The Founder, Patrick Speech and Language Centre, Lagos, Mrs. Dotun Akande, who has a son living with autism, has said in an online interview with our correspondent that people living with autism can lead to meaningful lives and hold paid jobs with early intervention.
She has therefore, called on government to provide grants to centres where people living with the condition can access therapy and care.
According to her, with an early exposure to therapy, autistic children can lead an independent life and undergo vocational training, saying that when you intervene at an early age, they tend to do well in the future. We have three of them in our employment earning salaries. This speaks volumes in an environment where people hardly believe that they can thrive. We long for a Nigeria where every child born with autism and other speech and developmental problems will be able to access the professional help they need and, indeed, deserve.’’
Akande has added that autistic individuals were prone to depression because they were often misunderstood. She urged Nigerians to show understanding and love to people living with the condition. “Because our children have no physical disability, they tend to be neglected. Those who have mild autism sometimes suffer from depression in the future because they are misunderstood. For others with more severe autism, they are prevented from going out because of their challenging behavior.
She has also said that there have been times when we feel we have tried everything to help the individual and we are about to give up then a small light begins to shine that you never thought could happen. Like a 17-year- old learning to play the piano in just six months. “Government and philanthropists can offer support by providing grants to centres such as ours to support families struggling to support their children due to the fact the treatment is expensive,’’

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