Protocol sought for 1.2-m Filipinos with autism
From awareness to inclusion, the Autism Society of the Philippines has called for a protocol for the 1.2-million Filipinos with autism in order to address their unique needs.
Speaking during the annual Angels Walk for Autism at the Mall of Asia Arena, Mona Veluz, National President of ASP, pointed out that the protocol will provide the guidelines for parents, the government, the private sector, academic institutions, healthcare professionals and all stakeholders to address their needs and provide for the services for their full inclusion into society.
Veluz said ASP is pushing for the passage of a law that will provide for a protocol specifically for people with autism that will guide all stakeholders on how to treat people with autism.
“We have already achieved awareness and now we are moving for full inclusion which includes a protocol,” she said.
She noted that people with autism have unique needs which are different from other People with Disabilities.
The Angels Walk for Autism is the biggest gathering for people with Autism, organized by ASP and SM Cares at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City. SM Cares is the Corporate Social Responsibility arm of SM Prime Holdings, Inc.
The gathering was attended by legislators led by Senator Riza Hontiveros, Akbayan Rep. Tomas Villarin, SM executives led by Hans T. Sy, Chairman of the Executive Committee of SMPHI, international organizations, cause-oriented groups, people with autism, their families and people in support of autism.
Veluz pointed out that their employment initiative is in full swing with the employment of more than 200 people with autism in SM Savemore and other companies around the country. She pointed out that there are around 1,000 in their autism database who have expressed their desire to work.
“People with Autism are employable and they have shown that with their work with SM Savemore where they multi-task as baggers, greeters, merchandise officers among others. Now we are working to have more companies hire our children so that they can be independent and realize their self-worth,” she stated.
SaveMore President Jojo Tagbo said they will expand their employment program for people with autism this year to more branches all over the Philippines.
“We are very happy with our employment program with ASP because people with autism have shown that they are easy to teach and they are hard-working. They are very focused and they do their job well,” he stated.
Autism is a developmental disorder with a range of difficulties in social, emotional and communication skills, which occurs in all racial, ethnic and socio-economic groups. It is more common among boys (1 in 42) than girls (1 in 189).
With the theme “Acceptance, Accommodation, Appreciation”, around 24,000 people attended the gathering surpassing last year’s record of 22,000.
“We are very happy that our attendees are increasing every year. We started ten years ago with just 200 people along Manila Bay but today, we are 24,000-strong at the Mall of Asia Arena. We could not be happier and honored,” Veluz said.
During the program, the ASP gave recognition to several groups they said are their heroes in making the Philippines Autism-OK (A-OK). They include SM Prime Holdings Inc., SM Supermarkers, legislators who filed and worked for the passage of laws for people with autism, development pediatricians, speech therapists and the parents of children with autism who have worked hard to help their children overcome their disability and be productive members of society. The program culminated in a walk around Mall of Asia.