Par­ents of autis­tic chil­dren seek sup­port

Daily Trust - - HEALTH - From Risikat Ra­moni, La­gos

Par­ents whose chil­dren suf­fer from autism spec­trum dis­or­der (ASD) have called for sup­port to en­able them cope with the fi­nan­cial, psy­cho­log­i­cal and other de­mands of the dis­ease.

Autism is de­scribed as a life-long psy­cho­log­i­cal dis­or­der of brain de­vel­op­ment, char­ac­ter­ized by dif­fi­cul­ties in so­cial in­ter­ac­tion, ver­bal and non­ver­bal com­mu­ni­ca­tion and repet­i­tive be­hav­iours with preva­lence of 1 out of 54 chil­dren hav­ing it.

“My daugh­ter is 23, she has autism, and I pay N600,000 per term for her ed­u­ca­tion,” lamented a father, Mr Se­gun Joseph, dur­ing the just­con­cluded two-day an­nual autism con­fer­ence or­ga­nized by Guar­anty Trust Bank.

Many par­ents who spoke at the con­fer­ence said they in­curred huge ex­penses to take care of their autis­tic chil­dren. An autis­tic child needs a speech ther­a­pist, nu­tri­tion­ist, psy­chi­a­trist, pae­di­a­tri­cian, au­di­ol­o­gist, amongst oth­ers. Each cost a lot and the results may not be vis­i­ble in years, they said.

In most cen­tres, the man­agers who pre­ferred not to dis­close the amount, said the cost of han­dling a child will be de­ter­mined by the sever­ity of the con­di­tion of the child.

A psy­chi­a­trist at the Col­lege of Medicine, La­gos Univer­sity Teach­ing Hos­pi­tal, LUTH, Dr Mo­tun­rayo Oyelo­hunnu, said many par­ents suf­fer psy­cho­log­i­cally, fi­nan­cially and oth­er­wise, when they have a child with autism.

She said many moth­ers stopped work­ing in order to have more time to take care of their autis­tic child. She cited an in­stance, were a cou­ple had three chil­dren, two had autism and the third had Down Syn­drome.

She also gave an­other ex­am­ple of a cou­ple who had a child with autism and the sec­ond child had in­tel­lec­tual dis­abil­ity.

In her lec­ture on ‘Care­giver Sup­port Group:The Gains and Chal­lenges’, she in­sisted that hus­bands must be sup­port­ive when there was a child with autism or any other ail­ment in the fam­ily, rather than aban­don­ing the woman, as most men did.

She added that women who stopped work­ing to take care of their chil­dren with spe­cial needs, should find means to earn money at home.

The psy­chi­a­trist, who also heads the Autism and Neu­rode­vel­op­men­tal Re­source Cen­tre (ANRC), in­sisted that gov­ern­ment should as­sist par­ents through sup­port­ing the ed­u­ca­tion of spe­cial chil­dren and pro­vid­ing ad­e­quate health care, not­ing that, the schools and cen­tres were ex­pen­sive.

From left, Min­is­ter of health, Prof. Isaac Ade­wole and Min­is­ter of labour and pro­duc­tiv­ity, Dr Chris Ngige dur­ing the launch of the 2016 Lancet Se­ries on Breast feed­ing, and high- level pol­icy di­a­logue on pro­mot­ing breast feed­ing in Nige­ria in Abuja re­cently.

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