Iba ‘Yan further raises awareness on autism, extends help to Down Syndrome patients in latest episode

Since February is hailed as the National Down Syndrome Awareness Month, Iba ‘Yan further raises consciousness about it by featuring the inspiring lives of three persons with developmental disorder who keep on pursuing their dreams despite their condition through its latest episode last Sunday, January 31.

To learn more about neurodevelopmental impairment, the program consulted Dr. Robina How-Dy and Joan Rirafael, as well as chatted with celebrity single parents Pinoy Big Brother Otso ex-housemate Hasna Cabral and actress-comedienne Candy Pangilinan who imparted their experiences in having children with autism.

Having a kid who also has Down Syndrome, Thai-American beauty queen Suzanna Yuzon is also one of those who want to spread awareness about this condition. Thus, she founded the pageant “Miss Possibilities” in the Philippines wherein the candidates are young and young adult girls with developmental disorder.

Host Angel Locsin had the opportunity to talk to one of its winners, Samantha Pia Cabañero, a 22-year-old diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) who was crowned Miss Possibilities 2018. Samantha was diagnosed with ASD when she was two years old. Through therapy and the unwavering love and support she got from her family, she was able to live like how normal kids do. At present, she’s been practicing graphic design and pursuing college at the Ateneo de Manila University. 

However, she also experienced being discriminated by other people, such as in that instance when she sought the help of the police after her phone got stolen. They may have escorted her home, but they told her “manang” that Pia is crazy because of how she reacted while being interrogated.

When asked what normal people should do and improve in order to further understand them and tweak the way we socialize with them, Pia said that talking and spending time with them and for consideration and understanding for persons with special conditions to be more innate in all of us. 

Aside from being a volunteer in Miss Possibilities Foundation Inc., Samantha also leads various organizations that support people with special needs. She aspires for people with the same condition as her to have opportunities in the future for them to pursue their own careers. Thus, in order to help her succeed in her advocacy, Iba ‘Yan coordinated with Down Syndrome Association of the Philippines, to provide early intervention and speech, physical, and occupational therapy for the members of the foundation.

Angel also met Angeline Feliciano, a loving and devoted mother of two toddler with Down Syndrome. It may be difficult for her and her partner then to accept the condition of their firstborn, yet they eventually learned to come to grips with it. Thus, when she knew that her second child also has the same disorder, she didn’t regret it and she saw her children as blessings from God. Although she didn’t deny how really challenging it is to raise children with special needs, especially that both of them have heart ailment and she already called it quits with his partner.

That’s why she’s grateful for the support her parents have been extending to her in raising her children. Being a member of the Down Syndrome Association of the Philippines, Inc. is also a great help as they received financial aid from the organization. When asked about her dream for her children, Angeline said that she only wants them to finish their studies and to be able to work in the future like other people do.

In order to help AngeIine and her kids, Iba ‘Yan gave her groceries, care package, vitamins, educational toys and package for her children, as well as a stroller for her youngest child. To also guide her in taking better care of them, the team connected her to Dr. Robina How-Dy for some formal development advice. Angeline was bestowed a sari-sari store package, too, to help her earn a living.

Angel also got the chance to meet Amy Alquiroz and his Down Syndrome-stricken son Renz. She admitted being worried at first as she imagined how life could be for her son given his condition, but that turned to gratitude as he grew up normally just like how other people do. In fact, Renz grew up with so much care and concern for the family. 

Despite his condition, he was the one who insisted on getting a job so that he can help his family and currently works in an electronics company as an all-around employee. Luis Harder, his employer, said that he gave him a shot because he believes that he possesses the ability to do the work. Besides, Luis can relate to the condition of Renz because he also has a kid who has the same condition.

In order to help their family, Iba ‘Yan gave Amy free check-up and medicines for her gallstones and a planetary mixer for the online pastry business of Renz and his siblings. Meanwhile, Renz was also bestowed a stationary bike and the latest ABS-CBN shirts as he imparted how he loves to workout and watch Kapamilya teleseryes. The mother-and-son tandem was also offered formal developmental advice through Dr. Joan Rirafael and medications for his thyroid problems.

May this episode didn’t only raise our awareness when it comes to Down Syndrome, but has also inspired us to continuously cultivate  genuine love, acceptance, support, and empathy towards people with special needs.