Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas Presentation

I am so excited to see the Christmas presentation these great kids prepared.
They are so lovely swaying and dancing. Who would ever thought they are challenged in some ways. Way to go great kids!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Job and Autism

Today is my second encounter with people from Autism Resource Center in Los Banos. The son is with me and was assessed by an Occupational Therapist. While waiting for his turn we just stayed at the ARC Diner and had a firsthand glimpse of how the life of the young adult with autism goes through the day. At around 10 a.m. I saw the teens took break from work and munched their snacks.

These teens are very handsome especially when they wear their work uniform. Since some could travel alone they are assigned to deliver food to nearby places. They also help in the Diner by washing dishes and serving food. They look fulfilled in being productive and having a job of their own.

One of them approached me while eating his snack and introduced himself. He then asked my name, my age, my birthday, my son’s birthday, my son’s age and my mother’s birthday. Afterwards, he blurted “Is he autistic?” while pointing to my son. “Oh!”, I said “Yes, he is.” It was funny; I was surprised that he was aware and could recognize if somebody has autism.

I saw them joking with each other. They said funny things, they laughed and seem to be happy. That handsome young man also told me that one of them will give a blow out. Then someone said, “I’ll touch his neck, maybe he has fever because he plans to treat us.” Then there was laughter all around. It was so touching and inspiring to see these teens. They have a very beautiful world of their own. While watching them, I am dreaming that sooner my son would be at least like them

It was a tiring yet fulfilling day. Today I had the chance to foresee what could be in store for my son as he continues to train and study in a special school. Academic education is not enough, autism is a lifelong disability and everyday is a learning opportunity for the parent and the child affected by it.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Litmus Test

I’ve been to ARC and became teary eyed when I saw the video of these teens with Autism. It was so touching to see them become independent and gained higher self esteem because they can fend for themselves through their work. It was no small feat for parents and teachers who are doing great job to prepare them to be productive adult come the time that they will be on their own.

The thought of my son being all by himself when that time comes makes me shiver sometimes. Many “what ifs” are running on my mind. This was exactly the reason why my feet brought me to the door of Autism Resource Center. The son is already a teen and needed to be prepared for pre vocational or technical training. Prior to seeing a developmental doctor he has episodes of aggression and depressive moods. A combination of a 5’7” boy and a tantrum might hurt the people around or even hurt the boy himself. It’s good that someone was able to pin him down when it happened. It is the only thing that you could do when a person with autism resorted to aggression and unacceptable behavior. This led me to consult another doctor for the 4th time. There he was assessed to be ready for life skills and training for a job. We were referred to JASM at PWU North Edsa, but it is too far from our place. I then contacted the Autism Society Philippines and from there I got the contact information of the Laguna Chapter.

Teacher Rizza Cansanay of ARC accommodated us and she became reminiscent of the year 1997. She told me that I was the first Vice President of ASP-Laguna Chapter. I almost forgot! I even almost forgot that I was so passionate then for my advocacy about Autism. Being in the league of parents who were all first timer with the world of AUTISM was challenging. Our kids shared a common disability but we had different experiences. The hardship that we went through flashed on my mind. That was the time where there is very little information about Autism Spectrum Disorder. It will take you about 30 minutes to download files from the internet. Back then people would throw a questionable look at your child. Many were unaware and misinformed.

Now fast forward to 2010. The internet is exploding with a lot of information about Autism. But why are we back to SPED? I don’t know. It just happened. My son after he entered regular school seems to be in denial of his situation. After finishing grade 3 he didn’t want to attend regular classroom set up anymore. Then for some reasons he doesn’t want to hear the word “Autism”, “Special” or “SPED” or be associated as being a person in the spectrum. But after he graduated from elementary he somewhat became bored with his high school home schooling. This might be the reason why he sometimes becomes agitated while at home. He lost his initiative to do household chores like washing his own clothes, cleaning the house and cooking.

After that August aggression episode, it became an eye opener for all of us. We sought professional help. Then everything went perfectly into places. I was able to talk to him and let him accept who he was. I told him that many people of his age are just like him and they are doing well in their work. Some are very popular like Temple Grandin. It also helped that the developmental doctor told him that he needed to work for himself and have a salaried job or a business. His siblings later on will probably take care of him if they love him so much. But it will be a different story when they have family of their own already. At the least my son must know how to cook and take care of himself.

We were blessed to have found his former SPED teacher through Teacher Rizza’s help. Ideally located near our place we went there and asked if he can still be admitted for this school year.

Last week became a litmus test. Will he continue to go to his new school and attend his job training and therapy sessions? Alas! We finished 5 days of school without any hassle. I am living one day at a time now. It is crystal clear to me now why in the world I left and became dissatisfied with the corporate jungle. I am needed by my son at this point in time and nothing could take me away from him thus a career change.