Arianne Grace A. Ardenaso,
EXPERIENCES AND LEARNINGS AS AN AAAP INTERN
Growing up with a younger brother who has autism, I’ve always wanted to dedicate myself to the cause for autism. I know the challenges that comes with autism but I still felt that I have a lot to learn about it. I also knew in my heart that I wanted to reach out to other people with autism like my brother and help them, too.
During my freshman year in Miriam College, I was able to work with children with autism at a SPED school in Quezon City for our MC-102 class as part of our advocacy. It was a very fulfilling experience because I learned how to interact with different kinds of children with autism. I found how diverse they are, each of them has their own talent or skill, and of course they also had their own weaknesses. When the semester ended, I told myself that it would not be the last time that I would work with people with autism.
Fast forward to junior year, another opportunity to work with people with autism came. Our Public Relations professor, Mr. Bagaman, gave us the option to volunteer as interns for either Best Buddies or the Association for Adults with Autism as an alternative to presenting a PR plan for the finals. When he introduced the two organizations, I knew I had to join. However, I was in a bit of a dilemma because I wanted to join both organizations, as they were both dedicated to the cause for autism. Of course, we could only choose one. Best Buddies is more focused on the younger ones, on the children with autism. AAAP, on the other hand, is more focused on the “grown-ups”, the adults with autism. In the end, I chose AAAP.
I chose AAAP because I wanted to experience something new, as I’ve already worked with children with autism. I also thought about my own brother who has autism because he is also nearly on his way to adulthood. I felt that by joining AAAP, I would be able to learn about adults with autism, and that these learnings would be very helpful for my brother.
I did learn a lot with AAAP. I met a lot of incredible people, especially the adults with autism themselves! Meeting them was inspiring, especially the fact that some of them are working. It gave me hope that my younger brother would someday be like them too, successful despite having autism. Meeting the parents and the other people behind AAAP was wonderful, too. They are all nice and warm and they made us feel welcome. I can say that the AAAP is a family and I am glad to be part of it.
Attending and helping in the activities was very fun and at the same time I was able to apply what I learned from PR class into the internship. I enjoyed creating the ID design for the Autama Trivia Night event and one of the posters for the Mindfulness seminar. Designing is one of my favorite hobbies and being able to use my creative skills for AAAP was very fun.
My favorite event with AAAP was the Autama Trivia Night because we were the ones who organized the event and we were also the ones who prepared and set-up the venue. It was very tiring because it was a lot of work but at the end of the day, it was a huge success and knowing that everyone had fun, all the stress and tiredness went away. It was a very, very fulfilling experience for me and I want to do more activities like that in the future.
The semester may be ending but my dedication to the cause for autism is not. I hope to still be able to join in the events of AAAP and ASP in the future despite having the busy life of a college student. I consider my internship at AAAP to be one of the most significant parts of my life because I was learning, applying what I learned from class, having fun, and most of all, doing something that I love. I’m very thankful for the experience and I believe it helped me grow as a person.