Plates, Purpose

PLATE & PURPOSE: Puzzle Gourmet Store & Cafe

What do I know about Autism or any developmental disabilities in general? I thought I had a clue. I don’t.

Today, I was educated.

Days Made Special in cooperation with Puzzle Gourmet Store and Cafe organized an event that every parent individual can benefit from – A Special Needs Parent’s guide to Onboarding. The event aimed to put together parents to explore early stages of raising a child with special needs and the intervention methods available in the country. There are two key players here you have to know more about. At the end of this entry, I will provide all the links to their pages.


One, Puzzle Gourmet Store and Cafe started off from a family’s love for their own, Jose. Jose is a differently-abled individual who finds comfort in seeing things organized. His family wanted an environment for him that is safe and accepting. Started first as a convenience store where he can do what he does best, organize things. Eventually, it blossomed into something else, a cafe with a bigger purpose.

Image from the Facebook page of Puzzle Gourmet Store and Cafe

Days Made Special is a personal blog of Jasmin Que where she shares parenting tips in raising a child with special needs. She uses this platform to raise acceptance and awareness and build a community that does the same.

Image from the Facebook page of Days Made Special

The event ran for three solid hours. Actually, it felt short given that there are so many things to know, especially from a clueless me. But the organizers reassured that questions can be raised via email and that there will be a follow through event.

Images from @puzzlecafeph

There were three speakers who shared their expertise and personal experiences.

Josephine Louise Flores – Jamero discussed the importance of early diagnosis and intervention. She showed a framework of how each key player come in and work together. She also stressed the importance of inclusion and acceptance. The mindset that celebrates the uniqueness in all of us should be the same mindset to use in accepting that they are no different and should therefore be treated like us.

Lyn Hazel D. Calawod, Founder and Managing Director of Neurobalance Philippines, talked about what’s available for the parents. She studied in Australia and brought back what she learned to the Philippines. She particularly introduced the concept of Hip Hop Dance Therapy to address the different needs of a differently-abled child. You will be amazed by the amount of information they could give you about your child after each session. This talk just stressed the importance of getting experts involved into the equation.

Czarina Maximo – Felix shared concepts and, more importantly, practical tips on Creating a Language-Enriched Environment. (Her son is adorable, by the way!)

While listening to the speakers and watching everyone else during this gathering, especially the families who were there with their own differently-abled kids, there was one thing I wished could happen. I wished everyone gets this kind of orientation. We all need this. It takes a society to build a child. It also takes the same to destroy the life of one.

Next is my sigh of frustration, where is our government in all of these?

I attended this event with a friend who has a child diagnosed with ASD. She was actually the reason I signed both of us up for this. I know of the struggle she had to go through in trying to seek professional help. Where to start? Who knows what to do? Can I afford this? What’s next? Shouldn’t there be some kind of guidance coming from my government? Is there? If you are reading this and you know an effort already in progress, please let me know so I can help share. My heart breaks even more for those parents who can’t even afford to get a diagnosis as step one.

Less than a month ago, I also met a colleague whose kid was recently diagnosed to have developmental delays. The same questions popped up. She expressed anxiety wanting to know people who go through the same to seek help. We know that the internet nowadays is a wealth of information. Most of our what-to-dos are a fingertip away. But I guess, in this case, we need more than just the information. We need a community.

Going back to my clueless self, I thought a subject in college was enough. When confronted with the realities – a face to the term, a sight of the whole family who go through it, words from an anxious mother new to the journey, a society who needs education, and a country who needs to do a better job at addressing it – perspectives change. Action becomes the next thing to do.

True to Puzzle Gourmet Store and Cafe’s tagline #PieceTogether, it looks like they got it all pieced together for us. Where to start?

Awareness. Let’s educate ourselves. I am not a parent but I know I don’t have to be to attend such events and causes. Read on. Utilize the net. Ask around. Look around.

Sensitivity. Terms like Autistic and Retards are not the words to use when expressing political disgust. These are real terms with real meanings that refer to real people and real stories that will humble us in a million ways.

Acceptance. Different minds, different perspectives. We are one.

Act. Do something. Share. Talk about it. Patronize fund-raising events that raise awareness. Anything.

Yes, we are all part of the puzzle. We are all part of this. We should all feel accountable to it. Let’s #PieceTogether

THANK YOU, Jas of Days Made Special for the education.

By the way, loved the food you served! I’d come back even just for that, Puzzle Gourmet Store and Cafe. I missed your Sign Language short class. Please hold another one!

Helpful links you may start with: 

Days Made Special: Website, Facebook Page
Puzzle Gourmet Store and Cafe: Facebook, Instagram

Neurobalance PH: Facebook Page
Autism Society Philippines: Facebook Page

Video: Dr. Temple Grandin’s The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum 

Note: All photos grabbed from both hosts of the event were permitted.

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