ILOILO City is celebrating the weeklong 14th National Autism Consciousness Week with a program highlight on Sunday, January 24, at SM City Iloilo.

Dolores Laudenorio, head of the Office of Persons with Disability Affairs (Opda), said autism is a lifelong development disability that affects at least 600,000 families in the Philippines. It is a disability that affects how an individual interprets what he sees, hears and touches, thereby impairing his understanding and use of language and his adaptation to his environment.

Click here for stories and updates on the Sinulog 2010 Festival.

The disability is not curable but is treatable. When a child is diagnosed and receives intervention early in life and given the appropriate education and therapy, they can become self-reliant and productive members of society.

As such, Laudenorio said autism is considered as the fastest rising developmental disability in the world and its prevalence in children rose from one for every 150 persons last year and expected to increase from one for every 110 persons.

The Autism Society Philippines (ASP), with 42 chapters nationwide, is in the forefront of providing services to affected families, Laudenorio said.

ASP Iloilo Chapter with 50 members will spearhead the Iloilo celebration with the theme "Giant Leaps... Transcending Boundaries."

The event will also be held to showcase the growth of ASP for the past 20 years in providing services even to far-flung areas, she said.

The local chapter, Laudenorio said, is headed by President Editha Jardeleza for 2009-2010, Vice President Lope Manlapaz, Secretary Neva Gregorios, Treasurer Prima Ibieza, Auditor Harold Derequito, and PRO Mary Gen Mabunay. (LCP)