Friday, February 22, 2008

Sm Supermalls support Autism Sectors

The SM Supermalls Accessibility Committee, in cooperation with National Council for the Welfare of Disabled Person (NCWDP), Autism Society of the Philippines (ASP), Autism Pinoy (AP) and Philippine Association of Behavioral Analysis (PABA) conducted a seminar about autism at SM Mall of Asia recently.

The seminar themed "Recovering from Autism: An inspiring talk on a mother's fight to free her child from Autism" featured Ms. Annabel Stehli as the guest speaker, together with her daughter Georgiana. The seminar was attended by different autism sectors and parents of autistic children.

Ms. Stehli talked about how she was able to free Georgiana from autism when she discovered she is autistic. She was unable to speak and remained a silent child. She feared that Georgiana is destined for a desolate future. But, Ms. Stehli never gave up. She did everything to cure her daughter until she found this innovative therapy, Auditory Integration Training (AIT). After receiving AIT, Georgiana was able to change from autistic to a normal person. AIT really helped her to enjoy communication and to excel in school.

AIT corrects sensitivity through concentrated music therapy, which is played at different frequencies for 30 minutes, 2 times a day for 10 days. The frequency from music manipulates the brain and thus, it reduces painful hearing and allows the brain to understand the sounds better. Sounds are important in therapy because auditory, which is a sensory distortion, are common in autistic children and it is the cause of different autistic behavior. Not only autistic children can benefit from AIT but the other children who suffers from other learning and development disorder.

Ms. Stehli is the founder of Georgiana Institute. She is credited for promoting AIT to the world. She presented 2 books that depict stories about autism in the seminar. The book, "The sound of a miracle: A child's triumph over Autism" showed Georgiana's childhood and recovery from autism. Her other book, "Sounds of Falling Snow: Children's stories of recovery from Autism and related disorders" consists of personal stories of the parents whose children recovered from autism with the help of AIT.

Autism gets congressional attention

CLOSE to half a million Filipinos suffer from autism, a highly inherited brain development disorder that impairs social interaction and communication, and causes restricted and repetitive behavior—all starting before a child is three years old.

Luth Lamela, training coordinator at the Autism Society of the Philippines, says the figure is an estimate based on hospital records, and could be much higher.

“It is increasing in numbers at an alarming rate,” she said, adding autism may be detected in a child as early as 18 months, but there is no known cure.

Their disabilities aside, autistics also suffer from a scarcity of doctors and specialist teachers who can help bring a semblance of normality to their lives, says Buhay party-list Rep. William Irwin Tieng.

He has vowed to come up with bills to address the lack of medical specialists and teachers for autistic students, saying the treatment for autism is very expensive at P400 to P500 an hour.

“No wonder many parents no longer bother to put their children under medication,” he said.

Tieng’s interest in the disability grew after discovering that one of his staff, Rommel Dumilon, has an autistic child, but he has failed to seek treatment for Nikko, 12, because he cannot afford it.

Tieng has promised to help Dumilon.

In a recent consultation with the parents and teachers of 50 autistic children in Quezon City, Tieng learned that the teachers have no materials to help them deal with autistic children.

And some parents have to wait six months up to a year to secure the services of medical specialists, Jan Pena, an official of the Autism Society of the Philippines, told Tieng.

Tieng vowed to do everything he could to help autistic children.

Earlier, he asked some business establishments to comply with the provisions of the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons, a law that provides people with disability 20 percent discount on medicines and medical services and on the services provided by hotels, restaurants and recreation centers.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Philippines ABA Project: Tigas Ni Paolo Dy

Philippines ABA Project: Tigas Ni Paolo Dy
By Marisse Reyes

When I was told we would be viewing a TV commercial entitled “Project: TIGAS,” I was immediately intrigued. My fertile mind had conjured up different kinds of images and connotations. Before my imagination got the better of me, someone set up a laptop on a dining table at Hai Shin Lo, a Chinese restaurant along Pasay Road. The screen initially showed the black/white/gray blades of a fan rotating clockwise, & counting backward 5, 4, 3, 2, 1… You hear the cadence of a methodical thud, as though someone were tossing a ball against the wall. Then the camera pans across a pink and blue life-size dollhouse. If you observe closely, you would see the image of a young girl reflected on an antique life-size mirror. It was surreal, as though you were seeing a giant Alice in Wonderland. Something was not quite right. It tugged at my heartstrings to see a little girl banging her head on the wall. As if on cue, her mother gets up from the room next door. All you can see later is the mother’s hand, cupping the face of her child away from the wall, and then cuddling her. The voice-over says, “Wag nang matigas ang ulo. If you see signs of autism in your child, seek help and give them a chance at a better life. Call Project Embrace.” A logo shows a man and a woman embracing a child.

Project Embrace, a multi-media awareness campaign for autism conceived by Jimenez Basic Advertising, was formally launched recently. The officers of the Autism Society Philippines (ASP), headed by Erlinda (Dang) Uy Koe, and PABA, spearheaded by Shanti Kilduff, had a difficult task of selecting from the sixteen campaigns and twenty storyboards. Many volunteers stepped forward when Mon Jimenez, joint CEO of JIMBASIC, called in their Accounts and Creative teams to tell them about the pro-bono project. Which execution would make people more aware of the signs of Autism for families to accept their child’s condition and seek help? The storyboard for the TIGAS commercial was selected to launch the campaign. Nato Caluag and Manny Tirona of Out of the Box Productions volunteered to undertake the TV commercial’s production, which was directed by one of their Resident Directors, Paolo Dy. Optima pitched in for the post-production work. The string of volunteers was not about to end.

ASP President Dang Koe says, “If the advertising can just make people more understanding of children who throw tantrums in churches and show more compassion for the parents who are trying their best to manage them, the campaign would have done its job.”

Autism occurs once in 166 individuals, and is four times more prevalent among boys. In the Philippines, 250,000 to 300,000 are known to be afflicted with autism; however, only 5% are diagnosed and about 2% receive appropriate intervention.

How does one get across such an important message in a 30-second commercial, what’s more in 15 seconds? Director Paolo Dy says his brother Mark had had some on-the-job training in Autism, which brought the task to a more personal level. He had seen how some upper-middle class parents were usually in denial about their child’s autistic condition. Moreover, he could see that the kids really needed help. Because of the economy of story telling, the message had to be simple, compressed, effective, and straight to the point. Using visuals and audio, a well-cared for girl in a typical room relays the message: “This could be your kid. It doesn’t mean this normal kid couldn’t have autism.”

Twenty-six-year-old Paolo Dy is someone my 15-year-old son would probably call ASTIG, slang for impressive. Paolo holds a double degree in Management Engineering and Economics from Ateneo de Manila University. Nevertheless, he was obsessed with film, and decided to forego corporate life for that medium.

In January of 2004, Paolo won First Place on MTV Asia’s THE PITCH screenwriting competition in Singapore, with his screenplay, The Oracle of Avendale U. Paolo’s directorial work for Ayala Corporation has twice won Gold Quill Awards of Excellence for “Someday, Today” and “What Makes a Company Great?” These pieces were finalists in the 2004 and 2005 New York Festivals (Industrial Films Category).

Apparently, Paolo’s laurels have not given him real satisfaction. It comes to a point, he said, that you get a feeling of emptiness doing things for money. “I want to give something back…to do work which makes you feel good inside. And opportunities like this rarely come up.” Executive Producer Nato Caluag chimes in, “This is an act of gratitude for our blessings.”

Paolo Dy believes there are three things one can never have too much of: a passion for beauty, a thirst for excellence, and a supply of fresh 35MM film stock. We may not be cinematographers, directors, or screenwriters, but I have heard it said that we all have photographic memories. Some just do not have film. Perhaps the anonymous philosopher meant that God has given us so many gifts and talents, but some of us have not developed them.