Autism: The Filipino Experience
Dr. Alexis L. Reyes is the former president of the Philippine Society for Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, as well as, the Associate Professor of the Developmental Pediatrics department at the University of the Philippines. She was chosen to speak at ICare4Autism’s International Annual Conference in Jerusalem this month, to share her expertise on children in the Philippines who are on the autism spectrum. Dr. Reyes is considered to be the Philippines “leading Developmental Pediatrician,” according to the Autism Society Philippines (ASP). Her topic during the ICare4Autism’s conference was, Patterns and Outcomes in Autism-A 20 year Review of Filipino Children within the Spectrum. This study included mostly males and only fifteen percent of the participants were females. Dr. Reyes discovered that there is not a substantial amount of data regarding the prevalence of people with autism. The number of cases reported still does not paint an accurate picture of the population who are on the autism spectrum. This, she says is because it is still not being diagnosed. It is usually the parents who bring the issue to the attention of the doctors. In an article on MIMS.com, Dr. Reyes encourages doctors to “listen to the parents. Ninety percent of the time they are correct, although in some cases parents are in denial and the grandparents are the ones who express concern over their grandchild’s behavior.”
Currently, two hospitals in the Philippines, which include, the Philippine General Hospital and the Philippine Children’s Medical Center, have decided to establish a registry to keep a record of the number of incidences of autism. Having doctors who are able to detect early signs of autism is a vital key to ensuring that early intervention services can be delivered to those children. As a means to train more pediatricians on how to screen for autism, the Philippine Society for Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics provides workshops. Upon completion of these workshops, pediatricians will be able to administer the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT) screening, as well as the Pervasive Developmental Disorder Screening Test (PDDS).
Being able to screen children for autism is only the first step, however, after a child has been diagnosed it will take more than just the child’s pediatrician to help manage the child’s autism. Dr. Reyes believes that for the best possible management of the disorder the parents have to play a role, and they should also make sure that there is a therapist, psychologist and psychiatrist, in addition to the child’s pediatrician, on their team. She also believes that treatments like “social skills training, early intensive behavioral intervention, Treatment and Education of Autistic and related Communication handicapped Children (TEACCH)” are all effective treatments for autism. To hear Dr. Reyes speak about autism issues in the Philippines go to http://talkminer.com/viewtalk.jsp?videoid=rVcJtx7ow9U&q=#.UD4MAJgW9c8.