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.

03 August 2018

Opening doors

This article first appears in "Out of Office" - an employee publication of Willis Towers Watson, a leading global multinational risk management, insurance brokerage and advisory company with Philippine offices in Taguig -- in an issue which celebrated inclusion and diversity. Willis Towers Watson is a partner of the Autism Society Philippines in its Autism Works program, which aims to match adults with autism with opportunities for wage- and self-employment.

Social interaction and communication are basic to living a satisfactory life in today's society, and the lack there of might bring harships and challenges. It is not rocket science, but we know that there are actual people who have difficulties with these traits; people with autism (PWA).

ASD or Autism Spectrum Disorder is a lifelong developmental exceptionality, which may challenge an individual's ability to communicate, socialize and adapt to the world around him. This idea of people with ASD hinders them from opportunities to grow and develop the things that they are good at. Willis Towers Watson is challenging the stigma by creating an inclusive environment for this talented group of individuals by expanding its scope which includes persons with autism.

Wearing a big smile on his face, Ryan recalls how he celebrated his first birthday as an associate here at Willis Towers Watson. He happily relays how his mother cooked and made him bring the food to the office as a treat to his teammates, and how he was surprised that the team gave him a birthday cake and offered him their well wishes. Ryan Cris Lucero, PWA, was hired few months ago through an initiative of WTW’s Inclusion and Diversity commitment.

Ryan was diagnosed with autism when he was two years old but his speech and occupational therapy started a year later. Growing up, Ryan admits that it was hard for him. Since he has some difficulties in communicating and conveying his thoughts, he was bullied back in high school. For Ryan, all these hardships he encountered makes him proud of himself because he endured it, stayed strong and just kept going.

He finished his studies in 2013 and had one part time job before joining WTW. Getting hired was difficult as he could not get through the interviews. But hope seeped in when Mona Magno Veluz, president of the Autism Society Philippines, informed him that WTW is looking for talents like him. He made it past the interview and even made it through the challenging skills test. Now, he is happily celebrating his first month with the company together with his newly found friends.

Ryan clarified that persons with autism are just like normal individuals who need friends, work and a typical lifestyle. For us to better understand him, he told us that there are three ways that we could use as guidance – acceptance, accommodation and appreciation.

First, we must learn to accept and welcome someone diagnosed with autism. Second, we need to accommodate them by teaching, training and helping them. After all, communication is a two way street – we should also be meeting them halfway. And lastly, showing that we are proud of them even with their small achievements would go a long way.

This is how opening doors for people like Ryan looks like. It creates a society where someone’s lack is filled by someone’s empathy, thus nourishing a culture of sharing and understanding. The good thing about it is, that door can remain open so it could impact more lives, positively.


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