He is joined in this interview by his beautiful wife, Atty Weena Kapunan, who fills in the details of their son’s condition during the early phase, since Atty. Adel was taking up his Masters in Law in Harvard at the time of the diagnosis.
“The very first thing I noticed was that Santi lost eye contact,” Atty. Weena recalls of their first-born. “When Santi was a baby he was a very responsive baby, and then by the time he turned two, he just wasn’t responding to me anymore. It’s like he regressed, and I was wondering why. Some of my friends were saying, ‘nami-miss lang nyan si Adel’. I asked a cousin and told her that I’m a bit concerned with Santi, but they were saying, wala yan, and for my part wala naman akong basis for comparison”.
“When I told Adel this, he would watch the videos he took with him of Santi and reassure me, ‘he’s perfectly normal’, then I’d tell him, ‘no, he’s changed’. I brought him to the doctor, who confirmed my fears. Santi was diagnosed with PDDNOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified). Now they call it Autism Spectrum Disorder”.
Atty. Adel admits that when his wife broke the news to him, he went through a period of denial, anger, and the rest of the Kubler-Ross stages of grief. “Whenever you have a child you dream that he or she will possess all the best qualities of the greatest personalities who ever lived, maybe a mixture of Jesus Christ, Michael Jordan, Brad Pitt, Albert Einstein, etc. But when your son is diagnosed with autism, you lose all of those. However, I think that because I was away in Boston at that time and pagbalik ko, nandun na yung diagnosis, it was not that difficult to accept anymore. I’m a very fatalistic person e, what can you do, nandyan na yan? We just had to do the best that we could since that’s the diagnosis. But perhaps it was Weena who carried that heavy load at that time and she made it easier for me.”
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