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PIA Press Release
2010/02/03

PGMA keynotes International Autism Forum

Manila (3 February) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is scheduled to be the Keynote Speaker during the opening ceremony of the three-day International Autism Conference on February 3, Wednesday, at the Philippine International Convention Center.

The first ever International Autism Conference in Manila which has as the honorary conference chairman the First Gentleman, Attorney Jose Miguel T. Arroyo, is sponsored by Autism Speaks, the world's largest autism science and advocacy organization.

Reaching out to the Asian autism community and organized by the Autism Hearts Foundation and Autism Hearts Philippines, the conference, is being co-sponsored by Autism Speaks with partners UC Davis M.I.N.D. Institute, Philippine Society for Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics and the Autism Society of the Philippines.

It is expected to gather together medical experts from around the world to present the most current research, knowledge and information on diagnosis, assessment and treatments of autism spectrum disorders ASD, as well as to review current policies to create a baseline from which to support individuals on the spectrum and their families.

The conference will also launch the Global Autism Public Health Initiative in the Philippines (GAPH Philippines), a partnership between the Autism Hearts Foundation and Autism Speaks.

The GAPH initiative is an innovative, integrated approach with partners worldwide that focuses on increasing public and professional awareness of ASD; increasing research expertise and international collaboration through training of autism researchers, with a focus on epidemiology, screening and early diagnosis, and treatment, and enhancing service delivery by providing training and expertise to service providers in early diagnosis and intervention.

Autism is a complex neurobiological disorder that inhibits a person's ability to communicate and develop social relationships, and is often accompanied by behavioral challenges. Autism spectrum disorders are diagnosed in one in 110 children in the United States, affecting four times as many boys as girls. The prevalence of autism increased 57 percent from 2002 to 2006. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have called autism a national public health crisis whose cause and cure remain unknown.

In the Philippines, it is estimated that 500,000 people have autism, but only 5 percent of them are diagnosed and only 2 percent receive the necessary medical attention. Ms. Christine Roa, executive director of Autism Hearts Philippines, Inc., said the event will serve as a forum for Filipinos to understand the ailment. (PIA 8) [top]

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