LAGOS – Wife of Ogun State Governor, Mrs Olufunsho Amosun, on Tuesday urged well-meaning Nigerians support autism awareness programmes, to reduce stigmatisation.
She made the plea at the second day of the annual autism seminar organised by the Orange Ribbon Initiative of Guaranty Trust Bank Plc in Lagos.
The programme is entitled: “On the Way to Future Inclusion”.
Amosun said, “Autism is a condition associated with a developmental anomaly.
“Since prenatal testing cannot detect autism and it has no cure, the way forward is to have all hands on deck.
“I am using this medium to call on well-meaning Nigerians to create awareness and make people realise that autism exist.
“This will reduce stigmatisation and increase support for those affected by the condition.”
She said that awareness programmes would also create platforms and opportunities for parents of autistic children to come out of hiding.
Amosun said that it would allow them to build a network with parents going through the same thing.
“Lots of people, particularly in African communities, do not understand developmental disorders and it is not unusual for people to look upon their autistic child as an attack by witchcraft.
“The GTBank awareness programme will go a long way to curb that kind of thinking.
“Parents of autistic children now have confidence to move forward because of the help, advice and support they gain from the people at the programme,” she said.
Also, an educationist, Dr Monica Hayes, said that integration of children with autism into the society would help them to live meaningful and productive lives.
Hayes said that people should not allow cultural beliefs and backgrounds to limit them in extending helping hands to children with autism.
She said, “Culture should not influence the way we see these children; they are special and should be accepted.
“Cultural competency is not simply an awareness of difference, but rather, ability to think, behave and value differences.”
In her comment, a speech therapist, Mrs Dotun Akande, said that parents should allow schools, mosques and churches to be well-informed about autism. (NAN)