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.

14 February 2015

A Joint Position on PWD ID Classification

Members of the Autism Society Philippines have escalated, over the years, various concerns regarding the existing classification of disabilities used for the issuance of PWD IDs -- such as falling under multiple classifications, "shame" in declaring autism as a disability, lack of the requisite formal assessment, inability of the issuing office to confirm the disability, merchants who give PWD discounts only if the disabled person is puchasing -- not the parents, among many, many others.

With the instruction of the Department of Health (DOH), the Autism Society Philippines organized an unprecedented meeting to arrive at a common position in classifying neuro-developmental disabilities in the issuance of PWD IDs. Representatives from the Philippine Society of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics (PSDBP), ADHD Society of the Philippines, Down Syndrome Association of the Philippines (DSAPI), Occupational Therapy Association of the Philippines (OTAP), Philippine Association of Speech Pathologists (PASP) and ASP worked as partners and stakeholders intent to contributing to the proper and accurate classification of non-physical disabilities.

ASP Trustees with the other PWD organization

The group agreed to pass the following recommendations to the Department of Health (DOH) for its consideration in the classification of disabilities eligible for PWD IDs:

1. That a new classification for NEURODEVELOPMENTAL DISORDERS be created, which is congruent with medical definitions of disabilities. The current classification (learning impairment, mental impairment, speech impairment, physco-social impairment) do not accurately and appropriately categorize individuals with ADHD, autism, Down Syndrome, and others.

2. That the diagnosis for NEURODEVELOPMENTAL DISORDERS, shall be accepted only if certification comes from specialists, such as developmental pediatricians, neurologists, child psychiatrists, when such practitioner is available. Furthermore, there should be a provision for training specific medical personnel in areas where above specialists are not accessible. LGU PDAO workers or even barangay health workers are not qualified to diagnose Neurodevelopmental Disorders.

3. That, instead of putting the specific disability on the card, the general classification (i.e. Neurodevelopmental Disability) shall be stated. This helps parents or individuals from openly declaring their child’s disability and will stop establishments from withholding benefits arbitrarily based on specific disabilities.

4. That specific disabilities should still be listed in the LGU’s database in order to build a prevalence by locality. LGUs be provided with a process for reporting the statistics and for making these statistics available to stakeholders. The availability of these statistics will help grassroots advocates identify locations where services are most needed.

5. Proper orientation of agencies dispensing benefits (e.g., drug stores, restaurants) should be made so that PWDs are not denied discount privileges.

Update: The abovementioned recommendations were discussed with a DOH in hearing conducted on 27 February 2015. Dr. Marie Arranz-Lim, immediate past President of PSDBP, presented the position paper in behalf of the group.

About the contributor: Cecile Sicam is one of the 11 original founders of the Autism Society Philippines. She has served ASP in many capacities, as President from 2000 to 2004; and as its current Secretary. Inspired by her PWA son Likas, Ces has been instrumental in the founding of Professionals for Autism Foundation, Inc., Center for Autism and Related Disorders, the Philippine Association for Behavioral Analysis, and Bridges Foundation where she is currently its Directress. She taught SpEd for three years Santa Clara, California; and came back to serve Filipino children with special needs. Her adult son is employed full time as RnB Ice Plant.


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