Friday, February 22, 2008

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.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Found your blog looking for Irlen syndrome (scotopic sensitivity or Maerles-Irlen syndrome. Have child (likely 2) on the autism spectrum. 42 yr old husband seems to be also. Living where autism is said by many to be an 'epidemic.' You and your readers may want to read the blog 'Adventures in Autism,' from February 29, 2008 to present. Also should look into dietary intervention! I thought the person that told me I ought to look into it was crazy, even though I am an RN and public health nurse. Or, should I say, because I am? Has helped one of our children, & even 1 of our children that is neuro-typical (celiac disease?), yet many questions abound. Funding is still elusive for us & MANY here, as well as how to get help. Hope things improve quickly for the families affected by autism in your country.