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.

25 March 2014

Running for a cause

This article appeared on 24 March 2014 in the print and on-line versions of Manila Bulletin's "Angels Talk," edited by Dang U. Koe, ASP Chair Emeritus.

A marathon is a long-distance road race that was instituted in commemoration of the fabled run of a Greek messenger from the Battle of Marathon to Athens. Hundreds of marathons are held throughout the world each year, with the vast majority of competitors being recreational athletes -- all running an official distance of 42.195 kilometres or 26 miles and 385 yards.

“This is a marathon, not a sprint” is a figure of speech often used when a task requires endurance, consistency and fortitude. And for many autism families, this is a perfect metaphor for our outlook in life, in caring for our loved one with autism.

Jah Santander is a devoted wife and full-time mom to Keira, Moira, Tiara and Zachary. When she and her husband Butch decided to run their first marathon, she asked her friends to help keep her inspired, as she ran the challenging race. Friends pledged to donate to the Autism Society Philippines in the event she finished the 42 kilometers -- and this kept Jah focused on her goals. By the end of the race, Jah had raised more than P22,000 -- proof that we all have the power to advocate and to make the world a better place, one step at a time.

Get to know Jah, a first-time marathoner and a mighty mom, as she chats it up with Autism Society Philippines’ Mona Veluz, herself a @mightymagulang.

Jah (leftmost) shares a precious moment with her husband and children.

On her first “Mary.” “I only started running last year. It was my husband who got me into this. I started training for the marathon last September by joining The Bull Runner Dream Marathon where they give us a program to follow, slowing building up our mileage until our big day in February where we'll all did the full marathon. I came up with this idea to run for a cause to make my 42 kilometers more meaningful and worth it. It was more of a wild idea, just a passing thought really. When I got in touch with ASP, my friends and relatives who were supportive of the idea, I just knew I had to make this happen.”

Our her autism journey. “Because of a suspected speech delay, I brought my second child Moira to a developmental pediatrician. She was found to have Global Development Delay at 18 months, which suggested autism. Since then, we've tried all sorts of intervention -- occupational therapy, brain gym, speech therapy, Montessori, SPED school and now a regular classroom set up (with just around 5-6 students). We've also tried biomedical intervention -- the gluten,- casein- and sugar-free diets and supplements. What has really worked for her was ABA which she had three times a week at two hours per session. Right now, her shadow teacher is already in the process of being pulled out and I take charge of the ABA and tutoring at home.”

Jah’s special cause: “My reason for choosing ASP as the foundation to run for is simple. It's because I know how difficult it is, financially, to have someone in the family who is autistic. Therapies, special teachers take up a big chunk of the household budget. It also takes a great deal of patience dealing with them at times. I know that ASP helps people in the same boat cope, through the support system. With you guys around, people know who to turn to when they need people who can understand our unique situation.”


Being an advocate need not be a ”big production number.” It is all about finding a cause that is close to your heart and taking an earnest effort to help out. If you want to get involved in the Autism Society Philippines work to build a society where Filipinos with autism become the best of their potentials -- independent, self-reliant, productive and socially-accepted members of the community, visit


ASP Las Piñas Chapter invites the public to a free seminar on “Understanding Autism and Children with Special Needs” on April 5, 8 a.m.-12 noon at Our Lady of Pilar Montessori Center, Silver Road, Pilas Village in Las Piñas City. Resource speaker is former ASP National trustee Evert Malapad. Limited slots only! For registration, email Follow Autism Society Philippines on Facebook.


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