The Autism Society Philippines hosted a back to back seminar on “The Miller Method Autism Intervention Program: Possibilities Put Into Practice” and “All You Need To Know About Autism” last 2 August 2014 at the Auditorium of Philippine Information Agency, Visayas Avenue, Quezon City, attended by 53 participants composed of parents and professionals. The whole day event which featured two distinguished speakers.
The morning session on the Miller Method Autism Intervention Program was facilitated by Dr. Sonia Mastrangelo, an Assistant Professor from Lake University Orillia in Ontario, Canada. Dr. Mastrangelo emphasized that there is no single method of intervention for persons with autism. Dr. Mastrangelo utilized videos to explain the approach -- one of Dr. Arnold Miller applying the method to a child with autism was among them. She also had some interactive activities for the participants -- a movement exercise which simulated how a child with autism spectrum disorder perceived things. The exercise made participants feel how persons with autism may experience their environment; and simulating internal blocks which keep them from doing an action. Learning by experience and gross motor activities such as lifting and spinning are important parts of this approach. Dr. Mastrangelo the use of an Elevated Square, an elevated platform on which the therapy is conducted. Another key feature of the Miller method was having the parents be constantly involved. Dr. Mastrangelo mentioned that the parents are the first teachers of children. She said that a multidisciplinary team is important for the development of the child and in this team, the role of the family is very important. She recognized that therapists may come and go; but the family remains constant in the lives of children with autism.
Dr. Rita Grace R. Villadolid, a respected developmental pediatrician, discussed the history of autism, the development stages of typical children, the proper diagnostic process, and treatment programs. She mentioned that there is still no significant cause identified for autism, with genetic or environmental causes still inconclusive. Dr. Villadolid highlighted the main challenges that persons with autism experience which are in social interaction, communication, and restricted and repetitive behavior. She shared early signs of autism in infants and that these development concerns usually come at 14 to 15 months after the birth of the child. She clarified some notions regarding autism, updating the audience on the official terms that are being used today by professionals. She also shared information regarding the population of persons of autism which was rising in number. Dr. Villadolid discussed different interventions -- medical, non-medical, or complimentary methods. Dr. Villadolid highlighted the significant role of an "A"-team -- doctors, therapists, teachers, family, and other important people who were part of the development of the child with autism.
Participants shared their thoughts about the seminar.
"We learned so much. The seminar has good value for money."
"There should be more of this type of seminar from Dr. Mastrangelo and about Miller Method."
"The Miller Method is an interesting topic -- how you communicate with a child with autism, their expressive language and problem solving. There's a lot of teaching strategies we approach with our students and this is very hopeful."
"Keep up the good work. Congratulations! For bringing the awareness to us as parents looking forward on your next seminar."
"The speaker was very knowledgeable about the topic."
"Very educational and enriching."