DIFFERENT BUT NOT LESS

30 Jun

By JOSEPHINE PALOMARES
June 25, 2012, 3:07pm
Source URL: http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/363391/different-but-not-less
Copyright 2012. Manila Bulletin | All Rights Reserved

Macky plays the national anthem at AAAP launch
Macky was born pre-mature at eight months old as my doctor has to ‘cut me up’ because I was having pre-eclampsia (hypertension). He was a healthy baby and my first-born at age 34.
When he was two and a half, during a family outing at a theme park, he was so hyperactive – running around the park uncontrollably. He spent the whole day running and staring at anything that moves around. My sister told me to have him checked because he seems ‘weird’. He was non-verbal (old folks would tell you that maybe he is just ‘delayed’ as most boys are) and seemed deaf; did not have eye-contact; and would watch TV sideways.
What could be wrong with him? We brought him to a hospital to have his ear checked. His hearing was ok.
On our first visit to a Developmental Pediatrician, the diagnosis was autism and it was to be a lifelong condition. Of course we did not believe her and continued our rounds of several pediatricians, psychiatrist and psychologist. It was to be the most stressful year of my life.
Several questions arose as to what could have caused it. Is it during my pregnancy? Was it my fault that he was born that way? What did I do? Have I not been a good mother?
Finally my husband and I decided to face it head-on. We gave him all the therapies he needed; but we resolved never to treat him ‘special’. At six years old, Macky is still non-verbal. His speech therapies continued till last year because his therapist had to leave.
I read all I could find out about autism and I joined ASP (Autism Society of the Philippines) and became an active member. I advocated for my son and joined their activities. At ASP, I found out that there are other kids that have multiple disabilities (co-morbid condition with autism). I met Moms who would later inspire me and change my perspective on autism. I realized I am not alone. I was thankful; and counted my blessings.
Macky is now 13 yrs old and highly-functional. He attends a regular school and is fully-included. He is now verbal and plays the piano. He is just like any regular teenager except that he still has some ‘odd’ mannerisms like jumping when excited and looking sideways.
I wish that Macky will be happy and will go about life without so much pain and difficulty. That he will find work and have friends. I hope that when Macky becomes an adult, our society will be more accepting and tolerant of people like them.
“For they may be different, but not less” (quote from Temple Grandin).
A Special Place is the flagship project of the Association for Adults with Autism Philippines (AAAP), 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 adultautismphil.

Figure 1 Different But Not Less : Macky plays the national anthem at AAAP launch

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