Farouk Hassan is one of the few young people I have met, working with children with autism, with so much passion. I told him once that I still owe him a date, because he is such an inspiration.
“Working with children with exceptional needs, particularly children with autism has been one of the most exciting learning experiences I have had to engage in. Children with autism are intriguing and distinctive individuals. They are a bit challenged when it has to do with social situations, yet their minds are filled with a lot of social conversations that they try to express to the very best of their abilities.
I never dreamt about working with children with exceptional needs (as I like to refer to children with special needs), given the fact that my childhood ambition was to be a biochemist. It was in my 2nd year at the University of Jos, Nigeria, that my desire to build a career path around children with exceptional needs got its strong hold.
Ever since then, I have had my share of being a part of the transforming phase of these children and during this course, I have noted some observations. First is that children with autism are interesting learners. They can metamorphosize from a child who dreads holding a pencil because of its surface texture, to a child who enjoys drawing with another particular pencil with a better surface texture, due to the fact that it can comfortably facilitate him/her in expressing an artistic inclination and capability. The key to understanding this tendency I believe is to closely observe and understand what prompts the interest of the child with autism in participating in activities.
Secondly, the key to managing autism is consistent generalization. The term generalization when used in special needs education involves the ability of children with exceptional needs to use and apply skills that they have learnt, both functional and academic, in new and different environments and situations. My observation about generalization is thus; consistent generalization ensures that children with exceptional needs will be able to successfully complete specific activities independently and not rely on a certain reinforcement only found in one learning environment. Also it provides these children with more ways to achieve desired outcomes despite changing circumstances, especially if the child’s special education intervention was initiated early.
I also believe that families have a greater part to play in enabling their children with autism achieve independence, by making conscious effort to attend IEP meetings for the benefit of their children’s progress in intervention programs, and being part of activities given to their children.
Nevertheless, the greatest part of working with children on the spectrum is when they are meeting the milestones set for them. It motivates you in putting effort and enthusiasm into achieving more.
Children with autism are adorable individuals. You just have to build a bit of patience and persistence with them, and in turn watch them rise pass expectations.”
|With other members of staff of CADET Academy|
Farouk presently works at The CADET Academy in Abuja, a top center that provides therapy and solutions for children with special needs.