Nofrada thinks that the program was very good “because it was adapted to the skills of the students and allowed them to really have fun.” Needless to say, everyone simply reveled in everyone else’s cheers. Indeed, softball unlocked so many of the students’ potentials.

At the end of the softball clinic, a satisfied Consul General Lhuillier announced that the Consulate plans to take the first experience to a higher level by conducting a series of sports clinic for special children nationwide. In closing, he said “The experiences we shared with the students, parents, guardians and teachers will forever be in our hearts.” The same is true, if not truer, for the TLC families and teachers who participated. Now that the world of softball has been opened for these students, watch out for their homeruns!

Autism Society Philippines monthly family support group meeting for April 20 will be facilitated by Board Trustee and Past President Grace Adviento.  This is open to ASP members and non-members for free.  Follow ASP on its award-winning blogspot, Facebook and Twitter.

This article appeared in print and online by Manila Bulletin on 08 April 2013.


1 comments:

James William said...

Nice post

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