Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Happy World Autism Awareness Day

I wrote this for a friend's blog a while ago. Today is World Autism Day and it just seemed perfect to share this today. It's simple and can easily be shared.

A woman discovers that she's pregnant and she's happy. It may be the first, second or maybe tenth child she's expecting. Apart from the difference in experience, the fact that she's expecting to give birth safely is the same.
Some months later,a child (let's say a boy) is born and everyone rejoices. He doesn't look different from a regular child. The doctor and the parents have no cause to worry. He seems to grow normally; crawling at the right time, attempts walking at the right time etc. But then at 18 months, the mother notices that her child is not talking. It dawns on her that he didn't babble at 9 months and then she starts getting worried. She runs to the paediatrician and he says it's late development; boys sometimes develop later than girls. Her mind is put at rest for a while. But then she begins to notice other things; he doesn't seem to notice people around him,he does not play with the other children, and it seems he does not like to be touched, he avoids eye contact with people. She notices other strange behaviours; he flaps his hands, covers his ears, arranges things in a particular order, he does not point at what he wants but would lead a person's hand to his object of interest. She also notices that toilet training seems harder for him to grasp. She is getting more worried,but the doctor does not recognize that something is wrong.
Now he's almost 3 and things are not getting better, then the truth is revealed. Her son has AUTISM. How? Why? What did she do wrong? What did she eat when she was pregnant? Was it the age when she conceived? The doctor tells her that it's not her fault. Autism is a disorder whose cause is not known and is certainly not a parent's fault.
He tells her that Autism is a neuro-developmental disorder that affects a child's social, behavioural and communication skills. Some children actually talk and acquire some skills at the right time,but lose these skills before they are three. It is more common in boys than in girls,with a ratio of 4 boys to 1 girl. In the US, autism is found in 1 out of 88 people. Nigeria does not have documented statistics,but autism is getting more common around us...
The doctor continues to talk, but it's all a blur as she sits there crying and wondering what the future holds for her son. Will he ever talk? Will he be able to go to school like other kids? Will he live an independent life like other children? Different questions run through her mind and she has no answers.

The truth however is that her child can attain independence like every other child if she seeks help. He can go to school like other children. Therapy is available for children with autism in some states in Nigeria. And the different types of therapy available are to help the child attain maximum independence. The child's social skill can be developed, communication skills can be built and behaviour can be modified. And there's support available for parents now in Nigeria so that these parents and their children with the support of other parents and professionals, can fight the battle against autism. AUTISM does not have to stop a child's destiny.

For more information, you can join the Nigerian Autism community through Nigerians for Autism on Facebook. There is also a parent group in Nigeria called Parents Against Autism Initiative (PAAI). I also always tell parents that "google is your friend". The internet affords you the opportunity to get any information you may be seeking and find support in the international community. 

That's it folks. April is Autism Month,so this blog should be busy. I hope to share stories of parents that have had to deal with Autism in their kids. There will be a book review (you don't want to miss that) and so much more. Please follow me on twitter @adelolaonautism and like my Facebook page Autism Gist with Adelola. I'm sure you will learn a lot this month about autism.
And please read, comment and share o. Let's get this word out people.

Much love from me to you this Autism season... muah

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