MANILA, Philippines - About six months ago, I had the good fortune of having an article published in a local (Manila) magazine about my own and my family’s experiences raising and living with Mikey, now an adult person with autism.The response to the article was quite overwhelming. By e-mail, regular mail, or overseas telephone calls, from areas in the Philippines to my home in New York, I heard touching narratives from mothers, fathers, siblings, uncles, friends of persons with autism. Some of the parents had adult children who would have immediately qualified as residents of the residence; there were others with children as young as six years of age, already concerned and making plans for their young child’s future.
One mother wrote, “I read your article through tears because I felt I was reading my own life story.” Another said, “I have worried for so long about what would become of my child with autism when I can no longer be there for him. Having read your article and your plan, I now have some hope.” Two families of architects who had children with autism said they wanted to help plan the homes. I also heard from educators and pediatricians who had no family members with autism, but recognized the needs of these special people.All said they wanted to help.
From those article responders has begun a membership composed of parents and advocates for persons with autism.Prior to the publication of the article, a small group which included leaders of local (Manila-based) agencies for persons with disabilities had gathered to start off effort towards the residential project. The keystone project, to be named “A Special Place” would be the establishment and running of residential programs for these individuals. The group calls itself the Association for Adults with Autism, Philippines (AAAP); it is registered with the Securities Exchange and Commission.— Lirio Sobreviñas Covey