Group de­mands bet­ter aware­ness cam­paign on autism

Daily Trust - - NEWS - By Judd Leonard Okafor

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.

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