“Autists are the ultimate square pegs, and the problem with pounding a square peg into a round hole is not that the hammering is hard work. It’s that you’re destroying the peg.”
Do you remember ever meeting someone with a distinct seemingly reflex range of interactive behaviours or patterns? If yes, then you have likely met someone with a condition known as ‘autism’.
What Is Autism?
Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication. Because autism is a spectrum disorder, each person with autism has a distinct set of strengths and challenges. Some people with ASD may require significant support in their daily lives, while others may need less support and, in some cases, live entirely independently.
Indicators of autism usually appear by age 2 or 3. Some associated development delays can appear even earlier, and often, it can be diagnosed as early as 18 months. Research shows that early intervention leads to positive outcomes later in life for people with autism.
In 2013, the American Psychiatric Association merged four distinct autism diagnoses into one umbrella diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). They included: Autistic Disorder, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, Pervasive Developmental Disorder and Asperger’s Syndrome.
Why World Autism Day?
Globally, autism is said to be increasing, so much so that as at 2015, the number of people with autism already stood at 24.8 million. This probably influenced the United Nations when it declared 2nd April every year as World Autism Day on December 18 2007, so as to increase people’s awareness about people, especially children, with autism.
In light of this, on World Autism Day this year, we place the spotlight on some organisations in Nigeria, who actively initiate awareness and education towards autism and people with in the society.
IKE FOUNDATION FOR AUTISM (IFA)
IFA collaborates with other agencies to create Autism Awareness and advocate for Autism courses in Nigeria through Seminars and workshops. They have put a laudable strategy in place towards achieving this; including:
- Providing Nigeria-Specific Awareness and advocacy Material
- The IFA Autism Series; a special series that IFA is embarking on to develop its Nigeria specific content for TV, Radio on and offline print. The series will include interviews and discussions with various groups of Nigerian families and stakeholders.
- Providing an Autism Assessment Centre.
- Providing Capacity Building Iniative to strengthen the capacity of stakeholders, including parents, teachers, and health care workers on the management of Autism challenges.
- Early Intervention Program
Ike foundation for autism wishes to address help low-income families save the cost of autism treatment by setting up financially accessible Autism Community Centres in each of the six geopolitical zones, including FCT.
These Centers will be multi-purpose one-stop facilities and will cater to all persons with autism.
To date, Ike foundation for autism has been successful with her efforts in her autism dvocacy and awareness campaign, the establishment of an Autism Assessment Centre, the opening of the IFA Resource Centre, producing the IFA Autism Series, and collaborating on Autism Data and Information Generation and Dissemination.
THE LEARNING PLACE CENTRE (TLP Centre)
TLP Centre is a non-profit day school and after school located in a serene part of Lagos. TLP Centre nurtures, educates and celebrates bright, yet different persons struggling to cope in a world unprepared to deal with their differences.
With the use of research based interventions, they functionally equip children and young adults aged 1-22years living with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Learning Peculiarity, and related developmental disorders.
CHILDREN’S DEVELOPMENT CENTRE
This is a place where children and young people with developmental disabilities are helped to cultivate a healthy sense of belonging in the society. This sense of belonging is extended to the rest of the family and our local community.
Their areas of focus include: services, training, and advocacy.
Lagos Living and Learning (Triple L) Centre
Triple L Centre is a new initiative in our environment. It is a place for young people to continue developing skills within the community with support services for life. Their approach includes:
- Team Work Approach
- Holistic Programmes for the Children
- Treatment with dignity
Thirty percent (30%) of their beneficiaries belong to the range of 10-21 years age range.
However, the centre cares for children as young as 10 months up to adults who are over 30 years old.
They stand out for the job experience they offer some of their students. As at June 5 2018, 3 of their students were trainees at a supermarket in Victoria Island, Lagos. Furthermore, some of their students represented Nigeria at the last Special Olympics games in Abu Dhabi.
Along with these and other organizations across Nigeria dedicated to autism awareness, advocacy and management, on this World Autism Day, all of us at Social Good Lagos wish to help us all realize that autism is a difference, a peculiarity, like many others that exist among humans, and not necessarily a disability, and as such, an autist is a human with equal potentials, dignity, rights and privileges.
Happy World Autism Day.
Written by: SGL Comms Team