Thursday, January 11, 2018

Now That School Has Resumed

School resumed on Monday, so it's been a lot of adjusting to life after the holiday; the children and the teachers are adjusting, we are back to waking up early 😁

My Welcome back to school smile 😁

Although we are adjusting, work has started full time; teaching, classroom support, one-on-one sessions, classwork, homework, etc.

If you teach or support a child with special needs in Nigeria, or you are a parent of a child with special needs, you would have started talking about the IEP now.

What's an IEP?
It's an acronym for Individualized Education Plan.

Do you want to know more about it? How does the IEP help your child have a productive term? Join me on Twitter by 8pm today for #ThrowbackThursday #AutismAwareness with Adelola; follow @adelolaonautism.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017 WAS A GOOD YEAR

No matter how much I feel a writer’s block, I always have to write on this blog on the 31st of December because it’s our Blog Anniversary. This year we clocked 4, and I remember that first December 31 and the first article I posted on the blog; I still think it was a great way to close the year.

This year was different from previous years, as we took our autism and other special needs awareness offline for the first time; we held the Special Needs Conference for Churches 2017 in August, and it was a huge success. I am happy that people came, and that their expectations were met; the feedback was very good.
Here are some pictures from the event.

Registration
Conference jotters
Registration 

Now I look forward to 2018 with a lot of expectation. In February, the Special Needs Conference on Vocational Skills Development will hold. It will be a gathering of stakeholders in the Disability community in Nigeria and different people working in the vocational skill space, and we will be addressing how teenagers and adults with special needs can benefit from vocational skill development, in order to attain independence.

The Special Needs Conference for Churches 2018 will also hold later in the year. I hope you will be available when we call.

Always remember that I love you guys, and I appreciate your support for the blog. Thank you for reading and sharing always.


Happy Anniversary to Autism Gist with Adelola. Happy New Year in advance to you all. 2018 will be a good year.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Tips for Christmas for Nigerian Families That Have Children on the Autism Spectrum

Countdown to Christmas already!!!

I am a huge fan of Christmas because I am a Christian and I love Christmas hymns. My father has always liked the family together at Christmas, so I grew up spending it at home with my parents. My birthday is also on Christmas day, so it always entails a lot of cooking, birthday cake and singing happy birthday songs.

Although I didn’t grow up travelling to the village or to Grandma’s place for Christmas, I know many people that grew up like that; I also know families that travel for Christmas.
Are you going to Calabar for Christmas? I heard the Christmas Carnival is always an awesome experience

Recently I searched on the internet for Christmas holiday tips for families that have children on the autism spectrum, and most of the tips that I saw may not be helpful for Nigerian parents, as our cultures are different. So today, I will be sharing the tips I can think of, and I will appreciate if you can share your own tips too, as you may have tips that have benefited you and you will like to share.

1. Prepare your child for the holiday. You may need to tell the child, using pictures, about the people visiting or the people you will be visiting. For example, “we are travelling to Grandpa’s, and we will see your Uncles and Aunties, and Grandpa and Grandma’s friends”. Provide certain details that your child may need about each person.

2. If your child is on a diet, plan ahead, pack as much as you will need. You don’t want to feel stranded in a “strange place”. You may also make enquiries on what food they have there that can be acceptable to your child.

3. Prepare for the journey. How can you keep your child comfortable or engaged during the trip? I can imagine travelling by road from Lagos to Abuja!!! OMG! I, as a neurotypical adult, never find that journey comfortable; I would usually sleep, drain my phone battery while chatting or surfing the internet, or talk if I have company. You understand your child better; you may plan short stops on the way, or charge the Tablet and the power bank. You can make it happen.

4. Did you read my post about children with autism having a right to protection? (You can read it here). If your child is prone to wander, you need to guard against that when you are out of town. I know a mother personally whose child wandered off while they were celebrating Christmas at their hometown. I have also read of other similar cases. Read the post here to know what to do to guard against wandering.

5. Educate your family. Sometime last year, I spoke with the owner of Brainfoods, who has a daughter on the autism spectrum. She told me that as Ibos (from the Eastern part of Nigeria), it is customary to go to the village for Christmas. As a mother of a child with autism, she decided to call a family meeting a particular year when they got to the village for Christmas. She explained autism to her family members, and how exactly it has affected her daughter. She also explained that her daughter was on a diet, and therefore could not eat certain types of food. She said that her family members were able to understand her daughter better, which fostered acceptance. Her daughter has since then enjoyed Christmas at their hometown, because she is well loved.

Let me stop here; I will add more tips as I remember. I need your help for other families; if you have any tip that has worked for you, please share with us here, so others can benefit.

Thank you.

PS: Can I say Merry Christmas in advance now?

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.



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