The Inbox

Building a special place for adults with autism

Dang Koe, president ermeritus of the Autism Society of the Philippines.

By Yolanda L. Punsalan, VERA Files

Photos by Mario Ignacio

Very soon, a special place for special people will rise somewhere in Batangas.

It will be the answer to the agony of parents with children with autism: who will take care of them when we are no longer around?

The Association for Adults with Autism, Philippines (AAAP) hopes to address this concern through its flagship project "A Special Place," the country's first residential community for adults with autism, launched at Filipinas Heritage Library last Feb. 20.

Autism is a neurological disorder that stunts a person's mental, social and behavioral growth.

In her article in the Philippine Star, AAAP President Dr. Lirio Sobrevinas-Covey said  autism is a complex behavioral syndrome that first manifests during early childhood, usually between the ages of one and four years old.

Dr. Lirio Sobrevinas-CoveyCovey is a  clinical psychologist, senior research scientist and professor at Columbia University, New York. Her  33-year-old son, Mikey, has lived in the Armonk facility for Persons with Autism (PWA) in New York for the past 10 years.

Covey further wrote, "There are no reliable estimates of the worldwide prevalence of autism. What is generally recognized is that the numbers of children with autism have dramatically increased worldwide, accounted for mostly by improvements in the ability of clinicians to identify the relevant symptoms. In the United States, the prevalence of autism is estimated today at one out of every 110 children, with the ratio higher for males."

In the Philippines, Covey said recent estimates indicate that there are about 1,000,000 Filipinos who fall in the broad category of autistic spectrum disorders.

Kicking off the launching of "A Special Place" was a silent auction of art paintings in oils, pastels and computer graphics by persons with autism.

It featured art works of Andrei Macapagal, the 40-year-old firstborn of Arthur and Mariter Jalandoni-Macapagal; Matthew F. Aragon, 15-year-old son of lawyer Rosalio Aragon and wife Mimi; and Victor Francisco Cham, 20-year-old son of architects Victor G. Cham Jr. and Cathy Candelaria-Cham.

The story of Andrei MacapagalThe dream project of building a safe, nurturing place for adults with autism began to take shape through a thesis of Cham's son Carlos, who earned a degree in architecture from the University of Sto. Tomas (UST).

His thesis was on building individual homes for PWA in a campus, patterned after homes for persons with autism in New York, Europe, Canada and the Middle East.

When Carlos met Covey, his thesis got the chance to be transformed into a living reality.

Covey discussed the association's master plan, showing how the evergreen community will benefit not only its residents who are 18 years old and above, but also their families and the entire society as well.

"We will start slowly and small beginning with three homes," she said. "We are finalizing the purchase of a two-hectare lot outside Lipa City from the Maralit family."

Covey added that the search for the site that would be home to Filipino adults with autism took into consideration its "proximity to nature, not being flood-prone, and accessibility to urban amenities and hospitals."

With a P30-million budget, the residential community for adults with autism will be complete with house parents and facilities for education, work, therapy and recreation, among other things.

One of the project's supporters is award-winning broadcast journalist Karen Davila, who publicly confessed her anger and frustration when her son David was diagnosed with autism when he was 3 ½ years old.

She said she realized that was why he never called her mom, never looked at her in the eye, and why he was always screaming and rolling on the floor.

Davila recalled she at first refused to have a support group, opting to fight her battle as a special parent singlehandedly.  Aside from conducting an extensive research on autism, she provided David occupational and speech therapy, biomedication, and chelation.

She also supervised his gluten-free diet, gave him 25 supplements a day, and submitted him to the care of a Defeat Autism Now (DAN) doctor.

She was rewarded with a hearty applause when she announced that David, who is now 10 years old and goes to a regular school, just won third place in a spelling bee contest.

Also pledging support for the project was the board of the Enviro team, American homebuilders, led by Glenn Camp whose son has autism.  He was accompanied by Ron Sims, who was introduced as a friend of President Barack Obama.

Overseas support groups and Filipinos abroad who are also dealing with autism in their families will also be tapped.  (Those who wish to support "A Special Place" can visit the AAAP website http://adultautismphil.wordpress.com.)

President emeritus of the Autism Society Philippines Dang Koe appealed to Filipinos to help make this dream of building a special place for adults with autism come true.

(VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for "true.")

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • US ambassador recovers from knife attack praised by N. Korea
    US ambassador recovers from knife attack praised by N. Korea

    The US ambassador to South Korea, Mark Lippert, was recovering from surgery Thursday after having his face and arm slashed by a knife-wielding activist in an attack applauded by North Korean state media. The United States condemned the "act of violence" which saw the ambassador rushed to hospital where his condition was described as stable after two-and-a-half hours of surgery that included 80 stitches to a deep gash on his right cheek. During the assault, Kim screamed a slogan in favour of …

  • Sy moves up, Villar enters Forbes list of billionaires
    Sy moves up, Villar enters Forbes list of billionaires

    Eleven Filipinos are included in Forbes’ 2015 list of richest people in the world. Filipino-Chinese tycoon Henry Sy Sr. continues to be the wealthiest man in the Philippines. The 90-year-old SM supermalls, banking and property tycoon ranked 73rd among the world’s richest with an increased net worth of $14.2 billion from $11.4 billion last year. Sy’s net worth was attributed to the continued growth of his SM Investments Corp. and his more recent venture, the City of Dreams Manila resort and …

  • New Moro rebel group emerges
    New Moro rebel group emerges

    A radical Muslim cleric trained in the Middle East and considered one of the leaders of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) has broken away from the terror group to form his own band of jihadists who are now reportedly providing sanctuary to bomb expert Basit Usman and at least five foreign militants, the military said yesterday. Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Col. Restituto Padilla, citing reports from the field, said the Justice for Islamic Movement (JIM) was …

  • US billionaire says WWII Japanese ship found in Philippines
    US billionaire says WWII Japanese ship found in Philippines

    Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen said Wednesday he had found one of Japan's biggest and most famous battleships on a Philippine seabed, some 70 years after American forces sank it during World War II. Excited historians likened the discovery, if verified, to finding the Titanic, as they hailed the American billionaire for his high-tech mission that apparently succeeded after so many failed search attempts by others. Allen posted photos and video online of parts of what he said was the …

  • World's oldest person wonders about secret to longevity too
    World's oldest person wonders about secret to longevity too

    TOKYO (AP) — The world's oldest person says 117 years doesn't seem like such a long time. …

  • Billionaire finds wreck of WWII ship in Phl
    Billionaire finds wreck of WWII ship in Phl

    Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen says he has found the Japanese Navy’s biggest warship at the bottom of the sea in the Philippines, 70 years after US forces sank it. Allen posted a photo on Twitter on Tuesday of the World War II battleship Musashi’s rusty bow, which bore the Japanese empire’s Chrysanthemum seal. The American billionaire, who has also pursued space exploration, said his luxury yacht and exploration ship, the M/Y Octopus, found the Musashi one kilometer (1.6 miles) deep on the …

  • Australian drug smugglers being taken to Indonesian island for execution - media
    Australian drug smugglers being taken to Indonesian island for execution - media

    By Jane Wardell and Beawiharta SYDNEY/DENPASAR, Indonesia (Reuters) - Two convicted Australian drug smugglers were removed from a prison in Bali on Wednesday to be taken to an Indonesian island where they will be shot by firing squad, Australian media reported. The planned executions of Myuran Sukumaran, 33, and Andrew Chan, 31, have ratcheted up diplomatic tensions amid repeated pleas of mercy for the pair from Australia and thrown a spotlight on Indonesia's increasing use of the death …

  • Ohio mom, boyfriend guilty; child emailed teacher for help

    PORTSMOUTH, Ohio (AP) — A woman and her boyfriend pleaded guilty to raping her young children and were sentenced to prison on Wednesday, a year after one of her daughters emailed a teacher for help and said she and her siblings were being chained to their beds, deprived of food and sexually assaulted. …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options