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An Autism Advocate in Adel Tamano

18 Jan

Adel Tamano, a Filipino lawyer and politician, wears many hats. He is the spokesperson of the United Opposition and is currently the President of the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila.  He is also an autism dad.

In his weekly column in Philippines Star, Mr. Tamano often shares his musings on being a father to Santi (who is a PWA) and expounds on many questions that parents of children on the spectrum ask. Select AAAP Board Members recently paid him a visit to explain the organization and our mission.  His responded with this article, “A future for our kids with autism ” in his regular column”Mano a Mano” which appeared on 15 January 2012.  While he does not mention our organization by name, he speaks of how he has  “high hopes for it and perhaps if there are enough families with children with special needs who also aspire to have a special center or home that specifically caters to the needs of adults with autism …”

(L-R) John Xavier, Alex Gaston (AAAP Director), Lirio Covey (AAAP President), Jerry Quibilan (Ateneo for Better Philippines) and Adel Tamano.

Vico Cham on the Manila Bulletin

16 Jan

AAAP’s resident artist, Victor Francesco “Vico” Cham, is no stranger to media attention. He has held a one-man show for his artwork, bested “normal” kids in art competitions and garnered TV and print coverage for his unique talent.

Proudly autistic
By Angelo G. Garcia
13 December 2010

MANILA, Philippines — In 1999, then eight-year-old Victor Francesco “Vico” Cham was playing in the office of his parents who are both architects.  The office was filled with art materials that Vico could play with. He grabbed a blueprint, some poster paints and a brush, sat on the floor and started to paint his favorite cartoon show on the back of the blueprint.

“I was in the shower and I did not know that he was in the office. When I asked what he was painting, he replied ‘Blues Clues, mommy.’ So if you observe the painting, there’s a house, there’s the garden. Immediately, after he finished his painting, I had it framed. That’s the time I realized that my son could be an artist,” recalls mommy Cathy Cham.  It would have been a mother’s ordinary discovery. Only, Vico has autism and the fact that he could produce beautiful artworks brought immeasurable joy, and hope, to his mom.

Now at 19 years old, Vico is the pride of his parents, and the Autism Society Philippines (ASP). He is now known for his artworks, which were even featured in a television show. Earlier this year, he had even held his first one-man exhibit at SM Marikina, featuring more than 50 of his digital and hand-drawn artworks.

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The Cham’s on “The Heart of the Matter”

12 Jan

Victor, Cathy and their two boys took center-stage in this video produced by the Family and Life Update, a pro-life site dedicated to the many issues families are facing today.

Victor and Cathy share their experience of autism. How they discovered that their second son, Vico, was different from other kids; how they struggled and accepted his condition; and, how they work together – as a family – to inspire other families also dealing with autism.  We also get to speak with Vico himself, and his older brother Carlo about their relationship as brothers, and how their family moves forward in spite of everything. Join us as we get to the heart of the matter.

Meet Lirio

10 Jan

Lirio Sobrevinas Covey is the founder and current president of AAAP and proud mother of Mikey, an adult with autism. She is currently a Professor in Clinical Psychology in Psychiatry with Columbia University Medical Center. She earned a doctorate in Psychology from the City University of New York , and completed a master’s degree in Psychology and post-doctoral training from Columbia University. She is a licensed psychologist for the state of New York State. Her clinical and research work focused on smokers who were both nicotine dependent and suffering from co-occurring depressive disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and alcohol and/or drug dependence. She co-authored a book that collected her experiences and those of other smoking cessation experts entitled “Helping the Hard-core Smoker: A Clinician’s Guide”, and has been the senior author or co-author on numerous peer-reviewed US and Europe-based scientific publications.

Lirio attended St. Theresa’s College in Quezon City and in Manila from grade school through college. In 1964, she graduated from STC with Summa Cum Laude honors and was named one of the Ten Outstanding Students of the Philippines. She recalls fondly her fellow awardees for that year who continue to live in the Philippines and remained good friends – Vicky Pineda Garchitorena, Sonia Malasarte Roco, Alberto Fenix, and the late Senator Raul Roco. After more than 50 years of studying and working in the United States, Lirio is returning with her family to live in Manila. When she is not ballroom dancing or renewing childhood and college friendships, she plans to devote her time in the Philippines to the development and nurturance of AAAP and the residents of A Special Place.

She penned “Living with Autism,” a personal story, which was published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer in June 2011.

On-the-Spot Drawing with Vico Cham

6 Jan

Vico Cham’s attention to detail is apparent in his unique hand sketches.  He captures unique features of his subjects with a slight motion of his colored tools which are kept in immaculate order.  His first solo art exhibit, “Colors of Autism”, was held in 2010 at SM Marikina.

Meet Vico.

Living with Autism

2 Jan

For most of the pioneer members of the AAAP based in the Philippines, this article, penned by Lirio Covey, our organization’s President and Executive Director, was the germ of it all. Since it first appeared in the Philippine Daily Inquirer in 25 June 2011, parents from all over the country echoed Lirio’s hopes to provide a loving residential community where our children with ASD can thrive long after we are gone.  This article was also reprinted in the Autism Society of the Philippines website.

When my firstborn was not quite four months old, his first nanny had delighted me with the comment, “You have a precocious son.” And so it was that Billy became a source of family pride with his growing social, physical and mental prowess.

So imagine what a shocking blow it was when several years later, Dr. Isabelle Rapin, a noted neurologist in New York, gently told me that our second son Mikey, then 3, had what she termed “a brain disorder” and would likely need supervision throughout his life.

This very general diagnosis followed an earlier labeling of my child that should have been unnerving, but was not at the time. Looking back, I was probably refusing to acknowledge the observation of family and friends, and the doctors’ eventual findings.

Mikey, then and now. (Photos contributed by L. Covey)

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A dream village for Filipino adults with autism

1 Jan

AAAP’s flagship project, “A Special Place”, takes center stage in this GMA special report; but it also features some of the amazing families that comprise our membership:  the passionate Erick Villacorte and Ulan, the energetic Cathy Cham and Vico, and our formidable President, Lirio Covey and Mikey.

A dream village for Filipino adults with autism
Camela G. Lapeña, GMA News November 10, 2011 2:17pm

We won’t be around forever. This reality is something most people take for granted, but for parents whose children are diagnosed with autism, it’s especially worrisome.

“As I grow older and became more aware of my mortality, it gives you a sense that life changes, your vulnerability… I started thinking, I’m getting older, the time will come when I will need care. I won’t be able to take care of my child with autism,” says Lirio Covey, whose son Mikey was diagnosed with a “brain disorder” when he was three years old. It was 1982, and little was known about Mikey’s condition then.

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