A look into programs for individuals with ASD

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014


MANY parents keep asking me about placements for their child with special needs. Many are also curious about how did I choose the program/s for my son. I would like to share again some details about the program of Independent Living Learning Centre (ILLC) in the hope that it will enlighten parents on how to plan for their child with special needs.

I am not claiming that there is only one program that suits all children because we all know that each child in the spectrum is unique. It all depends on the priorities of the parents for their child. Based on my experience, parents choose the most practical program that suits the needs of their child, based on his both existing skills and potential talents.

Stepping into the ILLC grounds in Mandaluyong, one would notice that smiles and laughter are in abundance. Students greet visitors and welcome them as if the school is their own home. And to a certain extent, ILLC is not only a school to its beloved students but also a haven of growth, development and independence. This is just the initial impression I got when I first visited ILLC.

Opening its doors to youth with developmental conditions in July 2003, the Independent Living Learning Centre (ILLC) is located in Buenviaje Street, Mandaluyong City and has branches in Cebu and Davao City. ILLC aims to attain the optimum quality of life of its students and maximize their learning potential to become independent, integrated and contributing members of the society. ILLC espouses an interdisciplinary program anchored on developmental principles, a performance-based practice as well as a client and family-centered approach enveloped in a fun learning environment.

“In addition, the school believes in a team approach; one wherein doctors, teachers, therapists, caregivers and the family are working harmoniously towards the development of the student,” says Professor Archie David, ILLC’s Executive Director.

Psychosocial, speech and language, cognitive, fine and gross motor skills may be enhanced through the Early Intervention, Occupational, Physical and Speech Therapies offered within the school. In Davao, we still have to identify a speech pathologist to help us with our speech program. Peer Group sessions are also conducted to establish support systems and foster interaction among youth with special needs.

For students who wish to have an intensified program, Special Education (Sped) tutorials and classes are available as well. Trained and highly competent Special Education teachers handle the classes with five or at most 10 students per class.

Individualized Educational Programs (IEPs) are carefully and specifically prepared by a multidisciplinary team of teachers and therapists to support the academic and adaptive needs of individuals with special needs.

At the start of every school year, the ILLC team conducts an assessment of the baseline skills each student possesses. From hence, the team would develop an age and developmentally appropriate IEP for every student.

Transition Education Program

The ILLC is also special in its own right because it conceptualized and proactively upgrades the country’s first curriculum-based Independent Living Transition Education Program for adolescents and adults with special needs. The Transition Education Program (TEP) progresses through 5 components namely: Applied Academics, Life Skills, Community Living, Leisure and Recreation and the Pre-vocational Training Program. I will discuss in detail the contents of these five components in next week’s column. (To be continued)

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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 April 23, 2014.

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