DAVAO City –Celebrating the Autism Consciousness Week from January 19-25, parents of children with autism as well as support groups led by Autism Society Philippines –Davao Chapter (ASP) continue to emphasize early intervention as very crucial in order to properly handle Persons with Autism (PWA).

Utilization of early and consistent intervention programs as well as correct knowledge of family members on Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD make a lot of difference in raising PWAs, pointed out Alma Yu, a mother to Pocholo, 21, a PWA.

Alma and husband Randy have patiently and lovingly raised Pocholo aka Popo who can now interact with people and has learned to cook rice and wash dishes, among others.

Guesting in a DSWD radio program Friday over DXRP Radyo ng Bayan, Yu said, “I have brought with me Popo today as part of his continuing education and exposure. He even helped me locate the radio station. It’s a miracle! Thank God for Popo. Before, Popo could not talk, he could only shout loud. I had to borrow books and read hand outs on ASD so we could provide what he needed. I also exchanged notes with other parents just to be able to know more about the condition and deal with it head on.”

To other parents, Yu urged, “What is important is the family’s acceptance and doing what is necessary like providing early interventions and improving perception of family members and others in the immediate community. With God’s help we can do something about this. Let us not lose hope. You are not alone. We are here to help you.”

Yu as a mother and as member of ASP Davao said they will utilize all possible information dissemination outlets to let the people understand ASD and really get to them the right information in order for them to be more receptive and tolerant of PWAs.

She shared that it was through DSWD that the self-help group of parents of PWAs in Davao City was organized in 1996.

Febe Matthews, a mother of a 12-year old child with autism pointed out that her affiliation with ASP helped her in dealing with her child. She said she was able to interact and learn from other parents the best interventions for her child as each PWA is classified and unique and requires different modes of management

Matthews hopes though that government will subsidize the Php 2,000 assessment fee for ASD that is being charged by developmental paediatricians “so other families that can hardly afford could avail such procedure.”

Result of ASD Assessment is needed in prescribing and providing appropriate intervention for a particular PWA case.

ASD is a development disability that severely hinders the way information is gathered and processed by the brain which causes problems in communication, learning and social behavior.

Typically, it appears during the child’s first three years and is four times more common in males than in females.

Found throughout the world in families of all racial, ethnic and social backgrounds, persons with ASD live normal life spans while behaviors associated with it may change and disappear over time.

Clusters of symptoms include lack of language skills, extremely short attention span, absence of response when attention is called, little or absence of eye contact, repetitive body movements such as hand clapping and rocking, fixation on a single object such as spinning fan, and usually strong resistance to changes in routines.

The theme for the week-long observance is Katuparan ng Karapatan ng Pilipinong may Autismo, Isulong Mo, Ngayon Na.

Lined up activities include Angel’s Walk at SM Lanang Premier –January 19, Stress Management Workshop at SM City Davao Annex –January 23, and Sensory Friendly Movie at SM City Davao Cinema 4 –January 25,

ASP Davao President Eric De La Costa invites parents, teachers, professionals and friends to show their love, support and solidarity by joining the events.

“Please do help us develop our PWAs to be self-reliant, productive and socially accepted by the community,” De La Costa appealed.

Further information on ASD and ASP may be obtained by connecting to 0905-2701910. (DSWD/Carmela Cadigal-Duron)