Posted by Andy Shih, Autism Speaks senior vice president of scientific affairs. On Sept. 24th, Dr. Shih participated in "A Conversation with the Filipino-American Community about Autism,” with Autism Speaks Associate Director of Public Health Research Michael Rosanoff and Assistant Director of Public Health Research Amy Daniels.
This week, Autism Speaks and the Autism Hearts Foundation joined with the Philippine Consulate of New York to host a special forum on autism in the Filipino-American community. The Autism Hearts Foundation has become a very special partner to Autism Speaks, as a member of our Global Autism Advocacy Leadership Network.
Working through the Philippine’s New York consulate, we reached out to Filipino families, doctors, therapists and community leaders throughout the city. Those who responded were welcomed by the Honorable Consul General Mario De Leon Jr.
Erlinda Borromeo, of the Autism Hearts Foundation, described her organization’s work addressing the needs of children and teens with autism in both the Philippines and San Francisco’s Filipino-American community. This forum, she explained, was the foundation’s first outreach to Filipino-Americans outside San Francisco.
Amy Daniels and I described how Autism Speaks would be honored to work with the Filipino-American community and the Philippine government.
I spoke about our Global Autism Public Health initiative, and Amy discussed our Early Access to Care campaign. These two programs share the goal of helping communities develop culturally sensitive and locally appropriate autism programs. Both initiatives place special emphasis on meeting the needs of underserved communities.
Our role is to support a community’s leadership by bringing information and expertise, I explained. We are here to support their families, autism advocates and professionals and other stakeholders. Only by directly engaging families and civic leaders can we help identify their priorities and develop solutions that will be embraced, owned and sustained by the community.
By way of example, Amy described our pioneering work with New York City’s Korean-American community. (More on Autism Speaks Korean Community Project here.)
The panel discussion that followed proved productive. We listened as the participants agreed that their community’s immediate and primary need was to address autism stigma and lack of awareness. They saw these as the central barriers preventing their community from fully using available services.
Going forward, we agreed that Autism Speaks would work with the Autism Hearts Foundation and New York’s Philippine Consulate to begin the work of enhancing autism awareness in New York City’s Filipino-American community. The first step will be to form a community advisory board to guide our collaboration.
We wish to thank the foundation and the consulate for inviting us. We look forward to a productive partnership that yields benefits that extend far beyond New York and the Filipino-American community.