Davila, who gave the opening remarks during the launch, talked about her son, David, diagnosed at the age of three to have Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS), or having some behaviors seen in autism but not necessarily having Autistic Disorder. David, now 10 years old, celebrated his birthday on the same day of the launch.
“When you have a child with autism, parenting becomes a whole new ballgame,” Davila added, to which many parents of persons with autism agreed. Davila learned of AAAP’s initiative to build A Special Place, a residential community for individuals with autism through the organization’
Dr. Covey is a psychologist and professor of Clinical Psychology and a Research Scientist at the Columbia University Medical Center in New York. She is also parent to 33 year-old Mikey, who is living in a group home in Westchester, New York for 10 years.
“Before AAAP, we were strangers to one another. We came together in AAAP, have become caring friends, bonded by a common cause – you might say – fear. What will happen to our charges when their parents and caregivers are no longer here? Our goal is to build a nurturing environment where these adults with autism can grow – safely, productively, with their peers, and independently of their original families,” says Dr. Covey.
AAAP Vice President Catherine Cham was a proud parent during the launch as his son Vico, 20 years old, sketched on-the-spot individuals who graced the event, including Davila, while Macky Palomares played the piano. Vico’s older brother, Carlos, a graduating architect student, presented his perspectives of A Special Place and its amenities as part of the program. “This is a labor of love,” remarks Carlos Cham.
The organization has identified a 1-2 hectare property outside of Lipa City. “The site fulfils the basic criteria that we had planned for a cool environment, not necessitating air conditioning, not flood-prone, and close to a metropolitan area which would have facilities for medical care, training centers for staff and residents who can work outside of the group home premises,” according to Dr. Covey.
A Special Place will consist of six individual houses, one building for staff and visitors’ quarters, and another building for administration, the library, and medical facilities. Residents will be adults who receive the diagnosis of autism, as certified by a clinical team composed of a neurologist, a psychiatrist, and a psychologist.
For more information on A Special Place and AAAP, contact Carissa Villacorta at +639175955480 or send an email to adultautismphil@
The Association for Adults with Autism, Philippines (AAAP) is 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 http://adultautismphil.wordpress.com for more details.