Tuesday, October 31, 2017

In Other News: I Attended a Training on ADHD

I attended a training on ADHD earlier this month. I want to give you the gist of the things I learnt.

I'll be right back

Thursday, September 21, 2017

GIST FROM AN INCLUSIVE CLASSROOM

I saw this a few days ago in an inclusive classroom, and I thought I should share.





Dear teachers in Nigeria,

A visual schedule like this is a good way to manage the behaviour of a child with autism in your classroom. It shows the sequence of events in the classroom, helping a child to be organized and to know what to expect in his/her day.
A visual schedule has many benefits for children on the autism spectrum. Let me share a few here:

1.    It helps for easy transition from one activity to another in the class.

2.  It reduces anxiety, as the child knows what to expect.

3.     It reduces the need for adult prompts, thereby helping the child to be more independent.

4.   It helps with literacy development, as the child gets used to the words, especially if it comes with pictures as well

5.    It helps to teach sequence, and the child can reference what he/she did during the day.

 6.    Children can learn to plan and follow instructions. This will help them in completing tasks, preparing for the work place as adults, and in doing activities for daily living.

 7.   It benefits the neurotypical children in your class too.

Another benefit is that a child can also learn to be responsible. You can make it a fun experience for a child, if you give the child or all the children an opportunity to arrange the visual schedule.

I must say here that it is important to put in perspective the needs and the ability of the child with autism in your class. For more functional children, your visual schedule may have words only, while another teacher may need to have pictures on the visual schedule.

For some children, it will be good to arrange just a few activities at a time. For example, for a younger child, you may just put up two activities at the same time, saying “Now” and “Next” or “First” and “Then”. You can have three activities, and add to it as the day progresses.

You can post your own picture on it (photo credit: Pintrest)

A visual schedule is a step in the right direction for an inclusive classroom, as it shows that you are putting things in place to accommodate the needs of a child with autism that can be in your class.

I hope you consider putting one in your class today.


Have you been following my #ThrowbackThursday #AutismAwareness with Adelola on Twitter? Join @adelolaonautism on Twitter for today’s throwback

Sunday, July 30, 2017

LET'S GET THE CHURCH INVOLVED IN INCLUSION

I have been silent on this blog, and I apologize.

A few years ago, I used to work in a boarding school for children with special needs. We used to take the children to a church nearby, till one day the pastor advised us to stop bringing the children to their church. That was a painful blow to us, but what could we do than say thank you, and start church at the school.

But there was this children’s church teacher that started coming with some other teachers in her church to conduct service at the school. How happy we were. The children used to be excited to see them (they found a way to show their excitement) and the woman and her colleagues would engage the children for about 1 hour in Bible Stories and music.

Did I mention that the woman was not a special needs teacher? She was a government worker, whose love for children made her volunteer to work with children in her church, and she extended that love to children with special needs


This Saturday, August 5, Autism Gist with Adelola is holding its first conference in Lagos, the Special Needs Conference for Churches. At this Conference, there will be an awareness about special needs for the Church community. Pastors, children’s church teachers, church members, and parents will learn the roles that the Church should play in the lives of Children with Special Needs and their families. And children’s church teachers will be taught how to engage children with special needs in children’s church.

The conference will start by 10 a.m and run till 4 p.m, at the Conference Hall of Eden Comfort Hotel, 17 Alade Avenue, off Obafemi Awolowo way, Ikeja (the street is opposite the Lagos Airport Hotel). Participants are required to register online before August 3 (https://odiame.typeform.com/to/Dxy3i9)

Adelola Edema will be joined by highly trained professionals in special education, curriculum development and leadership strategy


Mrs. Dotun Akande of Patrick Speech and Languages Centre will be speaking on Ways the Church can Accommodate Children with Special Needs and their Families. Patrick Speech and Languages Centre is the first Autism center in Nigeria, and they have been actively involved not just in autism therapy, but also integration of children with autism in mainstream schools. Patricks has also been in the forefront of autism awareness in Nigeria and training professionals and parents in handling children with autism.


Rotimi Eyitayo, who is a splendid Nigerian strategist with outstanding ideas in peak performance, workforce activation and process improvement/management. He has distinguished himself as a passionate catalyst for change, with a rare combination of talent, experience and research. He is known for his expertise in Content, Strategy and Growth and he is the MD/CEO of TeamMasters Ltd. He is the convener of the National School Conference and the project director of the TeamMasters National Spelling Bee Competition. He will be speaking on the role of the Church as desired by God towards families that have children with special needs.


Eniola Lahanmi is a Speech and Language Therapist who consults for special needs centers by providing speech therapy for children with communication and language limitations. She has a Master’s degree in Speech and Language Therapy from the University Reading and she has been involved in training of parents, caregivers and professionals on building communication skills in children with communication and language limitations. She will be speaking Engaging Children with Communication and Language Difficulties in Children’s Church.


Joke Joshua will be teaching children’s church teachers how to create Bible stories and social stories to engage children with special needs in church. She is the Director of Pison Therapy Centre in Ikorodu; a center that caters for children with autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, hydrocephaly, learning disability and related disorders. Joke who is trained in TEACCH technique of behaviour therapy has worked with children with special needs since 2008. She is actively involved in special needs awareness and has organized free trainings for parents of children with special needs on behaviour management and communication skill development.



Rhoda Odigbo is a Childhood Education Specialist, Learning Strategist and a Curriculum Theorist; with over a decade’s experience in teaching, training, curriculum development, and development of start-up schools. She is the Coordinator and Co-Founder of the Learning Craft. Rhoda is passionate about inclusive education, because she believes that every child is important in the classroom. She is the convener of The Teachers Network. A Facebook Group with over 1,700 growing teachers from around and outside the country. The core of her work is in Evidence Based Teacher training programs and Curriculum Development. She will be speaking on Curriculum Delivery In An Inclusive Children’s Church.


Adelola Edema is the lady behind Autism Gist with Adelola and the convener of the Special Needs Conference for Churches. She believes that with the right kind of education, children with special needs can be successful, regardless of the limitations the disorders pose. Since 2009, she has worked with children and teenagers with autism, Down syndrome, Cerebral palsy, Microcephaly, and other learning disabilities. Trained in ABA and TEACCH techniques of behaviour therapy, Adelola is actively involved in support and education for individuals with autism and in autism awareness. She will be speaking on the ABC of Behaviour Management in Children’s Church.

You want to be part of this conference if you are a member of the Church community, and invite your church as well.


I look forward to hosting you.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

MENTAL HEALTH: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

The first time I ever heard of OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) was in the 1997 movie, As Good as It Gets. It’s a movie about a writer who has OCD and his love interest, basically. As much as I knew it then, I didn’t appreciate it until many years later, when working with children on the spectrum made me read about it.
 
Image credit: Poster from Wikipedia

Working with children with autism, I have heard people talk about OCD in relations to autism, with some confusing OCD with autism symptoms. But what exactly is OCD?

Image credit: https://manhattanpsychologygroup.com/obsessive-compulsive-disorder/


Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is said to be a type of Anxiety Disorder, characterized by repetitive and compulsive behaviors that are a result of fears and distressing thoughts (obsessive). The behaviors are used to cope with the fears and thoughts, they feel like the behavior will avert something bad from happening. These behaviors range from ritualized washing, tapping, touching, arranging and rearranging, checking, apologizing, and certain mental rituals such as counting, or praying.

Image credigt: https://www.askdrshah.com/blog/tips-overcome-obsessive-compulsive-disorder/


Although like OCD, people on the autism spectrum show repetitive behaviors, people on the spectrum will most likely not think it through and can be unaware of what they are doing, and it may just be because they enjoy the behavior, so the behavior is not as a result of fearful thoughts. People that have OCD are afraid of germs and contamination, harm coming to them or to others, intruders, that they may harm others, among other things. And then display these compulsive behaviors as responses to such thoughts.

Image credit: https://sites.google.com/a/cms.k12.nc.us/ap-psych-2a/ocd-and-other-compulsive-disorders


But then can a person on the spectrum have OCD?

Last year, I shared on this blog about Anxiety, and I mentioned that it can be a comorbid disorder in some people living with autism. It is the same for OCD. According to a 2011 study, about 17% of people on the spectrum meet the criteria for OCD (Van Steensel, Bogels, and Perrin, 2011), but according to Autism Speaks, the percentage of people on the spectrum that have OCD ranges from 8% to 33%. Although these statistics are based on studies in the US, and we do not have recorded data in Nigeria, there are families that have expressed concerns about anxiety disorder and OCD in their children and adults on the spectrum.

According to Autism Speaks, OCD is not common in children on the spectrum, because it develops in adolescents and adults. The cause of OCD is not fully known, but medical professionals suggest that it can be genetic as it has a tendency to run in certain families, or a result of habits that one may have developed over a long period of time.

If you think that you may have OCD or as a parent you think your teenager or adult on the autism spectrum may have OCD, speak to a psychiatrist about it. Although there is no cure for OCD, there are treatments that enable the patient cope better. As I said earlier, it is a type of Anxiety Disorder, and so it can be treated through therapy (Cognitive Behavior Therapy), or in some cases medications. Family support is also important in helping people with OCD. Family members can help by praising the efforts of the person with OCD, but no matter what you do, DO NOT make negative comments about the person’s disorder.

May is Mental Health Month, the mental health of everyone is important, including our children, teenagers, and adults on the autism spectrum. Let's get educated about our mental health.



Resources


Sunday, April 30, 2017

RIGHTS: WILL YOU SPEAK FOR ME?

I met some people on the autism spectrum on Twitter last year. They spoke for themselves, about the disorder, the struggles and the blessing of autism. I visited their blogs and learnt more about them and their autism experiences.

That day I got to a client’s house, and looking at him I wished he could speak for himself. I wish he could talk about his struggles, his victories, his needs, and much more. But I realized that his mum has been speaking for him, actually both parents but I have had cause to interact with his mum more. By interacting with her, I have learnt a lot about him, how far he has come, and I have learnt to appreciate his journey.

If parents don’t speak up for their children on the spectrum, how can people understand? It’s important to get early intervention, therapy, SEN support for your child, but beyond that be the VOICE for your child.
This caption captures my thoughts


A mother told me that sometime ago, she went to her child’s school to lecture the teachers on anxiety and sensory processing disorder in children with autism, helping them understand some of the challenges that her child has to deal with daily. She said that it changed the teacher’s disposition towards her child, and she noticed progress in her child’s learning.

What if she never spoke up for her child?

Another advantage of speaking out for your child is that you may be speaking up for another child, you may be giving hope to another parent. Sometimes all a mother needs is the assurance that she is not alone, and you will be giving her hope by speaking up.

Today, April ends. But does autism awareness end? It doesn’t. Autism awareness continues. Autism advocacy continues. We will continue to be the voice that speaks for children, adolescents, and adults that live with autism. We will continue to speak for their families.
I speak for children that I teach


I want to appreciate those who have supported the blog by sharing the articles throughout the month. I want to encourage you to continue sharing, not just articles from this blog, but also other articles on autism. Let us be the voice of those who cannot speak for themselves. People with autism have the RIGHT TO HAVE A VOICE.

Friday, April 28, 2017

DO YOU KNOW PLAY HELPS CHILDREN WITH AUTISM AND DEVELOPMENTAL DELAYS

I read a quote credited to Dr Stuart Brown, “Nothing lights up a child’s brain like play”. It is said that children learn by play, and play is important for healthy development in children. According to Jona K. Anderson and Sandra J. Bailey, 75% of brain development happens after birth, and play helps with that development by stimulating the brain through the formation of connections between nerve cells. Play helps with development of fine and gross motor skills, language and communication, socialization skills, creative and thinking skills. Children learn to solve problems in play (The Importance of Play in Early Childhood Development, www.msuextension.org).

One man and his team has taken this literally and they play with all children, helping to boost their development. This program is directed at children with developmental delays and all other children. The children they work with build different skills as they play together.


The Playsmart Concept is a full service child development consultancy that works with the global concept of ‘play’. They provide play based programs for preschools and primary schools called Smart Play, with emphasis on learning readiness. They also provide support in form of therapy for children with developmental delays.

According to them, their main focus is promoting and providing play based programs for children and support for children with developmental delays. Having worked for close to 10 years with children with developmental delays, they have seen that every child develops optimally when exposed to developmentally appropriate play based programs.

As you should be aware, children with autism have developmental delays, so Playsmart Concepts provides opportunities for children with autism to develop earlier through play.

I first heard of Playsmart Concepts when I saw an advert for their Saturday play programs. Then I asked to volunteer at one of their programs, and I saw how all the children responded very well. And they had testimonies of the children I could recognize as being on the autism spectrum, how they had made progress in the time they had spent attending their programs.
 

The play program created an inclusive environment, as there was no segregation or discrimination. A child cannot be wrong in play, so all the children had free expression of themselves. I saw a child who didn’t seem like she wanted to play with the others when she came in lighten up as the play progressed.

The Playsmart Concepts team is led by Mr Isa Gabriel who has had the experience of working with children, using play as a tool for more than a decade.

I am happy to celebrate Mr Isa and The Playsmart Concepts team today, because of the part they play in the lives of our children living with Autism. Inclusion of people on the autism spectrum in the society is very dear to me, and The Playsmart Concepts is not only helping with inclusion, but also they are helping our children develop better.

You can learn more about Playsmart Concepts by visiting their website www.playsmartconcepts.org

Thursday, April 27, 2017

RIGHT TO PROTECTION

Working with children that have autism over the years, I have seen parents leave out sensitive issues like their child having the tendency to wander, or being prone to seizures when they bring the child to school. They may have sincere reasons, but then it may be putting the security of the child at risk.

In 2013, a parent brought her son to the school I worked at the time, and she told us he had wandered the previous Christmas. This information was very helpful because, not only were we more conscious of the general school security, we paid close attention to this boy, and realised that if we were not careful we could lose him somehow. He did attempt to wander, but because we knew he could, he did not succeed. Not just that, we notified people in the environment that we had children that had the tendency to try to run, making them realise that it didn’t depend on  whether we were nice to the children or not, but these kids just had the tendency. Somehow, in that community we had eyes everywhere, including our gates. When people saw our kids at the gate, they called out to us, without assuming that we probably sent the child on an errand.
Photo credit: www.autismtopics.org


In another case, I have seen a child have seizures in school and the school was unaware that he was prone to that. When they called the mum, she was not surprised, she just “handled” it. Thank God the school knew what to do.

A parent cannot always be around the child at all times, but as a parent, you can put things in place to ensure your child’s safety. Many parents have testified that their child was saved from wandering because people in the neighbourhood recognized him/her, and were able to call their attention. What you have done by not hiding your child is to empower others to protect him/her.
Photo credit: Pintrest


Also, in a time when people are evil, it is important that other members of the community take child security as a communal task. Many children living with autism in Nigeria are non-verbal or have limitations with communication, so that means that they may not be able to call for help, but when you sense danger as a teacher, a neighbour, or as someone lucky to be around the corner, don’t just overlook, ask questions.
We have to work together to protect our children on the spectrum
Photo credit: Pintrest



I am not saying that you should live in fear, what I am saying is that you should put things in place for your child’s safety. Children with autism have a right to being protected, and we can all play our part as members of the community.