MANILA, Philippines — A virtual celebration to be led by the National Council on Disability Affairs (NCDA) has been set to commemorate the 14th World Autism Awareness Day, the theme of which this year highlights the need to create a “kinder and inclusive world” for persons with disabilities.
This year’s World Autism Awareness Day “aims to bring individual autism organizations together for research, diagnosis, awareness, and treatment purposes,” the NCDA said in a statement Tuesday.
“Although there’s no known cure for autism, there have been reports on the recovery of people with autism at their early age through early speech or behavioral interventions,” it added.
The United Nations declared April 2 of every year as World Autism Awareness Day in a bid to underscore the need to “help improve the quality of life of persons with autism spectrum disorder so they can lead full meaningful lives as an integral part of the society.”
This year’s world theme, according to the NCDA, is “Inclusion in the Workplace: Challenges and Opportunities in a Post-Pandemic World.”
The global event will be celebrated in the Philippines on April 5 instead of on April 2 to give way to the observance of Good Friday.
The theme adopted by the Philippines for 2021, the NCDA said, is “Empowerment and Equal Opportunity: Together we can create a kinder and inclusive world for Persons with Disabilities.”
The NCDA cited a World Health Organization (WHO) reported in November 2019, which showed that one in 160 children has Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
The report said that ASD “begins in childhood and tends to persist into adolescence and adulthood,” according to the NCDA.
“While some people with ASD can live independently, others have severe disabilities and require life-long care and support. Evidence-based psychosocial interventions, such as behavioral treatment and parent skills training programs reduce communication difficulties and improve social behavior creating a positive impact on well-being and quality of life for persons with ASD,” the NCDA’s statement read.
“It declares that interventions for people with ASD need to be accompanied by broader actions for making physical, social, and attitudinal environments more accessible, inclusive, and supportive,” it added.
Further, it pointed out that globally, “people with ASD are often subject to stigma, discrimination, and human rights violations.”
“Globally, access to services and support for people with ASD is inadequate,” it added.
NCDA Executive Director Emerito Rojas announced the virtual celebration of the World Autism Awareness Day through the “Webinars on Mainstreaming Persons with Autism in an Inclusive Society” on April 5.
“On World Autism Awareness Day, the persons with autism must be taken into consideration in the formulation of policies and actions to counter the COVID-19 pandemic”, Rojas said.
“Let us work together in ensuring that policies to counter Covid-19 must likewise be responsive to the concerns of all persons with disabilities,” he added.
Among the topics to be discussed are:
- Myths and facts about autism spectrum
- Coping anxiety among persons with Autism during the COVID-19 pandemic
- The Department of Labor and Employment Integrated Livelihood Program for persons with disabilities
- Livelihood opportunities for persons with disabilities.
Dr. Erlinda Borromeo, founding president of Autism Hearts Foundation based in the United States, will also join the discussion and speak on the global overview of ASD.
Aside from the webinars, the NCDA said the Philippine Association for Citizens with Learning and Developmental Disabilities (PACDLD) will lead an awarding ceremony for autism advocates at the Gateway Gallery at the Araneta Center in Quezon City.
Ten staunch advocates of persons with autism will be recognized, according to the NCDA.
“They are the sterling pillars of autism in the Philippines who relentlessly supported persons with autism and their families,” it said.
The J. Amado Araneta Foundation together with Araneta City, Inc., meanwhile, will lead the Light-It-Up Blue (LIUB) ceremony by lighting with blue light the Araneta Coliseum’s facade “in the dusk of this global event.”
The LIUB, the NCDA explained, is a campaign initiated by Autism Speaks which encourages owners of iconic landmarks, skyscrapers, and homes around the world to light up blue lights on World Autism Awareness Day.
Autism Speaks is a U.S.-based non-governmental organization promoting global support for persons with autism.
Women with Disabilities Day
The NCDA, together with the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW), also led the celebration of the 17th Women With Disabilities Day with other agencies and organizations of women with disabilities in Mar. 29.
This year’s theme is “Women’s with Disabilities in Leadership: Achieving an Equal Future in a COVID-19 World,” which “emphasized the role of women with disabilities in shaping the new normal with high hopes and expectations in their capability as leaders in ensuring the future post-COVID pandemic world,” the NCDA said in a separate statement.
Several webinars were conducted on the challenges and solutions of women with disabilities during the pandemic.
Rojas said the NCDA will “continue its efforts in empowering persons with disabilities through responsive plans, programs, and services for the sector.”
He then urged all women with disabilities to stand up and take up the challenge of leadership in rebuilding the post-pandemic era.
“I call on all women with disabilities to take the challenge of taking the lead in empowering more women with disabilities and be part of re-building the Nation. Let us all join hands in realizing that goal for the betterment of the sector in the post-COVID world,” he said.
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