Manila, Philippines Headline: An Act Expanding the Benefits of Privileges of Persons with Disability

6 Dec

A Christmas Gift to Persons with Disability from the Department of Social Welfare and Development, Philippines.

The “graying” of autism: an emerging public health problem

28 Nov

by Lirio Sobrevinas-Covey, Ph.D.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is presently regarded in the medical community as a lifelong disorder. Since the adult years span the ages 18 to about 80 years or more, the greater proportion of persons who are autistic are adults. Thus, the longevity of persons with autism is not so different compared to non-autistic persons. The attached photo of Douglas Triplett at age 82, the first person diagnosed with autism in 1943 by Leo Kanner, is an example of an autistic person reaching an advanced aged.
The earliest generation of persons diagnosed with autism, from the 1950’s to the 1960’s, have reached or are approaching “old age”. Little is known about the characteristics of autism during the older years and there are no established protocols on how to provide support and appropriate interventions for the medical or social needs of older autistic persons.
Most professionals experienced in caring for autism persons are familiar with childhood autism needs, but not with the needs of autistic adults. Conversely, clinicians experienced in geriatric care are unfamiliar with autism which had been, for too long, considered a childhood disorder.

A companion problem is when, in earlier years, autism was not diagnosed and instead, the observed symptoms were solely attributed to some other condition, such as depression, anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, intellectual disability, or epilepsy, and the transition to aging results in more visibility or intensification of the core symptoms of autism. The un-diagnosed autistic individual may have received treatments for the more apparent co-occurring conditions but the impairments due to autism were neglected. It is also possible that the care given to the suspected but incorrect diagnosis, resulted in treatment resistance rather than improvement.

In the general population, a not uncommon accompaniment of aging is the deterioration of neuro-cognitive abilities, for example, dementia. It is unknown whether persons with ASD are at risk of a similar or more rapid deterioration of cognitive functioning (by contrast to established knowledge regarding progressive cognitive deterioration in Down’s syndrome).

The reality of autistic aging has received limited attention from those engaged in clinical care and from the research community. That reality, however, has come in the growing numbers of aging autistic persons. Understanding the characteristics of aging in autism, the underlying changes in brain structure and functions, and developing appropriate supports and treatments should be important elements of the medical and public health research and clinical agenda.

Reference: Hategan A, Bourgeois JA, Goldberg J, International Psychogeriatrics, Online: Sept 2016

“Growing Up with Autism: Journeys of Love, Devotion, and Hope”

15 Nov

A collection of narratives from 10 Filipino mothers and fathers of persons with autism was launched last October 22, 2016, in connection with the 5th Annual Symposium held by the Association for Adults with Autism Philippines at the Ateneo Law School in Rockwell Center, Makati, Manila.

The parent contributors wrote of their experiences, emotional trajectory, and life-changing decisions as they adapted to their child’s special condition. This anthology is the first of its kind from Filipino parents. Lirio S Covey, Ph.D. was the editor and a parent contributor. “Butterflies”, the art work on the book cover is by Matthew Aragon, a young man with autism, in collaboration with his art teacher, Lawrence Raya.

In the foreword, Dr. Ma. Lourdes Carandang, Ph.D., National Social Scientist of the Republic of the Philippines, writes – the book is a MUST READ for all parents and professionals”.

Philippine Secretary of Health Dr. Paulyn Rosell Ubial, M.D. wrote the following in her endorsement – “This is a heartwarming and inspiring book of the journey of families challenged by raising a child with autism. The book is a testament to the timeless value of inclusive societies and humanity bonding for special and differently abled individuals! It gives hope and inspiration for all that being different is not a fault but a blessing to most individuals and their families”.

Books may be purchased by calling 63-917-881-2836 for orders, or emailing, and are available for immediate sale at Vico’s Artism Gallery, 51-A West Capitol Drive, Pasig, Metro Manila.

5th AAAP Symposium Entitled Growing Up Autistic : Gaining Knowledge, Gaining Skills

29 Sep

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A symposium for families and other advocates of persons with autism

2 Days to go before the Oct 1 deadline of the pre-registration to the symposium on Oct 22, from 8am to 4pm!

Donald Triplett, first person diagnosed with autism

18 Sep

Donald Triplett, born in 1933, first seen by Leo Kanner in 1938. Finding no match of Donald’s behavior patterns in the medical or psychiatric literature, Kanner came to describe Donald to his parents, in 1942, as having "autistic disturbances of affective contact. In 1943, in a groundbreaking article, Kanner called Donald’s condition – autism.

5th AAAP Symposium Entitled Growing Up Autistic : Gaining Knowledge, Gaining Skills

8 Sep

A symposium for families and other advocates of persons with autism

On Saturday, October 22, 2016, at the Ateneo Law School in Rockwell, Makati, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Association for Adults with Autism Philippines (AAAP) will hold its 5th annual symposium.Department of Health Secretary Dr. Paulyn R Ubial, M.D., will be the Keynote speaker. She will present the Philippine government’s initiatives for meeting the autism challenge and the experiences and findings by her team of Filipino researchers from the first Philippine epidemiological study of autism.Dr. Lirio Covey, Ph.D., President of AAAP and Professor of Clinical Psychology at Columbia University will discuss recent findings indicating the neuro-diversity of autism and its implications on families’ and societal management of autism.The philosophies, goals, and features of leading special education schools in the Manila area will be presented and discussed with the audience by the respective program heads:Abelardo Apollo David, Jr of the Independent Learning Living Center; Ma. Rosario Joaquin of Shine Intervention; Ericson Perez of One World School; Rizalina Ochoa of Anima Christi Center for Learning and Human Development; Ma. Yolanda-Abundo of The Learning Center; Dayal Nandwandi of Stepping Stones. Employment, social, and art initiatives for persons with special needs will be presented by: Rhodora Fresnedi-Palomar of United Lab Foundation’s Project Inclusion; Michelle Aventajado of Best Buddies Philippines; Catherine Cham of Vico’s Artism Gallery.
Family members and friends of persons with autism and other special needs, educators, developmental clinicians, caregivers, and other advocates are invited to attend. Pre-registration (before October 1, 2016)=Php 1000; On-site registration=Php 2000; students (with ID)=Php500. For more information, contact Christine Siruelo, AAAP Board Corp Secretary, at 0917-881-2836; Cathy Cham, AAAP Vice President, at 0917-500-7760; or email AAAP at

Weight gain, risperidone and aripiprazole, and metformin

26 Aug

Weight increase with risperidone and aripiprazole neutralized by treatment with the diabetes drug metformin.

Risperidone (Risperdal) and aripiprazole (Abilify) are antipsychotic medications that have been approved by the Federal Drug Administration (U.S.) to treat irritability, aggression, and agitation in children with ASD. However,  either of these antipsychotic medications can increase weight, which is a risk factor for diabetes.

Metformin, a diabetes drug, was examined in a 16-week randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial for its effect on maintenance or reduction of weight gain. The study participants were 61 children and adolescents with ASD aged 6 to 17 years, randomized to receive metformin or placebo.

The study results indicated that metformin was significantly more effective than placebo in reducing weight gain experienced in the children with ASD who were treated with risperidone or aripirazole. Children who received metformin experienced declines in body mass index (BMI), a measure of weight adjusted for height, during the trial. Children who received placebo showed no declines in BMI from baseline. Overall, adverse events did not differ according to metformin or placebo treatment, with the exception of more frequent days of gastric symptoms among children who received metformin than children who received the placebo.

The ability of metformin to prevent weight gain offers greater flexibility for prescribing risperidone or aripiprazole for children with autism who experience significant weight gain during the drug treatment.

Reference: Anagnostou E, Aman MG, Handen B. Metformin for treatment of overweight induced by atypical antipsychotic medication in young people with autism spectrum disorder. A randomized clinical trial. Anagnostou, E., Aman MG, Handen BL et al. JAMA Pschiatry. Published online August 24, 2016. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2016.

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