Proud parent of a special child

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Friday, January 24, 2014


BEING a parent is not an easy job. There are a lot of things you have to deal with from the financial to the emotional needs of your family.

Autism Society of the Philippines Davao Chapter (ASP-Davao) spokesperson, Alma P. Yu takes pride for being a mother of a child with autism or commonly known as special children.

Her second eldest child, Pocholo, 21, is a special child and Alma shared the joys and hardships of bringing up her son.

For Alma, bringing up a child with autism is much like raising ten children. They had to deal with the negative judgment of other people, their son's changing moods, and their limited resources. She said despite how normal your special child looks like, people will always judge them as spoiled or naughty. The incorrigibles.

Alma said she and her husband, Rudolph G. Yu, found out about their son's autism in 1995 after watching a show hosted by then television magazine show host Loren Legarda.

"Her showed featured a topic on autism during that time and it showed the symptoms of a child with autism. After the show my husband told me that our son was showing the same symptoms that was when we realized that our son is a special child," she said.

Finding out didn’t change how she felt about her son and she took immediate actions to give Pocholo a normal life.

Being a regular family surviving on each other’s wages, there wasn’t much to spend for special education and therapy. Thus she made use of what was available to give her son early intervention.

"Back then we do not have access to the internet like what we have now and my family did not have enough funds to join seminars. So what I did was when I have friends who go to autism seminars, I ask for a copy of their materials and handouts to learn what to do and how to cope," she said.

Alma believes that for a parent to better cope with their special child, it is important that they are equipped and knowledgeable about their child's condition to be able to know what kind of intervention to give him or her. Alma also shared her knowledge on the condition to her other children, Franco, 26, Maxine,18, and Brandon, 17, and other relatives and friends.

"It is useless if you are the only one who knows what your son has, you also need to let the household know that he is a special child," she said.

Being a pioneering member of ASP-Davao allowed Alma to raise and cope with Pocholo better.

"In the ASP, we parents with special children gather together. You cannot rely alone on the information you learned but you also need the help of other parents who are in the same situation," she said. Eventually, the group formed the Davao Autism Center, which gives special children early interventions," she said.

Alma said Pocholo was formally diagnosed with autism after ASP-Davao was established in 1996. She now plans to have her son diagnosed by a developmental pediatrician because the diagnosis will allow them to get benefits from Philhealth and SSS.

"It was through God that we are able to face all adversities. We were able to feel his presence and help in having a special child," she said.

Exposing the child to the public, treating a special child like a normal child, and giving them proper discipline are very important in bringing up a child with autism.

"If you can discipline a normal child, then you can discipline a special child but it will be ten times harder. If I tell my son that something is not allowed then I keep on repeating that to him so as he grows up, he will know what is right or wrong," Alma said.

She said parents should expose their children to the "normal" life and not hide them from the public.

Pocholo has a mental capacity of a six years old but Alma is proud that her son is very talented when it comes to numbers. They discovered his love and passion for numbers when he was 16 years old.

"He really loves numbers. I helped develop his skill by providing him calendars. Pocholo is able to match the dates and days in the calendar," she said, adding that each time she gives her son a calendar, he learns and understands it independently.

Being a proud mother of a special child, Alma strongly advocates for parents to be proud of their special child and not hide them in the dark.

"I want them to understand that their child t is a blessing instead of a baggage. I used to think that he was a baggage but then I learned to understand and realize that he is actually a blessing time and my family," she said.

Through the years, Pocholo has helped Alma to become more patient, compassionate, and understanding.

"Before I used to be judgmental and insensitive but when I had him, it opened by eyes to become more compassionate and understanding. It helped me stretch my patience not only for him but also for other people," she said.

Alma said that it is now that she was able to appreciate the blessings God gave to her and her family.

"Be grateful of what the Lord gave you. Everytime our family gets together, we always say: 'Thank you lord for giving us Pocholo as the joy in the family'" she said.

Alma said that she and her family will always be proud of Pocholo.

"Depite the embarassing moments, we can handle it. This is my child, he has autism, and me and my husband are proud parents," she said.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on January 25, 2014.

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