Bring it on, 2014!

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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

I AM sure that most columns and blogs today are either about New Year’s resolutions or summaries of highlights of the past year. I would like to ride on this trend by noting that 2013 was indeed a productive year for me when I started this advocacy column about autism spectrum disorder. I thank Sun.Star Davao for this opportunity of being able to reach out to many people in Davao City (and to some people from all over the world) for a higher level of awareness and understanding for individuals affected with ASD. And I thank those who continuously support us in our journey through autism, as evidenced by your “likes” and “online recommendations” on the articles I share. I also appreciate the lessons I learn from every email that I receive.

As my 21-year old son continues to live and learn through the challenges of autism spectrum disorder, our family, relatives and friends also continue to weave our activities around him and for the community of persons with autism and other special needs.

There are so many exciting things to do in 2014. For a start, we will celebrate the 18thNational Autism Consciousness Week on January 19-25, 2014. Once again, we look forward to participating in the much acclaimed Angels’ Walk for Autism as a kick-off event spearheaded by the Autism Society Philippines. If last year’s Angels’ Walk was attended by 10,000 participants, it is expected that this number will increase to around 12,000 advocates nationwide. In Manila, the 2014 Angels’ Walk will be held on January 19, 2014 at the SM Mall of Asia Arena from 8:00 am to 12:00 noon. The 26 provincial and city-wide chapters of the ASP will also organize simultaneous Angels’ Walk for Autism to show that an entire nation is committing itself to support and protect the welfare of persons with autism. This year’s Angels’ Walk for Autism is extra special because it will coincide with the celebration of the 25th year or the Silver Anniversary of the Autism Society Philippines.

The year 2014 is also my 22nd year of advocacy. As my son turns 22 this year, our family is now all geared up to support him in his “first business venture”. We are thankful that his teachers at the Independent Living Learning Centre (ILLC) Davao have been preparing him in terms of work behavior and discipline. He is being trained to follow work schedules and instructions under the ILLC’s Job Readiness Program for the past years. After identifying his interests and strengths as well as his limitations, we have finally arrived at the best options for his work placement. Now, our entire family is happily brainstorming on what business name to use for his job and on planning the lay-out of his work station at home and in a space at my husband’s office. I will be sharing the details of the job in the next articles.

Another activity that I look forward to in 2014 is the launching of a project for PWDs with the City Government of Davao. With the help of Professor Archie David and ILLC Davao, we dream of replicating the much awarded Project Teach, a Community-Based Rehabilitation (CBR) project that Professor David has initiated with the City Government of Mandaluyong. This will enable indigent children with autism and other related intellectual disabilities to receive therapy and thereby enjoy a better quality of life. Again, the details of this project will be announced later.

There are also plans to hold a seminar for parents, teachers and students on Applied Behavior Analysis. The resource person will be a licensed practitioner of Applied Behavior Analysis from California, USA.

And last but not the least, we are looking into the possibilities of coming up with an interesting project with Ms. Jojie Alcantara, a known photo-journalist and writer, who is also a staunch advocate for PWDs.

Today is the first day of 2014 and I hope and pray that it will bring all our dreams into reality…. all for the sake of our children with special needs.


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

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on January 01, 2014.


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