Helping Persons with Autism Help Themselves

Manila Bulletin, November 22, 2009 | Go to article overview

Helping Persons with Autism Help Themselves


“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” - Chinese proverbThe challenge continues as children with autism become adults. Although the Magna Carta defines their right to employment, the reality is individuals with autism need more equal opportunities to work.The Magna Carta for Disabled Persons or Republic Act 7277 defines the rights for employment of persons with disability (PWD). Its parameters:• No PWD shall be denied access to opportunities for suitable employment• Five percent of all casual, emergency and contractual positions in all government offices that are engaged in social development shall be reserved for PWD.• The Department of Social Welfare and Development shall design and implement training programs to enable PWD to engage in livelihood activities or obtain gainful employment• State shall establish sheltered workshops to provide employmentto PWD who are unable to find jobs through open employment.At the 11th National Conference of Autism Society Philippines, two speakers presented some best practices for providing work opportunities and creating programs for small and medium-sized companies to employ individuals with autism (PWA).SHELTERED WORKSHOPS AND SELF DIRECTED EMPLOYMENTTeacher Archie David, founder and executive director of Independent Living and Learning Center (ILLC) in Mandaluyong, explained that in sheltered workshops, social enterprises are established to create jobs and opportunities for PWD.There are several local schools that have sheltered workshops which provide vocational programs to prepare them for future employment. ILLC, for one, operates Abelardo Diner which employs PWAs, including a chef! ILLC’s laundromat also has PWAs as employees.Other ILLC students undergo training in the sheltered environment until they are ready to join the mainstream workforce. Some are already employed by establishments in food service. Others are trained with computer and clerical skills. Regular consultations are provided by ILLC staff.Teacher Archie presented a series of steps that vocational therapists follow to ensure that the a PWD will be able to sustain the enterprise that he/she will invest in. Among the business models that maybe considered to assist the PWD entrepreneur are: a business cooperative that provides a central philosophy and marketing/purchasing capacity; or a subsidiary corporation/ franchise that allows small operations to begin under the protective umbrella of a larger and fiscally astute organization.SUSTAINABLE WORK-LIVE-PLAY PROGRAMASP Laguna Chapter president Rizalinda Cansanay shared the sustainable work-live-play training program for young adults with autism and their families in Barangay Batong Malake, Los Baños.Aside from training these young adults, the chapter networks with member schools, families, local government units and community groups in Laguna, advocating for PWA-friendly mechanisms in the form of environmental adaptations, volunteer networks, educated populace, and institutionalized programs.This hometown program is involved in enterprises that meet the demands of the residential subdivision within the university community.

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