AUTISM & CARE FOR SPECIAL CHILDREN
According to the world health organization, one in every 160 has an autism spectrum disorder. While some people with the disorder can live independently, others have severe disabilities and require lifelong care and support. World Autism Day is observed on the second of April every year for raising awareness on autism. But today, Wemimo Adewuni and Sheriff Quadri take a look at autism in a bid to identify what it really is and how it could be dealt with.
Mr. Bidemi Yinusa says “autism is a neurological disorder that affects the side of the brain that controls speech, behavior, and interactions with others. A child with autism is physically okay. No one can by seemingly looking at them determine if they have a challenge. You need to move closer and observe the children to see that those things are missing. In our culture, parents of a child who didn’t talk until after two years will ignore the issue and even tell others that they themselves didn’t talk early during their childhood. Some will keep on praying to God to let the child start talking.
“Autistic children like to do things their own way. They don’t like to have anything to do with anyone. They love to put things in the order which they prefer and if these things are changed or moved from the same location, they disapprove of that move and try to move the things back to the location they prefer. Some will even tell the parents that they have failed in controlling their children and they do that because they are not aware that the child is suffering from autism.
“Most people start to notice that something is wrong when the child’s speech is not as intelligent as the speech of children of his age group. Other signs that show there is a problem is that the child will arrange things in a particular way all the time, hold things firmly in his palms without letting, and he fails to interact with others, as mentioned already. What will guide parents? They should ask themselves questions when the child is about six months old. Questions such as is my child crawling? Is he babbling? These questions are very crucial. If you say yes to any of these questions, then you should be worried.”
Yinusa says that until now, there is no known cause of autism. But people are coming with different ideas, referring to genetics, hereditary, environment, or vaccines as the cause of autism. That vaccines may cause autism is still an issue for debate. A school of thought really believes that vaccines used on a pregnant mother may later be responsible for autism in a new-born child. However, this idea has not been scientifically proven and no one should hold on to the idea as if it is true.
Referring to types of autism, Yinusa says there is mild and severe autism. The child affected may have some good behavior but will still hold back from interacting. In other words, he does not possess all the symptoms mentioned earlier. But the child with severe autism possesses all symptoms. Another symptom is that the child may not speak until pushed to do so.
In these cases, what should parents do? Yinusa encourages parents to start asking questions when at the age of one their child does not seem to be acting normal like other children do. They should begin visiting healthcare centres and taking a series of tests to identify what the real issue is. Yet, the matter goes more than that. The main question is what can Nigeria do to make people with special needs feel more accepted and better cared for?
Click the video below to watch the Mr Bidem Yinusa - Head of school Patrick Speech and Languages Centre Ikeja and Joyce Onafowokan - Former Special Adviser on Social Development to the immediate past administration, Lagos State on the show. They discus a whole range of issues attached to autism in Nigeria.
Morning Crossfire with Wemimo Adewuni (@wemimospot) & Sheriff Quadry (@SheriffQuadry), alongside Rotimi Sankore (@RotimiSankore)
Written by Jude Chukwuemeka