Autism and the National Autism Consciousness Week

Angels Walk 2016 at the MOA Arena in Pasay City. © Autism Society Philippines

The term autism was first used by Eugen Bleuler in 1908 to describe a patient “who had withdrawn into his own world”. He used the term to refer to persons with morbid admiration and withdrawal within self. It came from the Greek word “autos”, which means “self”.

More than a century later, studies revealed that autism is a neurological and developmental disorder that results to difficulties with interaction and communication. Persons with autism often repeat a particular behavior constantly, get fixated on objects and/or have sensory issues. Specific causes are still being identified.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1 per cent of the population is living with autism. There is no available statistics on autism prevalence in the Philippines but using CDC data, we can estimate that more than 1 million Filipinos have autism.

Recognizing the need for awareness raising on autism, the Philippine Government declared the third week of January as the National Autism Consciousness Week in 1996. This year, the celebration is scheduled on 5-11 February to be led by the Autism Society Philippines.

It will be kicked-off with the Angels Walk for Autism, a yearly activity of Austism Society Philippines since 2007. It is the largest autism advocacy event in the Philippines where an estimated 16,000 advocates will celebrate diversity and walk for autism acceptance and inclusion. Registration is free.

Other activities throughout the week are: 1Bansa, 1Pangako, Forum on Managing Challenging Behavior in Autism, The Autism Advantage Employer Forum, Friendship, Love and Romance and Artismo*: Kulay at Kwento ng Autismo. Local celebrations will also be led by ASP chapters and partners from different cities/municipalities, provinces and regions.

For those who are interested to join, more information about the activities of this year’s celebration is available on Autism Society Philippines’ website (http://bit.ly/2juIOSD) and Facebook page (http://bit.ly/2jh3GuL).

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