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.

30 March 2015

AuTama -- a night of friends, food, fun

Socialization has never been easy for many adults on the spectrum. Scholarly readings tell us that autism-related differences in the wiring of the brain can make socializing difficult because of many challenges -- sensory issues, social cognition, among others. But for one night of the National Autism Consciousness Week, we decided to brave our fears and usher in a night of youthful fun.

"AuTama! Trivia Night" is the brainchild of ASP President Mona Magno-Veluz. "Adults with autism are bright and full of knowledge no one would ever expect. A trivia night -- similar to the ones set in bars -- would be a perfect way to socialize and to show off their strengths." For the event to be one that will encourage personal growth for the participants, it was important to have a venue that did not feel like school (many have spent far too many years in a school environment) and to work with partners outside the ASP family (we need to breach their comfort zone).

President Mona tapped the muscle of the ASP Angel Volunteer Corps and friends from the autism advocacy community -- Association for Adults with Autism (Cathy Cham) and Best Buddies (Anj Onrubia) -- who were eager organizers and players. MIESCOR gamely jumped in to donate the prizes. Miriam College students from the College of Education -- led by Prof. Susan Morillo -- were in charge of the trivia questions. Miriam College PR students, meanwhile, took the lead on handling the registration, physical arrangements and prizes. Playing teams of 4 members each were put together by combining neuro-typicals and adults with autism.


On 30 January 2015, Puzzle Cafe, the first autism advocacy cafe in the country, played host to an eager bunch of young people. Jose Canoy, who was the inspiration for the restaurant, kicked off the event with a prayer. Ice breakers and the game quickly followed. Selfies, group photos, laughter, playing, dancing, singing, crashing (yes, we broke furniture), winning -- such was the richness of the evening's experience. Iced tea, kamote fries, sandwiches, finger food and ice cream overflowed -- tummies were happy! Parents and guests (such as NCDA's Mr. Zaldy Sanchez) were supposed to have left the room to observe the party from the al fresco dining area -- but it did not seem possible to pry their eyes from watching these typically aloof PWAs having so much fun!

By the end of the evening, many lingered -- groups were still in animated conversations with their newfound friends.  Here's to more fun, socialization events for the growing number of adults on the spectrum!

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