Ilocos Norte aims for a better vision towards Autism

LAOAG CITY, Jan. 22 (PIA) A group of mentally challenged (Euphemistic term for Autism) sees no wrong in their society while they dance in joy and excitement during their performance at the Laoag City hall flag raising ceremony yesterday for the kick-off of the ‘National Autism Week’.

Teary-eyed, Mrs. Benet Pagtama, a mother of a 7-year old mentally challenged in Marcos town here related her story of survival, patience, understanding and love towards her kid with disability.

“Many people think that children with this kind of condition are a problem that needed an urgent solution, they do not know it is a blessing that needed to be thanked for” she said as she delivered her speech during the said occasion.

She relates how her son transforms her vision in life into a more hopeful and positive manner and how she perceives God as the only one who can judge His creations.

Mrs. Pagtama is only one of the million mothers nationwide who shares the same yoke.

In April last year, it was reported by a US-based Autism and Developmental Disability Monitoring (ADDM) Network that for every 88 people, one is affected with the disorder.

In the Philippines, it is estimated that approximately one million Filipinos are affected by the disorder, simply called autism.

Autism is a special condition wherein the brain develops differently and has trouble with an important job: making sense of the world. People usually call it autism, but the official name is autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

The third week of January has been declared as National Autism Consciousness Week, pursuant to Presidential Proclamation 711 signed in 1996 by then President Fidel V. Ramos.

The celebration this year, on January 20-27, carries the theme “Autismo Alamin: Pagtanggap at Pag-unawa Palaganapin” that aims primarily to intensify understanding persons with autism and their acceptance as productive members of society who have also their inherent rights and dignity.

The Provincial government of Ilocos Norte on their observance of the celebration will spearhead a day for the mothers with a special child to discuss cases about autism.

Caroline Cera of the Provincial Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said that mothers from the five Stimulation and Therapeutic Activity Center (STAC) across the province are the participants will be joining the forum on the 30th of January.

“First, we will organize a meeting to know their needs for their accreditation since there is no yet organizational chapter in our province. The purpose of this is to, at least, they will be included as a national organization to benefit from the national program for autistic” Cera explained.

The discussion aims to educate the parents first towards autistic condition, next target of the local government will be the public.

“With this, we hope, that the misconception of the public to the autistic, little by little, will be diverted into something really good, that they will get more conscious towards autism” said Christopher Media of STAC office in Ilocos Norte.( PIA1-Ilocos Norte/ Cherry Joy D. Garma)