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  • Mom Whose Son Has Autism: 'Ang Kailangan Nila ay Pang-Unawa at Hindi Awa'

    The mom wrote a children's book to raise awareness for her son’s condition.
    by Kate Borbon .
Mom Whose Son Has Autism: 'Ang Kailangan Nila ay Pang-Unawa at Hindi Awa'
PHOTO BY Courtesy of Charina Sayas-Regollo
  • Autism can be difficult for some to understand, not only for parents but perhaps more so for kids. Many of us do not know how to interact with kids who are under the spectrum. They are seen as “strange” or “weird” because they act in ways that are different from what is typically seen as "normal." A new children’s storybook hopes to teach kids (and their parents) that a child who is different needs our understanding and empathy.

    Written by mom Charina Sayas-Regollo, the book Iba Si Ben follows a young boy named Charles and his curiosity about a boy he goes to school with named Ben. Charles notices that Ben does unusual things, such as walking on his tiptoes, always arranging his toys in a single line, and constantly spinning around.

    Out of curiosity, Charles tells his parents about Ben and asks them why Ben is different. Charles’ parents tell him that Ben is a child with autism. They teach him that Ben is “a gift, wrapped in a special way,” and children like him should be treated with understanding and respect because they often find it difficult to communicate with and relate to others.

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    A “love project”

    The book culls from the experience of the author, who is a mom of three boys, one of whom is Liam who has been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Like most parents with kids in the spectrum, Charina and her husband Russ made extensive research on ASD to provide their son with the best interventions possible.

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    Iba Si Ben is the fruit of a collaboration of efforts from the entire family.
    PHOTO BY Courtesy of Charina Sayas-Regollo

    The book, which Charina describes as a "love project," hopes to raise more awareness of how to view and treat kids who are under the spectrum. “The purpose of the book is to create awareness and understanding that kids under the autism spectrum have challenges or differences in milestones and behaviors,” Mommy Cha tells SmartParenting.com.ph. “But just like any other kid, despite their differences, they are still gifts that should be cherished and loved.”

    Influence from real life

    Many of the situations depicted in the book were largely influenced by real difficulties that Liam encountered and continue to face.

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    Mommy Cha dedicates Iba Si Ben to her son Liam, who has autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
    PHOTO BY Courtesy of Charina Sayas-Regollo

    Charina shares, “A lot of the heart of this book came from and was influenced by my son’s journey and his current challenge of finding friends who will accept him.”

    “In the book, several characteristics considered as common indicators of autism were illustrated on the first few pages. My son manifested some of them in his early years like the lining up of toys, spinning and walking on tiptoes. Meanwhile other indicators mentioned in the book were gathered from research and actual observations of other kids under the spectrum.”

    Iba Si Ben was created with the help of other members of the family, particularly Liam's eldest brother Thomas Gian, who made the illustrations for the book.

    The book's cover
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    Charina's eldest son Gian created the illustrations for the book.
    PHOTO BY Courtesy of Charina Sayas-Regollo

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    Another look at the lovely illustrations in Iba Si Ben.
    PHOTO BY Courtesy of Charina Sayas-Regollo

    According to Charina, the process of working on Iba Si Ben with her family truly helped solidify their bond with one another. “It was healing, it was enlightening, it was powerful,” she says. “The book made my family stronger, and it built a sense of solidarity in our commitment to always be there for our Liam and to be his voice.”

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    A valuable lesson

    Autism spectrum disorder is a condition that can be quite tricky to understand, since its manifestations and symptoms vary in each child. However, books like Iba Si Ben, which shed light on the condition and the experiences of kids who live with it, can help immensely in making our kids more aware and, hopefully, more understanding.

    The heartwarming story of Iba Si Ben is anchored in a simple message Charina hopes readers —children and parents alike — will pick up: “Knowledge is key to understanding and acceptance. Our compassion towards [children under the spectrum] can greatly help them live better and happier lives.”

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    Mommy Cha describes Liam as a joyful child who always finds the good in everything.
    PHOTO BY Courtesy of Charina Sayas-Regollo

    Finally, by reading Iba Si Ben, kids are taught a valuable lesson about kids who live with different types of developmental disorders, not just ASD. “Though they may require special attention, children with special needs should be treated with acceptance and respect just like any other child,” Mommy Cha says. “They should not be pitied but rather be treated with empathy. Ang kailangan nila ay pang-unawa at hindi awa.”

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    Iba Si Ben is independently published and distributed by The Rotary Club of General Santos City as part of their Autism Awareness and Acceptance project. To get a copy of Iba Si Ben, send a message to The Rotary Club of General Santos City on Facebook.

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