If autism has face it would just be like me or yours or the picture above of my (only) child Haj who’s diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder at an early age of 2.5 years. For us acceptance was an arduous journey like a relentless whacking constantly reminding us that he ‘ll never be the normal person we’ve hoped for and dream of. Perhaps the disorder started early on maybe during conception somewhere along genes may have twitched. Awareness is crucial now and studies must be pursued as increasing prevalence in society is quite alarming, in US alone 1 of every 150 children is diagnosed to be within the spectrum. Parents of children with autism have questioned science, faith and even everything around them. At times we tease about X-Men (yes, the movie) a dawning of new species of men.
Children in well-off countries like US or Europe are exceedingly lucky compared to average/poor rural special children in struggling nation (like ours); the idea of a sheltered way of life may never be reality and lack educational amenities is something that he’ll continue laboring the rest of his being. April 2, 2008 and every year thereafter has been declared by the United Nations as World Autism Awareness Day and the significant remark is global awareness. In the Philippines how far have we gone? In urban Metro Manila facilities are available but doesn’t come cheap (one-on-one tutoring, shadowing, therapy, mainstreaming, etc.) and in other part of the country like my city still lacks conventional facility. Children with special needs are either enrolled at local SPED joined with PWDs (person with disabilities) whose intellectual and logical reasoning are far more intact compared to autism, cerebral palsy, mental retardation, etc. Also some local private schools are accepting but their curriculum is still flawed to further learning needs.
Haj started school when he was 3, at 10 years old he’s been to four schools by now and just finished his Level II (Grade 1) at Lighthouse Baptist Educational Center. Not that he’s unwanted by school but for parents you need to look at bigger horizon vis-à-vis your earnings can afford. As parents I suppose we’re blessed because schooling has been adventure for him (even summer classes) he’s not difficult to teach and we’re lucky that on these schools he’s been truly cared for, just the logical wiring of his brain is much delayed like that of a 4 year old. Every year he would take home non-academic honors like best in geography, in arts, in spelling or most behave; whatever thing his mentors could think off. Seeing animated kids with their future all laid out or the abandoned street kids with “bahala na saaga” attitude are lucky because they’ll have an opportunity to control their life. What we’re concerned is tomorrow, all by himself, making decisions and doing what responsible citizen of this earth does. Moment like these makes my head shake … there I got another smack.