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The Center for Possibilities: From disabled to enabled

The Philippines has one of the highest rates of prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in the Asia.  Based on a 2009 study done by the WHO, the website Autism Partnership indicated that the Philippines had an estimated 500,000 cases of ASD at a time when our population was 91 million.  In the same year, 1.1 million cases or ASD were reported in China, which then had a population of over 1.3 billion.   It is for this reason that the mission of the Center for Possibilities Foundation, Inc. of providing special education for children with special needs in poor communities in far flung rural areas is vital towards our advancement as a nation.

The World Health Organization defines the condition this way: “ASD refers to a range of conditions characterized by some degree of impaired social behavior, communication and language, and a narrow range of interests and activities that are both unique to the individual and carried out repetitively.”  

“ASD often imposes significant emotional and economic burden on people with these disorders and their families. Caring for children with the severe spectrum of the condition may be demanding, especially where access to services and support are inadequate.” 

Untreated, those who suffer from ASD are not only unable to reach their full potential, but the special care and attention they require has adverse effects on the long term productivity and quality of life of their families as well.   Addressing ASD is not just the humanitarian thing to do, it is in the best interests of every Filipino.  

The WHO estimates that currently, 1 in 160 children globally has ASD, and that the numbers are on the rise.  Given that the average size of a Filipino family is 5, 1 in 32 Filipinos at least is affected by this condition.  For poor families in rural areas where both parents and often some children work, an untreated child with ASD can have devastating consequences. 

The good news is that considerable progress has been made in the diagnosis and treatment of those with Autism Spectrum disorder. However, in terms of society benefiting from these advances we have a long way to go.  

It is the mission of the Center for Possibilities Foundation to raise awareness and to change how we as a nation perceive this condition, as well as to raise funds towards providing life changing interventions for poor Filipinos who can benefit most from these methods.  Towards this, the Center for Possibilities has built and is operating a special education (SPED) center in Sagada Mountain province, and is in the process of establishing another facility in Norzagaray Bulacan.  Sites in Tacloban and Sorsogon are also in the works.  

Autism Spectrum Disorder is a condition that more people are conscious of than ever before.  As science has learned more about this condition, the once hidden potential of exceptional individuals on the spectrum is coming to light in ways that are surprising, beautiful, and inspiring.

As part of its fund raising efforts this year the Foundation staged a benefit concert called Love Inclusively, back to back with an art exhibit called Art Exceptional.  The concert featured the Manila Symphony Orchestra, with the special participation of Ogie Alcasid.  The talents of three children with special needs were also showcased.  Juno Santos played a piano number, while Henry Munarriz and Samantha Kaspar sang.  Samantha Kaspar also launched her own personally crafted line of fragrances.  

Art Exceptional featured never before seen paintings from Juno Santos, Samantha Kaspar and Vico Cham, an exceptional individual with special needs who works full time at a regular job with the Unilab Foundation, and who is a prolific painter whose paintings have been sold to patrons here and abroad.        

As improvements in interventions continue to be made, we are now more acutely aware of the fact that given the right treatment at the right time, those on the spectrum don’t just become functional, and enabled, they can in fact thrive and excel.  It isn’t just isolated, extraordinary individuals either.  Those on the spectrum who end up getting normal jobs are more focused, less easily distracted, more punctual, more honest, and less prone to getting bored with tasks that typical people regard as boring.  

It is thus not difficult to imagine the tremendous impact a timely intervention can have on the life of an indigent child with special needs from a poor family in a rural area, and the ripple effect that such will have on the child’s family, their community, and ultimately our whole country.  

The proceeds of “Love, Inclusively”, and “Art Exceptional” are being used to fund SPED assessments, evaluations, and classes for the Foundation’s SPED center in Sagada and the soon to open center in Norzagaray, Bulacan.  For more information on the Center for Possibilities Foundation go to: https://www.facebook.com/thecenterforpossibilities/ , if you would like to make a donation, send email to: mpdiokno@manpromad.com or call (0918) 888-1759/723-1242.

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