De Lima bats for more support to persons with autism

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Senator Leila M. de Lima has filed a measure seeking to provide necessary educational and medical support to cater to the special needs of children and adults with autism and their families.

De Lima filed Senate Bill (SB) No. 1433 mandating the government to establish a national roadmap in addressing autism and providing educational and financial support to children and adults with special needs and their families.

“Autism is a developmental disability that has yet to be fully known and understood in the Philippines. And because of the lack of educational and financial support, it is only the upper and middle-class families who can afford to send their autistic children to special schools,” she said.

“Undeniably, addressing the needs of these individuals in our country would require the creation of a law that will develop an integrated operational plan for autism,” she added.

Based on the estimates of the Autism Society of the Philippines, one out of every 500 Filipinos suffer from autism – or approximately 200,000 Filipinos out of a 100 million of the country’s total population.

The Senator from Bicol noted the need to conduct thorough and complete epidemiological surveys on the true state of autism in the country in order to provide a better understanding and treatment of autism as a national health issue.

She added that there is also a need to address the shortage of trained and highly-skilled teachers and health providers to handle and cater to the special needs of children and adults with autism.

“These considerations reflect the urgent need to conduct a comprehensive training program for health providers all over the country in order to help these persons suffering from the disorder cope with their condition and participate as productive members of society,” she said.

Under SB 1433, De Lima proposed a national roadmap for addressing autism through the establishment of the Autism Council of the Philippines to help raise public awareness about this psychological disorder as a national health issue.

She also proposed for the mandatory PhilHealth coverage for persons with autism as well as for the protection against discrimination to school children with autism and against all other discrimination against adults with autism.

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