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.

01 August 2018

Achieving holistic health for families living with autism

All families deserve a positive life experience and best quality of life possible. However this may not come easy for a family member of a PWA. Family members have their own struggles - physical, mental, spiritual, emotional that may sometimes have to take a backseat in order to care for PWAs. Relational conflicts, chronic illnesses, mental health concerns may arise in such circumstances.

A family physician’s primary role is to take care of the family as a unit and manage accordingly in the context of systems thinking. This entails providing patient centered care for persons with autism (PWA), family focused care to family members and assist in providing community oriented care.

Family physicians as primary care providers care for persons in all age groups. Thus all family members should receive primary health care services, preventive, promotive, curative, rehabilitative and palliative care. This also includes identifying psychosocial issues and providing counseling services. A family physician will help the family coordinate with other specialties, establish community resources and inter-professional and collaborative care.

The Family Health Unit (FHU) of the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the out- patient building of Philippine General Hospital offers patient centered family focused community oriented care for families. In particular, for PWA families, the Families with Developmental Disabilities (FDD) service provide care with emphasis on screening for caregiver strain for family members, family wellness plan, chronic care, issues on education, future care and employment provisions and relationships for PWAs that are not usually discussed on routine consults as well as appropriate referrals to other specialties whenever warranted.

Other services provided by the FHU include care for elderly (geriatric) patients, care for patients with emotional and psychosocial issues, weight management problems, chronic care, osteoarthritis multidisciplinary care, substance use and family screening on communication and relational problems among others.

Last May 2018, the FHU in coordination with ASP UP CAMP Manila, Sta. Cruz and Pasay chapters set up an ASP day. PWAs and families who are ASP members are accommodated for screening every Tuesdays at FHU. DFCM residents provide primary care and other services to families with PWAs. This milestone program is an advocacy of the DFCM to provide a family physician to families with PWAs. This partnership with ASP is envisioned to expand to other local chapters of the ASP in the Philippines.

About the contributors. Dr. Kashmir Mae Engada is the Third year resident physician. She is the UP PGH Department of Family and Community Medicine (DFCM). Dr. Anna Guia O. Limpoco is the Family Health Unit consultant. She is also the UP PGH Department of Family and Community Medicine (DFCM).

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