POLITICS

AUTISM: BEYOND THE STIGMA_Ada Nkong

You are at an eatery with a play center and other children are playing happily having the time of their lives, except for this lone kid who is either sitting all by himself or tightly held on to by his Mother. She doesn’t want him to embarrass her, so he is kept under close watch, sometimes even locked in a corner with a guard.

Welcome to the world of children living with autism!

The MD Princess and Prince autism center Apo , Mrs Nkabe Odey ,after a charity walk to mark the world autism month spoke to our correspondent about the challenge.

“Unfortunately the level of awareness in Nigeria is still very low. Most times, you see people who are educated, even people in the medical profession who don’t know what autism is.”

As to how the government is supporting advocacy for autism she says, so far very little support is coming from that direction.

“The government should come out to support any foundation or effort in tackling autism challenges.”

” In line with this years theme, Assistive technology for increased participation,we don’t want people to be left out. We want the government to provide those technology and make it affordable or subsidized. We have technology that has to do with communication, hearing and all of that”

Addressing parents with autistic children she reaffirmed ,” autism is not a disease, it is not the end of the world. They should try and meet with other parents who have autistic children that are doing well, to share ideas.”

“With the right approach and intervention the kids will turn out right and be independent.”

Mrs Odey appealed to society to change the narrative about autism ” children with autism should be treated like other neurotypical kids. Say no to Stigmatization, say no to discrimination,say no to abuse,love them, empathize with them and support them.

Autism expresses itself before age three with signs like inability to blab at 12 months or say words like daddy, no eye contact, no response to emotions like smiles,lack of social skills or ability to play with other kids.

April 2 each year is set aside as world autism day while the whole month is earmarked for advocacy to raise awareness about Autism.

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