'Otistik'

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With much anticipation, I went about filling up the ID application form for Persons with Disability (PWD) a couple of months ago. This ID card entitles my son, who has autism, the same benefits senior citizens get from their senior citizen’s ID. A ray of light for families burdened with the costs of dealing with autism.I browsed through the disability classification: “hearing impairment, visual impairment, speech impairment, orthopedic impairment, mental/psychological disorders, deformity/amputee, learning disability, neurological diseases, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, Parkinson’s disease, others (please specify).”It was very disappointing to know that there is no specific box for autism.This could have been a good start to finally have an autism registry in the country.Obstinately, I put an additional box in the form, checked it, and wrote “AUTITISM” across the box. I simply cannot let a disability affecting one in 150 children be brushed aside with “Others.”In less than a week, my son was issued his PWD ID. Instead of “Autism”, “Learning Disability” was typewritten on his ID. Checking the downloadable and updated form from the website of the National Council on Disability Affairs, “Learning Disability” indeed includes autism, together with dyslexia and slow learner.CLASSIFYING AUTISMUnderstandably, classifying autism is not simple. Autism is a spectrum disorder. Some of those affected may have learning disability, even mental retardation; but others may have the IQ of a genius Thus, some parents object violently to have their children with autism classified as mentally or intellectually disabled.Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder. In general, persons with autism (PWA) have no hearing and visual impairments, but many have sensory processing disorder – affecting the way they process information through their five senses. Some may have speech impairment, including being totally non-verbal; but even those who have no speech problem are challenged by the nuances and subtleties of true communication in a social setting.That being said, PWAs belong to our society’s so called disability sector. According to internationally accepted statistics, 10-12 percent of any given population is with disability. With our current population of almost 90 million, that translates to at least nine million Filipinos with disability.On July 17-23, the country celebrates its 31st National Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation (NDPR) Week. A friend lightheartedly questioned how can persons with autism (PWA) join in this celebration when autism cannot be prevented (there is no accepted cure yet) nor rehabilitated. But the Autism Society Philippines (ASP) believes that while each PWD is unique and has individualizedneeds, there are many common areas that people with all kinds of disability can work on together. There is strength in number. Let us celebrate the NDPR Week!The week-long celebration is spearheaded by the National Council on Disability Affairs with partners from government and private sectors. Schedule of events for the week, which can be found in the NCDA website, includes a job fair and entrepreneurship capacity building for PWDs.A regular Angel Talker, Tiffany Tan shares her thoughts about the 31st NDPR Week. Mom Tiff is the resident writer of ASP’s ASaP e-newsletter, aside from being secretary of ASP’s board of trustees. She vigilantly surfs the net about rights and opportunities for PWDs, like her son JR, a second-year college student and PWA – proudly with autism.*****Tungo sa Katuparan ng Karapatan ng PWDs or Towards the Implementation of Rights for Persons with Disabilities is the theme for the 31st NDPR Week. …