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.

12 July 2013

Opening doors to collegiate life

As early as last year, Mrs. Brenda Aihara has been searching for the school suitable for her daugter, Erina, who just graduated from high school. Erina passed her college entrance exams with flying colors in some prestigious universities in Metro Manila, even landing at top 12 in the overall ranking. However, being a person with autism, she has difficulty integrating herself to new environments. She has yet to master social skills, in spite of years of intensive therapy. In her search, Mrs. Aihara learned that Olivarez College is offering a new course in Library Science -- perfect for Erina who enjoys the solitude of reading.

To prepare Erina, a special therapy program was designed for her during summer to gradually psyche her up for college life. She was taught how to commute from her house to Olivarez College even if her mother regularly drives her to school, social stories of what to expect in school was retold to her several times and an actual familiarization tour of her classrooms were done to orient her of her routine before the school opened for classes.

Mrs. Aihara also took an extra effort to make Erina's college life more meaningful by launching an autism awareness campaign in partnership with Autism Society Metro South Chapter of which she is a member, and Olivarez College headed by Dr. Elaine Grace Bognot, the school's physician.

(L-R) Ms. Charisma Leona Evangelio, Mrs. Teresita Abuan (Head, College of Education),
Dr. Elmer de Leon (AVP, Academics and Services), Mrs. Brenda Aihara, Mr. Hiro Aihara,
Mrs. Gina Bermudo, Mrs. Ditas Granada and Mrs. Imee Alviso

Last July 4, the Olivarez College auditorium was full of students, teachers, nuns and medical professionals eager to learn about autism. The Autism Society Metro South Chapter headed by Mrs. Imee Alviso and Mrs. Ditas Granada were present to show their support. Mrs. Gina Bermudo, ASP Board of Trustee, was invited to be the resource speaker. As always, Mrs. Bermudo gave a very powerful presentation where she conducted the seminar with much energy and credibility. After the very informative seminar, an immediate second seminar was requested to which Mrs. Bermudo graciously agreed. She warmly touched the audience's hearts by telling actual stories of how persons with autism and their families are coping up with the challenges of living with autism. Emotions overflowed at the conference room. As a result, the attendees promised to spread the message of autism acceptance and inclusion, individually and collectively.

Such was the beginning of autism awareness in one school -- inspired by a special child, Erina Aihara. By opening their doors to an individual with autism, the school also opened the minds of the students and the teachers to respect, compassion and understanding of individuals on the spectrum.


benjie1976 said...

indeed, give her a chance to shine and she can be perhaps the next generation star in the future - Benjamin Joseph T. Bugarin

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