Orientation to Autism, Parent Seminar Phase 1, Finding My Support System

This was my first time to attend an orientation to autism parents seminar (phase 1) and I must say I am very much impressed and relieved.

Impressed because the seminar leaders are very well equipped and really know what they are talking about because they too have a child with autism and they’ve been through what we newly oriented parents are going through.

I was relieved because finally, I have found a strong support base of real people who are experiencing first hand what I am going through and have been where I am right now when it comes to awareness and other intervention for the help my daughter and I need.

It was comforting to be in a place that you don’t have to be ashamed talking about my concerns and everything I am going through in my journey with understanding and helping my child with autism.

We were all able to relate to each other and I think that was the only time I was able to cry without shame at all, I think I cried the longest and hardest. This was a really touching topic for me to talk about to people I know but I was able to open up with them, the people I hardly know but, feel safe to talk issues with because we are all on the same boat in that room.

It was a small group composed of three speakers, the projector operator, me, 4 mothers, 2 couples and a nanny.

The seminar spearheaded by the Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD) Philippines, located at BF Homes, Paranaque, started with a documentary about Autism from GMA 7 I-witness, made by Maki Pulido in 2003. I wasn’t even aware of that episode before because I wasn’t aware that I will encounter first hand such condition with my child.

At the end of the show, everyone was sobbing, the lights went off, you can hear sniffles in the room but obviously everyone was ashamed until Teacher Bekky broke the ice. Everyone spoke about their experience, I was the first to talk since my daughter’s case is a bit complicated (she regressed from knowing all when she was 1 to nothing, and just lately diagnosed with epilepsy seizures).

My heart was with them as they tell their grief as parents especially a doctor in the group, a gastroendomologist, who said: “I am a doctor, but I can’t cure my child. I can’t accept it. I am still not accepting it. It can’t be he can’t be that way forever. There must be something out there that I can do.”

I can understand the irony she felt since Autism is a lifetime disorder, there is no known cure yet found for it. All you can do is modify the behaviour of the individual having the disorder to a socially accepted norm. Teach them the skills they need to help them cope with daily living and survival.

Why were we there in that seminar?

All parents want the welfare of their child. Coming to grips with the diagnosis of your child is an ardouos process not like bereavement. You would feel you have lost your child forever and coping with such feelings will take some time.

The first time a doctor told my there is something wrong with my child, she could be autistic, I was completely in denial. I was angry at the doctor for saying my daughter is “retarded”. I felt guilty that I was lacking as a mom to my child for my absence most of the time because I was at work. I felt hopeless, I was alone, nobody would understand me, help me.

“The process of accepting the diagnosis and your child for what he or she is, is often gradual and painstaking. The best way to do is to look for help.”

I am glad to say that I have found the support I need, my support system in coping with having a child with autism. With this group of people, including my family, I am more hopeful and enthusiastic in doing all means so my daughter can live at the best way she can on ways she can be capable of.

(To be continued…)

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