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.

26 April 2014

Summer Camp for Teens with Autism

ASP Diliman hold their very first Summer Camp for teens with autism last 23-24 March 2014 at the Phillip’s Sanctuary in Antipolo, Rizal. Five teens, all with autism, namely Vincent Benoza, Andrei Gaban, Marcus Palomares, Frederick Segui and Thanielle Tan participated in the activity. The Summer camp was facilitated by ASP volunteers -- Cathy Genovia, Alice Alagos, JM Bartlett, Asbel Elpos and Danna Llanto -- achieving a teen-volunteer ratio of 1:1.

Summer Camp for teens with autism and family

The kids of Diliman Chapter have done previous summer activities like basketball, soccer and swimming. Previous summer camps involved hiking, living in a new place, learning new skills and gaining new friends. At this year summer camp, our CWA’s got to experience an overnight stay at the camp without any sibling or parent as companion. And also without computers and other gadgets.

Weeks before the camp, the parents prepared their kids for the camp. According to Mommy Resy, she told Vincent that he will enjoy swimming in Antipolo with his friends Macky, Iking, Budong and Thanielle, an activity that he loves to do with his friends. His response, “Vincent likes to go swimming in Antipolo on 22 March Saturday. He will bring Kitty One (his bedtime toy) and Walt Disney book (his favorite book). Vincent will go back home on Sunday, March 23. Mommy, Papa and Vania will fetch Vincent in Antipolo.” Individuals with autism are need to be prepared for prolonged changes in routine and provided coping tools and techniques.

On the first day of camp, the volunteers quickly bonded with their wards. The ‘special’ teens were excited to be with their ‘new’ friends and showed no separation anxiety. They happily waved goodbye to their parents. They did hiking, climbing bridges, swimming, singing and dancing. During mealtimes, they cleared the table after eating. Each TWA fixed his own bed, bathed himself, and folded his own clothes.

The volunteers, the new “kuyas” and “ates” prompted the TWAs in these activities and were given rewards for good behavior. Vincent proudly told his sister, “I ate white bread.” Volunteer Cathy said that they had to prompt him to eat bread (a food item that he does not eat), by rewarding him with swimming time. Marcus had to speak Tagalog throughout the camp; while Andrei was more sociable and cooperative. Thanielle, the only girl in the group did not show any tantrums her Mom was so worried about. It helped that all the participants had been to Phillip’s Sanctuary the year before when the chapter held the sibling workshop.

On the second day, a short program culminated the summer camp. The TWAs happily sang “The Greatest Love of All” led by Frederick and danced to the tune of “Gentleman” as a group, showing off to the appreciative and proud audience of parents and siblings. Their parents and siblings then join them in singing the final song, “If we hold on together” before saying their goodbyes.

It was a good respite week-end for parents of the participants at the same time; to which Mom Jo Palomares jokingly commented, “Let’s plan the next summer camp to be one week.”

This article is a contribution of Jo Palomares and Resy Benoza of ASP Diliman Chapter.


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