Hope for 'A' Nation

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Wednesday, October 2, 2013


I AM quite excited on what is going to happen on October 26-27, 2013 at the Meralco Hall, along Ortigas Avenue corner Gardner Street, Pasig City.

It will be the 13th Philippine National Autism Conference. The Autism Society Philippines organizes this event every two years to gather experts from the Philippines, the United States and other Asian countries, to talk on issues and give updates in the field of medicine, education, law and such other topics that will help individuals with autism spectrum disorder and their families cope with the challenges of ASD.

I would like to quote the exact words of the Autism Society Philippines: "The Philippine National Autism Conference is designed to provide information in developments relevant to allied medical professionals, social servants and community workers who work with autism. Most importantly, this event was created for the growing community of parents, family members and individuals on the autism spectrum who are seeking for answers, quality support and fellowship."

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The theme for this year's conference is: "Hope for 'A' Nation: Towards Awareness, Acceptance and Inclusion." The ASP has chosen very interesting topics and prominent speakers.

For example, the topic on “Law and Autism” will be presented by no less than the Secretary of the Department of Justice, Hon. Leila de Lima. Her son, who has ASD, is her inspiration to become a parent-advocate and role model in upholding the rights of PWDs.

Another expert, Dr. Alexis Reyes, one of the top developmental pediatricians in the Philippines, will talk about "Autism Redefined: The Implications of Redefinition of ASD in DSM5 on Diagnosis and Prevalence."

"Dance Therapy" will be discussed by Ms. Ana Rivera who has a diploma course in Special Education and a master's degree in Speech Language Pathology. She had training in dance therapy in Wichita, Kansa. I am also curious about "Yoga for Sensory Integration" by Ms. Anna Escay-Cortez, a family and community yoga teacher certified by KidzYoga-Australia and Rainbow Kids Yoga.

Mr. R. Vicente Rubio, diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome in 2010, will talk on "Building successful life skills strategies for Young People on the Autism Spectrum." Mr. Rubio, a degree holder in Dance in 2004 from SUNY Empire State College and Director of Pathfinder Mentoring, currently designs and teaches alternative PE classes for students with autism, ADHD, LD, and other social, behavioral, and academic challenges in public and private schools.

Another important topic during the conference is on "The Dental for a Person with Autism" and this will be discussed by the Executive Director of the Pediatric Dentistry Center Philippines, Dr. Manuel V. Vallesteros, DMD.

I am sure that parents will also benefit from the discussion on "Medical Issues and Morbidities in Adult ASD" by Dr. Cornelio G. Banaag Jr., Chairman, Department of Psychiatry, The Medical City. Another very interesting topic is on "The Truth about Stem Cell Therapy and Autism" by Dr. Antonio Dans, a Professor and Health Advocate. I do hope his talk will give light to parents who are contemplating on trying this for their child.

Other prominent personalities who will join panel discussions include Ms. Karen Davila, an award-winning Filipino broadcast journalist/television presenter and a mother of a child on the spectrum, together with Atty. Anna Teresa Gozon-Abrogar, the president of GMA Films.

Both will discuss "Autism in Media." Cavite Gov. Juanito Victor Remulla Jr., a father himself of a child with autism, will give the "Message of Hope." His province is said to be a front runner in delivery of public services for persons with disabilities.

Of course, an autism conference is not complete without the presence of our very own Prof. Apollo Abelardo I. David Jr., the founder of Independent Living Learning Centre (ILLC). He has always been a resource person every autism conference and this time, he will be a panelist on "Employment and Livelihood for Adults on the Spectrum."

I am encouraging parents, teachers, caregivers, students and all advocates and professionals from Davao City to join me in attending the 13th Philippine National Autism Conference. Let us continue to learn to be able to share more and help improve the lives of individuals with autism spectrum disorder. Together, let us be part of this hope for “A” nation.

*****

(Jane Ann S. Gonzales is a mother of a youth with autism. She is an advocate/core member of the Autism Society Philippines and Directress of the Independent Living Learning Centre (ILLC) Davao, a centre for teenagers and adults with special needs. For comments or questions, please email janeanngonzales@yahoo.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on October 02, 2013.

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