Parents of autistic children seek support
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.