AAAP Raise Funds for 1st Residential Community for Adults with Autism in the Philippines
Residential communities and villages for adults with autism are established in various countries around the world, such as the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, South Africa, Botswana, India and South Korea, primarily due to concerns of parents on the continuing care of their children as they age. Examples are the Camphill Communities, Homes Caring for Autism, The National Autistic Society residential services, and Heartspring.
In the local context, the Association for Adults with Autism Philippines (AAAP), a non-stock, non-profit association composed of parents, educators, and other advocates for persons with autism, is undertaking the construction of the first residential community for adults with autism in the country, called “A Special Place”.
AAAP President Lirio Covey, whose son, Mikey, has been living for 10 years in a group home in Westchester, New York, explains, “Group home residence for persons with autism is a not a novel concept. These programs have thrived throughout the world, in Europe and in the US, even in places in the Middle East and Asia. Group residences for adults with autism have been shown to benefit its residents. Their family members benefit, too. In many ways, the larger society benefits as well.”
The organization considered various models in choosing the right home group that will fit in Philippine society and culture. “In the US, the predominant model is the single group home run by private individuals or an umbrella agency. Residents of these homes are brought to their various day activities by vehicle transport. With the scarcity of appropriate facilities in most areas in the Philippines, including Manila, and the notorious traffic situation, we didn’t think that model would work here,” continues Covey.
In a fundraising event launching “A Special Place”, Covey presented that AAAP opted for the farmstead model, which is the most popular type in Europe and also exists in the US. “This model, necessarily located in a large area, comprises several individual homes all located within the same campus or setting. In each home, residents have their own bedrooms, their own baths; they share a kitchen, a dining room and a living room. Within the farmstead are areas for productive work, exercise, socialization, and recreation. For the Philippine setting, we think the farmstead model would work best.”
A model that integrates residential and vocational training program for autistic adults was developed by Sybil Elgar in the United Kingdom in 1976.
After considering several possible sites for this residential community, the group has identified a 1- to 2-hectare property outside of Lipa City. Officers of AAAP pool their personal funds to purchase the lot where “A Special Place” will soon rise.
“Our small group of pioneer parents and founding friends will contribute towards a seed fund, but we know that our pooled contributions will be far from adequate to cover the initial and on-going outlays. To that end, we are mounting a Capital Campaign to ensure the viability of our timetable and fundraising plan,” says Covey. Being a first in the country, AAAP foresees the project as a milestone where various companies, organizations, and individuals can help achieve.
Covey closed her presentation with an appeal, “We ask you and the larger Filipino public to take pride in helping us build ‘A Special Place’. Help us generously, with your heart. Lead us and speak about us to others who can help. Together, we will make history. We will change people’s lives.”
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The Association for Adults with Autism, Philippines (AAAP) is a non-profit group conceived and established by parents of persons with autism. The association aims to provide sustained enrichment opportunities and long-term care to these individuals as well as offer means to achieve personal growth, social interaction, and a cooperative life among their peers. Visit https://adultautismphil.wordpress.com for more details.
Figures A to D are the drawings and perspectives of “A Special Place” by architecture student Carlos Cham, whose younger brother, Vico, is an autistic adult. Their parents, Jun and Cathy Cham, are architects and are active members of AAAP.