“I was in denial,” Atty. Weena admits. “When I brought Santi to the office and friends were asking what the findings were, I told them that the diagnosis is not yet complete, because in my head that’s what I made myself believe. The following day when I met with the doctor, I asked, ‘Are you sure that it’s really PDDNOS?’ I could tell that the doctor was having such a hard time making me see. He said, ‘Yes, I’m sure,’ and that was the only time it became real.”
“Everyone was sympathetic, but I noticed that apart from those, nobody was talking about it. Belatedly, I found out that the child of one of my good friends at the bank where I worked was also diagnosed with the same thing, and I only found out by accident. We were discussing what medicines we could reimburse as officers of the bank, and when I mentioned that my son has autism, she said that it’s not the same with her because her son has PDDNOS, and I wanted to say, ‘well that’s exactly what my son has.’”
“I am very open about my son’s condition and I don’t want people to be uncomfortable about the topic, but people were not talking about it because may stigma pa din. Every time I speak to parents, I tell them that if they want society to accept their child, they have to educate people. How will that happen if they seem to be ashamed? They say, no, I’m not ashamed, it’s just that there’s a stigma. I say, that’s exactly it, we parents are creating the stigma ourselves.”
“I also found out that a lot of my friends were in the same boat, or knew of people who were in the same boat. I have parents coming up to me saying, ‘I’m gonna tell you this only because I know your son also has it, but swear to secrecy that you won’t tell anyone.’ I respect it that you don’t want people to know, but I wonder why. Kasi the more you don’t talk about it, the more that people don’t understand what it’s about. Like when you’re in a mall and the child will start to shout and cry. If people aren’t aware about your situation they will think the child is a brat and that you are a bad parent. And I used to be that way when I was single, but now, my perspective has changed.”
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