The Davao chapter of the Autism Society Philippines sought to clarify myths and misconceptions about autism through public awareness and to “create ripples of change.”
Chapter president Uswaldo Parrenas, said through public awareness efforts, he hopes to help bring about a community that is inclusive to persons with special needs.
Parrenas said that autism is a public concern because more people have yet to have a deep understanding of the medical condition. He added that there are also those who stigmatize children with autism.
“Children with autism are not insane people, they are just children with a disorder and need special attention,” he said during the Connect press forum on Friday.
“Many people do not know how to handle these children with special needs, and some even have misconceptions about them, “he said.
“Children with autism are not violent. They are not abnormal,” he added.
According to Parrenas this year’s National Autism Consciousness Week aims to put more focus on their plight with hopes to raise public awareness and enable the community understand what are the needs of the a autism child.
His group will hold a mall parade for a cause dubbed as “Angels Walk for Autism” in a bid to promote public awareness about autism with the theme ‘From Awareness to Acceptance, Accommodation, Appreciation–guides efforts and projects on public awareness to create a difference’.
The city chapter of Autism Society Philippines (ASP) has partnered with the SM Cares, the shopping mall’s outreach program, to join the nationwide parade on Monday, January 14 starting at 1 pm in SM Lanang Premier.
He said the event is free admission and urged all the participants to wear green colored shirts during the walk.
Parrenas said that the parade aims to find ways to integrate persons living with autism in the workplace and in schools, giving them chances at various opportunities that everyone enjoys.
“A person with autism is often bullied. This is because the people around him don’t understand much about what he’s going through. Bullying often leads low self-esteem and sometimes depression,” said Parrenas as he mentions that drop outs are also a result of these situations.
He invites schools to look into mechanisms to protect children living with autism—and to mount activities that invite people to have an open mind and learn and understand realities on the developmental disorder. Equipping students and teachers with knowledge, he says, creates a better environment for everyone.
Parrenas shows an estimated cases in the Philippines, of autism rose from 500,000 in 2008 to one million people at present.
He said that the number could be higher because some areas in the country are unaccounted.
Parrenas said that parents from poor families are often unaware that their children have autism. As a result, they do not get the right treatment and intervention.
“Early detection is important in autism management–this improves both brain and behavioral development,” he said.