Group demands better awareness campaign on autism
A group, Defeat Autism in Nigeria (DAIN), has urged the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to compel media houses to embark on campaigns about autism across the nation to improve public understanding of the condition.
DAIN project director Chidi Izuwah who is also on the board of the autism care centre, Our Lady of Guadalupe urged the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and the federal ministry of health to consider autism spectrum disorder (ASD) as a serious health issue. The prevalence of the disorder is reportedly unknown.
“We have asked the National Broadcasting Commission to make it mandatory for public service adverts on autism. It is a very complicated thing,” he said at a workshop to mark Autism Day in Abuja.
“What needs to happen is to put in the effort and make sure we can draw awareness to autism in the country,” Izuwah said.
“If you are aware, then you stand a chance of doing what is necessary for your child or your friend.”
The exact prevalence of ASD-which affects behavior, social and communicative skills of especially growing children and impact their development-is uncertain, and awareness about the condition is minimal, experts have said.
Experts in autism care list warning signs that parents should look out for in children that may point to disrupted development milestones: when babies don’t coo, babble, make eye contact or take turns making baby noises at six months of age, according to Romoke Wabab, who cares for autistic children at the Our Lady of Guadalupe centre.
She said other critical signs include when they make no attempt to speak, point, respond when their name is called, fixate on single objects, stay indifferent to others, repeat typical motions and are oversensitive to textures, smells or sounds at 12 months; and when lose words or do not initiate two-word phrases at age 24 months.