Autism advocates call for transformative innovation

January 23, 2023


Youth on the autism spectrum have been working from home as data analysts since the pandemic under the Autism Society Philippines’s Autism Works program. These neurodiverse workers hail from all over the country -- Metro Manila, Laguna, Pampanga and Iloilo. 

Since ASP’s program began in 2016, this family support organization has made 250 positions available to job-ready youth on the autism spectrum, across various industries and job disciplines. “We have been very fortunate in our partner companies as we share their progressive disability-inclusive vision.” shares Mona Magno-Veluz, ASP National President. 

 inner_2_1430x526Participants of Autism OK Pilipinas Live held at SM Megamall Cinema 4

“We have partners like New York-based Daivergent which provide flexible work solutions. Our partnership with SM Markets enabled our program to scale across 11 provinces in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao,” Magno-Veluz adds. With the pandemic, the ASP seamlessly transitioned their support services, from face-to-face, to virtual, recognizing the need to adapt to the needs of those on the autism spectrum and the families who care for them.

 inner_4_1430x765ASP President Ms. Mona Veluz addressing the crowd during the AOK Live event

SM Supermalls SVP for Operations Engr. Bien Mateo is proud of their company’s long-standing culture of disability inclusiveness and adoption of global best practices in disability welfare. “The multi-awarded SM Cares program had its beginnings when a lost boy on the spectrum in SM Megamall sparked the need for disability education in our frontliners.” Disability sensitivity seminars are held twice a year for all of their 82 malls nationwide. Their mall tenants have also been inspired to hire workers on the autism spectrum — with Pancake House and Dohtonbori leading the charge.

The newly-installed NCDA OIC Atty. Baldr H. Bringas calls on duty-bearers from government agencies and rights-bearers from civil society organizations to drive innovative programs that will change lives. “We want persons on the autism spectrum and those with other disabilities to live with dignity, enjoy equal rights and access, function independently, and contribute productively.” He adds, ”Our society should strive beyond disability “consciousness” or “awareness”. We need action that will change lives.”

"Building a Nation Powered by Transformative Autism-Inclusive Innovation" is the theme of the 27th Philippine National Autism Consciousness Week. This annual observance is made possible by President Fidel Ramos' Proclamation 711 of 1996. The week is commemorated in national and local events.

inner_33_1430x765(L-R) Celebrity parents Candy Pangilinan, Troy Montero and Aubrey Miles, with ASP President Emeritus Dang Uy Koe

 inner_5_1430x765(L-R) Autism advocates Richard Caluyo of SM Cares, Hazel Borja of Leonard Cheshire Disability PH, Karen Sagun of QC Kabahagi for Children with Disabilities, and Mandaluyong City Councilor  Charisse Marie Abalos-Vargas, with ASP President Ms. Mona Veluz


The week’s highlight includes “AOK Pilipinas Live” a live talk show at the SM Megamall Cinema 4 on 20 January 2023 at 1pm. The event features best practices in autism support services in the public and private sectors and a candid chat with Aubrey Miles, Troy Montero and Candy Pangilinan — celebrities whose lives were profoundly touched by autism.


Media Contact:
Mona Magno-Veluz
National President
Autism Society Philippines


The Autism Society Philippines  (ASP)  is  a  national,  non-profit  organization working towards an environment that empowers persons on the autism spectrum to  become the  best  of  their potential -- self-reliant,  independent, productive  and  socially accepted members of an Autism-OK Philippines. ASP labors to establish institutional mechanisms to support neurodiverse persons and their families.  Established in 1989, the organization -- composed of 13,000 members spread over 100 chapters -- has been at the forefront of providing services to families and individuals on the autism spectrum.


The National Council on Disability Affairs is the national government agency mandated to formulate policies and coordinate the activities of all agencies, whether public or private, concerning disability issues and concerns. The NCDA is the lead agency tasked to steer the course of program development for persons with disabilities and the delivery of services to the sector.


SM Cares is the corporate social responsibility arm of SM Supermalls. It was launched in 2004 to organize sustainability and community support efforts, into a comprehensive program that tackles a wide range of initiatives. SM ensures that its CSR programs serve as catalyst for positive change for the community it serves.