EVERY child has the right to receive quality education regardless of gender, race or social status.
However, there are certain circumstances that prevent children from attending school, some due to the lack of finances while others have special needs.
In 2013, a school for special children with special needs was established to give opportunity for the special kids to receive quality education and help them use their special gift to make a difference in themselves, in their families and in their community.
The Intervention Center for Autism and Related Exceptionalities or iCare, owned and managed by Renato Tangonan, the program director, is a school committed to provide efficient and effective quality therapy and educational services to children with autism and other related disabilities using the scientific procedures of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) as the foundation of intervention.
“I put up iCare because I want to give opportunity for the special kids. Kay usually man gud ang nangyayari sila yung hindi natatanggap sa school, eh saan sila pupunta?” Tangonan, an ABA specialist and who holds a Master of Arts in Education, major in Special Education, said.
Although there are a lot of great schools in Cagayan de Oro, Tangonan said there isn't one that is equipped to handle the needs of the special children.
“Nung bago lang ako dito sa CDO, marami akong na encounter na ten years old na siya, hindi pa nag school kay ang rason ng doktor kaya hindi pa muna niya pinapa school hindi pa raw siya nakakapag sit down, hindi siya nagfo-follow ng instruction,” Tangonan said.
“Sabi ko, ‘kailan sya pwede mag school? Pag 30 years old na?’ So lalo nang hindi na pwede. Because of that, naawa ako sa kanila, that's why I put up iCare basically for those reasons,” he added.
ICare is also the first therapy center for special children in Cagayan de Oro that uses scientific procedures based on the ABA method.
According to school's program director, iCare offers three major services: Psycho-Educational and Behavioral Diagnostic Assessment, which is done by Dr. Lara Maguad, a doctor on Psychological and Child Development from Manila; Behavior Therapy Program; and Special Education Program.
The school caters to children with: Autistic Spectrum Disorders, Pervasive Developmental Disorders, Global Developmental Delays, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders, Down syndrome, Learning Disability, Speech and Language Delays, Behavior Problems, and other related conditions.
“Para sa amin dito sa iCare, basta ma reach na niya yung proper age, regardless of kung ano ang disability nya, pwede na syang mag school dinhi,” Tangonan said.
“Kung ang concern ng parents is: 'Paano kung hindi pa sya nakakapag sit down, hindi pa siya nakakapagsalita?' then we take care of that, kaya nga meron kami dito kay that's our specialization. So we teach them how to speak, how to sit down, how to focus,” he added.
Tangonan also shared that the children who underwent their therapy and special education classes are now able to cope up in regular schools.
The center started small and classes were first held in Xavier Heights Subdivision. Then they moved to Nazareth, and in 2016, they moved along Maris de Lara Street in Macasandig.
Parents and clients who saw significant improvement in their children became the marketing strategy of the center as its clientele grew from the referrals and word of mouth.
That's why, apart from children with special needs from Cagayan de Oro, they also have clients outside the city such as in Davao, in Visayas, and even from US, kids of the Overseas Filipino Workers.
At present, they have more than 80 children with special needs who are enrolled in iCare.
ICare will be celebrating its fifth year anniversary during the last week of September with the theme: Under the Sea.
In the week-long celebration, Tangonan said they are planning on having a motorcade and on the first day, they will be having a field demo with the special kids as their kick-off ceremony.
They will also have a film showing and plans to invite students from public schools to celebrate their anniversary with them.