In its pursuit of an inclusive society, the Ateneo Special Education Society (Ateneo SPEED) organizes several events to get the outside community involved in the sector, and thereby spreading awareness about the cause.

We Can Do It!

In a study conducted by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, many Persons With Special Needs (PWSNs) believed that there are no work opportunities for them.

They are not wrong to think this way, for we do not often see PWSNs working as we do our daily coffee run, or when we are out malling with our families. According to the study, they lack the self-esteem to interact with other people when they work. But that is where the problem takes place. In order to encourage PWSNs to apply to work, we must show them that they are welcome, safe, and accepted to be in the workplace. In an effort to support this advocacy, Ateneo’s Special Education Society (SPEED) produced a project entitled: A Special Cafe where the org showcases their belief in PWSN employment.

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The photo was taken by Kylle Gaerlan

A Special Cafe or ASC for short is one of SPEED’s finance project aimed to show inclusivity and acceptance for PWSN workers and employees. It was set in Colayco Pavilion initially the whole week of March 19, 2018, but due to the suspension of classes, the project started on the 2oth of March and ended on the 23rd. Here, the Ateneo Community was able to buy and order coffee and pastries just like how they would in a regular cafe. But knowing SPEED, they created the cafe with special twists like giving it a classy European theme, where one was greeted by the flags of European countries, tables lined with the iconic red and white plaid and paper flower centerpieces, and when there wasn’t a live performance by invited student musicians, the ears were greeted with romantic European songs.

But of course, it wouldn’t be as special without the stars of ASC: the volunteers from Puzzle Cafe. The Puzzle Cafe, situated in Project 4, Quezon City, is a family-owned cafe that was built for their son, Jose, who has autism. Jose along with his other PWSN co-workers are able to hone and practice their social skills here by serving customers.

Photo taken by: Kylle Gaerlan

The photo was taken by Kylle Gaerlan

Both Puzzles Cafe and ASC provide an opportunity for PWSNs to showcase their potential to work and exercise their right to work just like everyone else.

Customers would find themselves with not only good food and coffee but also contributing to spread awareness for PWSNs because of their support for the project. Through efforts like these, PWSNs in the workplace are empowered and outsiders who haven’t experienced PWSNs in the workplace are presented with opportunities to change their perceptions about people with special needs, highlighting what they can do instead of what they can’t. Here is what we can do and here is where we stand for PWSN employment.

Source: Employment of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) in the Philippines: The Case of Metro Manila and Rosario, Batangas [PDF]. (2013, January). Makati: Philippine Institute of Developmental Studies. Retrieved from https://dirp4.pids.gov.ph/ris/dps/pidsdps1313.pdf
Written by Brianna Cayetano, 1 AB Communication, an Aquarius defined by emotion and social constructs.

Stop the Stigma Now! Speak Out!

Down Syndrome is the most common chromosome disorder in the world.

Many people across the world are diagnosed with Down Syndrome, a disorder in which an extra copy of chromosome 21 exists in a person. Down Syndrome is the most common chromosome disorder in the world, and it has a rapid increase in many countries, the US included (US National Down Syndrome Society, 2018). Down Syndrome is a condition with physical and cognitive impairments/differences, including but not limited to decreased or poor muscle tone, flattened facial profile and nose, small head, ears, and mouth, as well as slow learning, poor judgment, and delay in language and speech development. Additionally, most Down Syndrome children develop necessary communication for skills although development takes longer compared to that in typical children (Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, n.d.).

With that, people across the world tend to stigmatize people with Down Syndrome. Instead of looking at the bright side of the latter, the former tends to treat them as an out-group deserving disgrace, view their differences negatively, and use derogatory labels like “retardate” or “mongoloid”. It’s saddening because the society fails to realize that in spite of the disabilities and handicaps that come with Down Syndrome, those persons with Down syndrome are no less than other people who do not have it. People with Down syndrome deserve acceptance and respect for who they are, simply because they are people.


In order to stop the stigma, Ateneo SPEED is geared towards advocating for inclusivity towards PWSNs has its respective means of promoting a positive attitude towards individuals with Down Syndrome. In celebration of Down Syndrome Consciousness month, the organization held the Speak Out campaign booth last February 14-15 in order to promote the understanding, awareness, and inclusion of people with Down Syndrome. The two-day event was held at the Zen Garden. Ateneans pledged and made oaths in order to show the willingness to talk to others about Down Syndrome. They also had an option to donate a minimum of 20 pesos for the organization and they got pins showing advocacy for Down Syndrome as a token of appreciation. Sometimes, SPEED members manning the booths would provide pledgers with videos about Down Syndrome.


The project has done its part in encouraging the Ateneo community to talk about Down Syndrome in a more understanding, respectful, and compassionate way.

The second Speak Out project of the year is a step towards de-stigmatizing people with Down Syndrome and promoting an inclusive society for them. The project has done its part in encouraging the Ateneo community to talk about Down Syndrome in a more understanding, respectful, and compassionate way. All the members of this project, especially the project head and publicity head of SPEED, Junie Angeles,  were able to fulfill their responsibilities in keeping it aligning the goal of the project towards SPEED’s movement towards inclusivity. Hopefully, advocacy for Down Syndrome and all other types of special needs remains long-term and worldwide. With that said, I’d like to close this article with the hopes that people across the world will further build the inclusive society persons with special needs are looking for.

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Written by Mia Geronimo, 3 AB Interdisciplinary Studies, a girl with a heart of gold.


Down Syndrome Facts | National Down Syndrome Society. (2018). Retrieved February 24, 2018, from https://www.ndss.org/about-down-syndrome/down-syndrome-facts/

What are common symptoms of Down syndrome? (n.d.). Retrieved March 16, 2018, from https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/down/conditioninfo/symptoms

Sprout: Growing towards Inclusivity

Access to therapy in the Philippines is limited.

According to project head Addi Lapus’ research and insights, despite therapy being recommended to be a frequent visitor, an average cost for one session an hour would range from P800 – P1000. In addition to the expense, there also seems to be a lack of therapists as there are a number of them that are either not accredited, working abroad, or did not pass. Addi adds, “Kung dito nga sa Maynila, nahihirapan na yung mga tao, paano na kaya yung mga na sa probinsiya?” . Because of the awareness of limited therapy, SPEED partnered with Therafree, an program of University of the Philippines College of Allied Medical Professions Alumni Association that provides free therapy to Filipinos with disabilities, and hosted a new project called Sprout, last February 10, 2018.

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According to project head Aya Yuzon, “Sprout is a new SPEED advocacy project that aims to provide free consultation with therapists and home therapy training for the parents and / or guardians of PWSNs who do not have access to affordable rehabilitation services under occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech pathology. This project also aims to provide the families of the community with a support group to help them cope with the difficulties of raising children with special needs.”

Days before the event, we invited our partner communities from Krus na Ligas, Saint Francis, Cottolengo Filipino, Sacred Heart, and Servants of Charity. The preparation for Sprout was thorough as the heads would constantly remind every department of their jobs and responsibilities through general assemblies and individual consultations. When February 10, 2018 finally arrived, every SPEED volunteer worked beyond their departmental duties, going beyond their requirements and expectations.

The SPEED volunteers were two hours earlier than the beginning of the event. They prepared everything from fixing the patients’ records to setting up a small arts activity area for our guests. When the PWSNS and their families started arriving, SPEED members would first lead them to a table for registration then bring them to seats in preparation for a talk.

As the speaker discussed about the realities PWSNs face and shared advice families may apply to their situations, one by one, the doctors were calling PWSNs and their families to be assessed before they meet with their therapists. The whole afternoon then was dedicated for them to meet with their designated therapists from Therafree. In their one-on-one sessions, the therapists assessed each one of the PWSNs by talking to them and their families. Before finishing their turns, they were given handouts and worksheets that could help them work on their areas of difficulty. As each consultation came to an end, families left with smiles on their faces and positive feedback.


Sprout serves as an avenue for people to know more about this issue on the restricted accessibility of therapy for PWSNs.

Sprout encourages positive change that aims to help PWSNs in response to the limited therapy availability in the Philippines, highlighting the current lack of medical provision of the government in the PWSN sector. Sprout serves as an avenue for people to know more about this issue on the restricted accessibility of therapy for PWSNs, while also sending out a message for people to respond and be part of the advocacy. Through this, SPEED shows its solidarity with the sector it seeks to serve through concrete efforts to respond to the issues that the sector faces.


Written by Kimberly Robles, 2 AB Social Sciences, a small curly haired girl with a passion to help.

Reaching Out by Design with Spectrum 2017

“Stars are made for public light shows, consider how the night sky
enriches their glow!” — Tracey Bond

From October 23 to 27, the Ateneo Special Education (SPEED) held Its annual SPEED Week event. Among the many booths lined along LS Promenade for the week was Spectrum, one of Ateneo SPEED’s fundraising project intended to promote artwork created by persons with special needs (PWSNs).

A pair of Spectrum volunteers promoting the merchandise

A pair of Spectrum volunteers promoting the merchandise

If you were passing by the area, you would likely be approached by one of many eager roving promoters for the event, likely holding up a poster featuring a sampling of the various items available for purchase at Spectrum. If their impassioned spiel endorsing the booth and the spirit of advocacy it embodied was enough to convince you, they’d lead you on to the booth so you could see the merchandise for yourself. Upon reaching the Neverland-themed booth you’d see various shirts, caps, and stickers hanging around the display racks, as well as paintings featuring similar artworks by PWSNs hanging on an exhibit next to the booth. You could then take your pick among the designs if any one of them caught your fancy, with each one featuring the name of the talented PWSN artist behind the design.


Some of the shirts that were being sold during Spectrum

Some of the shirts that were being sold during Spectrum

This year, Spectrum really expanded the scope of merchandise offered to its buyers and promoted the organization’s advocacy with clothing featuring creative artworks as well as witty and meaningful statements promoting the message of SPEED. The selection of goods proved to be a hit among customers, many of whom pre-ordered the items that they personally felt were relevant to them. Overall, Spectrum succeeded in promoting SPEED’s advocacy for this year’s SPEED Week and will hopefully keep continuing to do so for the years to come.


Written by: Miguel Luis A. Vasallo, MA Psychology

Speak Out 2017: A Pledge Worth Your Attention

To genuinely know persons with AD/HD

Becoming hyperfocused. Having constant spurts of energy. Being impulsive and spontaneous. Those are some facts that about Attention Deficit / Hyperactive Disorder (AD/HD), a special condition that is spotlighted in SPEED’s Speak Out pledge week this year.

This year’s Speak Out aims to raise awareness about the AD/HD sector within the Ateneo community. By pledging in the booth (and the optional decision to donate money to SPEED’s partner institutions), Ateneans were encouraged to know more people about AD/HD, to understand their needs as people, to look beyond their condition and to embrace and love them as part of a larger happy, inclusive society.

Vice-President for Apostolate Girrard Sanchez with Carlo from Servants of Charity (one of SPEED’s partner institutions)

Vice-President for Apostolate Girrard Sanchez with Carlo from Servants of Charity (one of SPEED’s partner institutions)

In addition to the pledge booth, SPEED posted several fun facts about the AD/HD community in their Facebook page. Junie Angeles, project head of Speak Out Campaign 1, hopes that the project encourages Ateneans to be more aware about AD/HD, and to become advocates for the sector by being more knowledgeable about the condition of AD/HD.

Speak Out Project head, Junie Angeles

Speak Out Project head, Junie Angeles

“I decided to head Speak Out for this year because I wanted to give back to the organization who has taught me so much,” reflected Angeles. “This project is my way of putting the organization out there in the Ateneo community, where there is still ongoing discrimination towards the people with special needs (PWSN) sector. This project also highlights what our advocacy is all about: raising awareness and creating advocates towards a more inclusive society.”

SPEED President Alimee Pagulayan hopes that Speak Out will encourage more initiatives to support persons will AD/HD and other PWSNs within the Ateneo. “Whether it’s a personal form of support, such as genuinely getting to know persons with ADHD, or a structural form of support done by the university to accommodate PWSNs, we hope that people would see the need for it and be able to do something about it,” she expressed.


Written by: Joel Anthony Lim, 4 AB Interdisciplinary Studies