The 2010 elections is just around the corner and as early as now we see a lot of campaign ads from the aspirants. This is an appeal to all who aspire to be the next president of the Philippines. I wish you include in your platform Autism Welfare for the benefit of those inflicted with the Autism Syndrome Disorder and those related diseases like Asperger Syndrome and their family. Please help fill the G.A.P. (Good Autism Practice).
Alarmingly it is not an epidemic but the numbers have been growing fast from 1 out of 150 child diagnosed with autism in 2005 the latest from the U.S. research found that there are 1 out of 68 children afflicted with autism in 2008 . That number is the diagnosed ones, but how about those who are not diagnosed, we might be surprised with the number. It is an alarming rate!
Here in the Philippines, there are not much government support when it comes to Autism Welfare. The special education class in public schools (SPED) caters to all types of special child and that includes Down syndrome, Epilepsy, MR, Cerebral Palsy and the like. Children with autism (CWA) are forced to join this classes, only those who can afford can place their CWA at the right school setting and get the right education. We all have the right for education don’t we?
CWA have more potential than those with more crippling disorder, in fact with proper education and intervention, they can develop normally or even better. Ergo the special child/gifted child terminology.
Autism has many forms and shapes not all are the same. There are those who are high-functioning and can be independent and you can’t barely notice that they were CWA’s. Usually they are the ones called to have the Asperger Syndrome (AS). But there are those low-functioning and non-verbal ones they are the ones who need protection and care.
Whatever spectrum a CWA is they and even their carers need a place for them to feel safe and at least be productive members of the society when they become adults. All CWA’s will become adults later on and that is the main goal to help them survive as an adult.
Research all over the world found that Autism is curable with the right education, treatment and support from everyone. There are parents who can attest to the miracle of proper education and treatment brought their child. During the Good Autism Practice conference here in Manila last January, these kids now adolescents are taking up their masters in Mathematics and Psychology.
What Causes Autism?
You will hear many theories about what causes autism. To date, no one has found the exact cause of autism. Latest statistic show that 1 out of 68 child is inflicted with Autism and that is an alarming rate.
In the early 1950’s-1970’s it was thought that the mothers of children with autism were neglecting and not loving their children which in turn caused them to regress into a world of their own. These mothers were labeled “Refrigerator Mothers.” Thanks to Dr. Bernard Rimland, we’ve come a long way since then.
It’s important to do your own research into the various causes that are being investigated. We believe that families should have access to all information including environmental insults, vaccines, genetics, etc.
Please visit our this research library for a list of relevant scientific studies from the U.S.
Autism and Genetics:
There are many in the scientific community who believe that there is a strong genetic component or pre-disposition to autism spectrum disorders.
It’s important to note that in the past 10 years of looking for the “autism gene,” none has been found which leads many researchers to believe that something had to TRIGGER the gene to turn on and cause autism.
According to officials at the National Institutes of Health, while there is most likely a genetic predisposition, there must also be an environmental component to autism. The rapid rise in the rate of autism over the last 15 years cannot be attributed solely to genetics.
Autism is no longer considered a heritable, genetic disorder. It is an environmentally triggered, therefore preventable and treatable disease. Environmental research holds the key to finding the cause and developing effective treatments for those affected.
Autism Situation in the Philippines
The demand is more than the supply. We don’t have enough Neurologist, Physical Therapist, Occupational Therapist, Speech Therapist, Neurodevelopmental Pysician, Special Education Teachers, special education centers and assessment centers to cater to those in need. Based on my personal experience, the practitioners in this field has a long waiting list. It took me six months to get an assessment for my daughter so she can be admitted to a school, another six months to have her scheduled for therapy, another six months for her speech therapy, then the follow-up appointments are scheduled six months after!
I was told by some practitioners that this happens because most would rather practice abroad than here in the Philippines. Some after practicing for a year go out of the country while some already secured a contract out-of-the-country even before they graduated. It’s sad really but we can’t blame them.
Here are some graphs Dr. Alexis Reyes presented during the GAP conference it will show you about the autism situation here in the country.
What do we need
As a parent of a CWA, I think this needs to be addressed by the government. We need more graduates in this field. Aside from that here are some of the needs that the government should have for CWAs and related disorders.
1) For parents, care givers of CWAs or people with autism (PWAs) free seminar/s and training/s to broaden their knowledge. I have learned a lot about autism and my daughters autism. Borrowing from Speech-Language Pathologist Mae-Catherine Solas Sadicon, Know Autism and Know Your Childs Autism. It is very important for the child and the carers to cope.
2) A facility or special education school with trained people to supervise/handle/teach CWAs in every barangay.
3) Government should impose a special children friendly zone in all public areas.
4) Scholarship for those who want to study in this field and stay in the country to practice.
5) Work opportunities for the high functioning PWAs.
6) A specialty food shop for those doing the GFCF diet.
Those are just some of my ideas, maybe others have better and more to share. Please feel free to put in your two cents in the comment section of this post. I’ll make sure they give this a thought that hopefully will become an action in the future.