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.

22 October 2013

Top reasons for attending the National Autism Conference

By Dang Koe
October 21, 2013
There are five reasons why I should attend the National Autism Conference on October 26 and 27 and help make a difference not only for my son and my family but also for others.

First of all, I should attend the confab because I am a parent. I have a son whose life is full of mystery and challenges. I have two other children and relatives who also need support in living with a family member who has autism.

As parents, we should not stop learning about breakthroughs in medicine, new laws, emerging trends in behavior management and other things that would make our sons or daughters become better persons. In Davao City where I work and reside, not all families have the luxury of time or money to go to Manila. Hence, attending this conference would give me an opportunity to share information and give advice to other families as well.

I am sure that parents will benefit from the discussion on “Autism Redefined: The Implications of Redefinition of ASD in DSM5 on Diagnosis and Prevalence” by Dr. Alexis Reyes, one of the top developmental pediatricians in the Philippines. There is also a talk on “Medical Issues and Morbidities in Adult ASD” by Dr. Cornelio G. Banaag, Jr., chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at The Medical City. Another very interesting topic is “The Truth about Stem Cell Therapy and Autism” by Dr. Antonio Dans, a professor and health advocate. I do hope his talk will give light to parents who are contemplating on trying this procedure on their child. Another important and practical topic is on “The Dental for a Person with Autism” by the executive director of the Pediatric Dentistry Center Philippines, Dr. Manuel V. Vallesteros, DMD.

Secondly, I should attend the autism conference because I am an educator. I am always a firm believer that one can learn a thing or two from resource speakers and from teacher-participants. By empowering myself with information, I hope I can share and update other teachers in Davao City on best practices in special education and keep their flames of commitment burning with compassion for students with special needs. The ASP lined up interesting topics for teachers. “Dance Therapy” will be discussed by Ana Rivera who has a diploma course in Special Education, a master’s degree in Speech Language Pathology and has had training in dance therapy in Wichita, Kansas. I am also curious about “Yoga for Sensory Integration” by Anna Escay-Cortez, a family and community yoga teacher certified by Kidz Yoga-Australia and Rainbow Kids Yoga. Vicente Rubio, diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, will talk on “Building Successful Life Skills Strategies for Young People on the Autism Spectrum.” Rubio, director of Pathfinder Mentoring, currently designs and teaches alternative PE classes for students with autism and other social, behavioral, and academic challenges in public and private schools.

My third reason for attending the conference is because I am a columnist and writer for persons with autism. It is my personal responsibility to equip myself with facts and useful information from experts and professionals to be able to write reliable articles about autism. I hope I will be able to contribute in increasing the level of awareness and acceptance of individuals with autism, in my own simple way, by sharing knowledge gained from the conference. I am confident that the topic on “Autism in Media” will help me appreciate more my role as a SunStar Davao columnist. Prominent personalities who will join panel discussions include Karen Davila, an award-winning Filipino broadcast journalist and mother of a child on the spectrum; Atty. Anna Teresa Gozon-Abrogar, president of GMA Films; and journalist Ivy Lisa Mendoza.

The fourth reason why I always find the Philippine National Autism Conference worth attending is because I am a member of the Autism Society Philippines. It is a good experience to mingle with and learn from other parents who are ASP members, through an exchange of stories on parenting and teaching children with autism. It is also a way of getting recharged when you are aware that there is an ASP family whose members give genuine support and understanding to one another. I look forward to listening to parent-panelists on “How Families of Adults with Autism are Preparing for the Future” and self-advocates on “Challenges Adults with Autism Face in the Philippine Society.”

Last but not the least, I should attend the autism conference because I am an advocate of persons with autism and their families. Like other parents, I may have landed on this advocacy because of my son, but there are countless Filipino individuals affected with autism who need other people’s voices to express their needs and aspirations. By attending the confab, I affirm this commitment to actively involve the community in providing an inclusive environment for persons with autism. Two other parents living with autism will surely inspire me. They are Amor Maclang, founding director of GeiserMaclang Marketing Communications, Inc. who will talk on “Turning Families with Autism to Advocates,” and Ormoc City’s former mayor Engr. Eric Codilla on “Local Government – Bridging the Gap for PWA Inclusion.” Based on their actual experiences, Prof. Apollo Abelardo I. David, Jr., founder of Independent Living Learning Centre will moderate on “Employment and Livelihood for Adults on the Spectrum,” while Unilab Foundation’s senior vice president Rhodora Fresnedi will talk about “Advocating Inclusive Employment.”

I feel that my attendance in the 13th Philippine National Autism Conference will just be a thin, shining ray of this Hope for “A” Nation (theme for this year). But I pray that it can radiate a special glow and warm the hearts of people who live, love and care for individuals with autism.




(The angel talker/writer is Jane Anne S. Gonzales, a SunStar Davao columnist, the school director of Independent Living and Learning Center – Davao, a staunch autism advocate, and most of all, the mother of 22-year old Jan who has autism. For more details about the conference, visit http://bit.ly/philnac2013.)

This article appeared in print and online versions of the Manila Bulletin on 21 October 2013, under the by-line of Dang U. Koe, ASP Chair Emeritus.

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