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.

23 May 2014

ASP UP CAMP Manila deepens SM San Lazaro partnership

This article is the contribution of Elizabeth Udquin, ASP National Trustee , highlighting her experiences and the long history of partnership between the organization and SM Malls. SM Malls via its flagship SM Cares program is committed to conducting regular sensitivity training for mall frontliners nationwide.

It was my third time to give orientation at SM City San Lazaro. The first time was back in February 2013. Among the speakers who joined me were Mike Limon from National Council on Disability Affairs who gave an orientation on different disability and the proper calling, or should I say, politically correct term of particular disability. For example, “mongoloid” is an outdated, derogatory term for a person with Down Syndrome. The sector prefers medically descriptive terms such “blind” (not visually impaired), “deaf” (not hearing impaired), “pilay” (not wheelchair-bound or orthopedically impaired) or "autistic" -- and NEVER in a context that is insulting or patronizing. The person-first convention may also be used (e.g. person with hearing impairment, person with autism). He also tackled the PWD discount -- who are entitled, when, where -- and how to manage priority lanes for senior citizens and PWDs. Architect Jaime Silva gave his talk on how to assist person with visual impairment.


In my second invitation which was held in November 2013, we are all again present as speakers but with different batch of participants, composed of frontliners, security guards and tenants. Though there are some refreshers, they still appreciate the new approach for each topic. Understanding about disabilities should be a continuous and evolving journey.

The third time was held on 27 March 2014. A senior citizen from OSCA Manila City Hall emphasized that handling senior citizens is similar to handling persons with disabilities because of the decrease physical capabilities of our elders. It is our responsibility to help them through routines like maneuvering through a mall.

Just like the participants in all of these talks, I learned a lot from my fellows in the advocacy community too.

During my lecture, the audience wondered how people with autism can be considered persons with disabilities when they have full use of their bodies and senses. Other thought that autism is an intellectual disability. I presented how autism is a neurological disorder and shared the 14 signs and symptoms of autism. At the end of the talk, they began to realize the challenges a parent/caregiver goes through and empathizes with them.

SM San Lazaro Manila welcomes one million people in foot traffic per day. The mall is in the vicinity of more or less five public school with SpEd program and it is more than likely that the mall hosts children with autism on a daily basis. Thanks to the commitment of SM, my fellow parents can be assured that the mall is not only compassionate to the needs of our special children; but trained in providing services for our special families.


About the author. Elizabeth B. Udquin is a graduate of Clinical Psychology at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines. She is mother to two children on the spectrum, Cholo and Tristan. Stories on Elizabeth and her family have appeared on Manila Bulletin and UNTV Channel 37. She has inspired others with her experience as a parent in various autism awareness talks and seminars. Mom Beth is also the President of ASP UP-CAMP Manila Chapter.

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