Discussion Meeting Conducted by “From the Margins to the Mainstream of Society” Research Team

image 1Members of the Unilab Foundation-funded project “From the Margins to the Mainstream of Society: Transforming the Lives of Workers with Exceptionality, Their Co-Workers, Business, Corporate Practices, Policies and the Workplace” held a discussion meeting with stakeholders on May 13, 2014 at the European Documentation Center of the Henry Sy, Sr. Hall. Headed by project director Dr. Robert Javier of the College of Liberal Arts Department of Psychology, the meeting was held with stakeholders to present the study’s findings and to determine whether the Philippine environment—namely the legal, social, work, business and industry sectors—is ready for inclusion.

Findings in the study’s four components were presented by respective members of the team. Psychology Department faculty member Dr. Ron Resurreccion spoke on the Clinical component, in which data from FGDs revealed observed improvements in the Persons with Exceptionality (PWE)s’ adaptive functioning, specifically in the areas of socialization and communication.

SDRC Director Dr. Melvin Jabar presented findings in the Developmental component, in which it was determined that relationships in the workplace matter, that co-workers must be made aware of the person with exclusivity (PWE)’s clinical condition, and that both PWEs and neurotypical co-workers need to adjust in order for their business or company to attain higher levels of productivity.

Speaking on the Business component, Dr. Raymund Habaradas of the Management and Organization Department of the DLSU College of Business relayed that barriers must be broken and space must be expanded to accommodate PWEs, and that there is a need to work with special schools, media, the educational system, and company/business customers in order to break these barriers.

Lastly, CLA Research and Advanced Studies Director Dr. Feorillo Demeterio III presented findings in the Policy component, in which it was established that while companies employing Filipinos with Autism Spectral Disorder and Down Syndrome are worthy of praise, all sectors need to be involved in order to accommodate differently-abled Filipinos and to include them as functioning members of the community.

Stakeholders raised pertinent questions and provided insights based on the presentations. Among their concerns were the problem of self-stigma on the part of the PWE and the stigma of parents of PWEs; the need to find employment for PWE students who are trained for the workplace, as well as the need to inform government agencies and companies that PWEs can be hired; the need to inform companies of the economic advantages of hiring PWEs; the importance of job coaches in assisting PWEs in the workplace; the need for job designs that are specific to exceptionality; and the need to recognize the legal mandate providing tax incentives for employing PWEs.

The discussion meeting was attended by Unilab Foundation Executive Director Rhodora Fresnedi and Project Manager Grant Javier;  Learning Center Executive Director Yolanda Bautista and Interim Program Coordinator Joyce Romero;  and representatives of the National Council of Disability Affairs, the Autism Society of the Philippines, the People Management Association of the Philippines, the Stepping Stone Learning Center, the Ateneo de Manila University Department of Psychology, and parents of the subjects of the study. 

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