Life & Leisure

Calel’s Wacky Art Shirts: Spreading Autism Awareness and Acceptance, 1 Shirt at a Time

Autism Spectrum Disprder (ASD) is a condition at affects roughly 1 million people in the Philippines according to the Autism Speaks Foundation here in Manila. Even though it affects a significant part of the population, we still have limited understanding about it. People think it is an illness to be cured or feared. As a result, many children may not be diagnosed early and get much needed support and therapy. Other children may also suffer from abuse and maltreatment because their loved ones do not know much about their condition.

April is actually World Autism Month, with April 2 as World Autism Awareness Day. Take a look at beautiful and inspiring stories of children and adults  with autism all over the world through this mosaic.

Note: This post is for informational purposes only. It is not meant to diagnose or treat and should not take the place of personal consultation, as appropriate, with a qualified healthcare professional and/or behavioral therapist.

What is ASD?

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is not a single condition but a range of conditions that have core symptoms. Every person with autism has problems to some degree with social interaction, communication, empathy and flexible behavior.

How do I know if someone has ASD?

According to Autism Speaks, an international organization dedicated to promoting acceptance and understanding of individuals with autism,  the following signs and symptoms suggest a child is at risk for autism. This means if your child has these, he or she may or may not have autism but needs further evaluation.

Possible signs of autism in babies and toddlers:

  • By 6 months, no social smiles or other warm, joyful expressions directed at people
  • By 6 months, limited or no eye contact
  • By 9 months, no sharing of vocal sounds, smiles or other nonverbal communication
  • By 12 months, no babbling
  • By 12 months, no use of gestures to communicate (e.g. pointing, reaching, waving etc.)
  • By 12 months, no response to name when called
  • By 16 months, no words
  • By 24 months, no meaningful, two-word phrases
  • Any loss of any previously acquired speech, babbling or social skills

Possible signs of autism at any age:

  • Avoids eye contact and prefers to be alone
  • Struggles with understanding other people’s feelings
  • Remains nonverbal or has delayed language development
  • Repeats words or phrases over and over (echolalia)
  • Gets upset by minor changes in routine or surroundings
  • Has highly restricted interests
  • Performs repetitive behaviors such as flapping, rocking or spinning
  • Has unusual and often intense reactions to sounds, smells, tastes, textures, lights and/or 

To understand and help people with Autism, Autism Speaks has a number of  resource tool kits which you can readily access through their website.

Calel and His Wacky Shirts

Meet Calel, he is a 6-year old who was diagnosed with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) at the age of four. A year ago, he discovered his love for animals and drawing and once he starts on a sketch pad he just cannot stop – his mother Marie, the spirited beauty and parenting blogger at Mamaneesnest, started posting his artwork on Facebook, when a friend commented that if in the case the drawing is produced to be printed on a t-shirt – he definitely would buy.

After a few months, Marie launched Calel’s Wacky Art Shirts for 3 reasons: to help with Calel’s therapy needs, to develop the business to eventually be taken over by Calel (when he gets older) and to spread Autism awareness.

Anybody would know that Occupational and Speech therapy is costly, plus there are limited specialists in the Philippines. Kids with ASD need to attend SPED (Special Education) classes which can cost up to 60,000Php a year. For every shirt purchased, this will help Calel’s parents to make sure he gets the special treatments that he needs.

Calel’s future is still unclear at the age of 6, he shows signs of progress but it is hard to tell if he will be able to live a normal life or yet alone become employed, if this becomes a success, Calel’s Wacky Art Shirts may become his own business to handle.

With the first batch of t-shirts printed and distributed, people that order have started to ask about Calel and his condition – this helps Marie to talk about Autism and educate them on what Calel and their parents experience day-to-day including the highs and low.

There are so many designs to choose from and each is unique which you will surely love. T-shirt’s come in kids, men and women’s sizes.

Calel’s Wacky Art Shirts are being offered at introductory prizes for the first 100 customers.

Please visit their Instagram account for updates and designs:

You may help calel by purchasing a shirt through their shoppee account:

They are also accepting donations for art materials like sketch pads, crayons, colored pencils and pens.

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