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Bacolod City, Philippines Monday, January 17, 2011
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Autism week kicks off

The 5th National Autism Consciousness Week celebration was declared open yesterday in Bacolod City by Autism Society of the Philippines-Bacolod president Melanie Sabino, after an “Angels Walk for Autism” from the Capitol Lagoon to the University of St. La Salle.

The activity, which was held first in Bacolod yesterday, aims to make everybody in Bacolod City and Negros Occidental aware that even if it is not curable, early diagnosis is very significant in treating autism, Sabino said.

Early intervention plays a key role in helping children diagnosed with Autism Syndrome Disability to become productive members of society, she added.

Sabino said, hopefully, more students will want to be special education teachers after they find out more about autism during the weeklong activity.

“We also want the government to know that we need help. Our city needs help because everyday there are more and more diagnoses of autism,” she said.

Since diagnosis is very expensive, they hope to help the under- privileged with the diagnosis and treatment of autism and eventually their education, she added.

With early intervention, the children will be able to go to regular schools like her son, Niccolo, Sabino said. But this will depend on the recommendation of the doctor, she said.

If they want to go to an alternative school or a traditional school, it will also depend on the traits of the autistic child, she added.

Sabino said that in the Philippines, millions have been diagnosed with autism since the late 1990’s.

In the United States, 10 years ago, the ratio was one in 100 and in a span of five years it became one out of 90, she said.

The ratio is increasing and they do not know why, Sabino said. She said that, perhaps there are just more people aware of it. Even pediatricians are more familiar with autism so they refer the patients to Dr. Maricar Alejano in Bacolod City or to St. Luke’s in Manila, she said.

Meanwhile, several activities will be held during the weeklong celebration such as film showing at the USLS Auditorium A starting 8 a.m. today, while an iPod prologue demo will be conducted by May Amodia on Tuesday at 8:30 am.

Elsa Leonardia will talk on “Managing male adolescence with Autism Syndrome Disability” at 10:30 a.m., while Dr. Maricar Alejano will discuss “What it means to have autism” also on Tuesday.

An art contest exhibit will open on Jan. 19 at 9 a.m. at the USLS Coliseum, while a photo exhibit by the Masskara Camera Club of Bacolod will be held from Jan. 19-21 also at the USLS Coliseum and will be moved to the SM Event Centre on Saturday at 10 a.m. where the awarding of art contest and talent show will follow at 4 p.m.

A mass and family day will be held on Sunday at 9 a.m. at the SM Event Centre.*CGS

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