By Leonel Abasola
MANILA – Senator JV Ejercito called on the national government to give emphasis on the needs and welfare of almost 1.2 million Filipinos who are on the autism spectrum.
In Senate Bill 2062 or an Act Establishing Center for Autism, Ejercito said it is about time that the government should also take care of children and adults who are suffering from autism and other intellectual disabilities.
Data from Center for Disease Control and Prevention show that autism affects one out of every 68 persons, and in the Philippines, one in every 100 Filipinos has autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
ASD is a brain-based disorder that affects behavior, communication skills and social skills. It includes Asperger’s Syndrome, Rett Syndrome, Childhood disintegrative disorder, Kanner’s syndrome and Pervasive Developmental Disorder- Not Otherwise Specified (PDDNOS).
Ejercito’s measure seeks the creation of a center for autism that would establish diagnostics, therapeutic and rehabilitation clinics, provide vocational training programs for autistic adults, and extend free diagnostic and rehabilitation to indigent autistic.
It also proposes training programs for teachers, therapists and other medical professionals who will aid children and adults with autism.
Under his proposal, the Center for Autism shall be governed by the National Autism Board, to be placed under the Office of the President (OP).
The center will be headed by an official of the Department of Health while members will be from the Department of Education, Department of Social Welfare and Development, and National Council for the Welfare of Disabled Persons.
Two representatives from the Autism Society of the Philippines, and two parents of children and adults with autism will be on the board as well.
An initial fund of PHP50 million from the OP will be allocated to jumpstart the center. (PNA)