Autism: Mrs Amosun solicits for more care givers

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By; MATTHEW UKACHUNWA, Lagos.
Wife of Ogun State governor, Mrs. Olufunsho Amosu has called for the formation of more care giver support groups across the nation to render humanitarian services to people suffering from chronic and stigmatizing health conditions.
Members of the support groups, she said, will by sharing experiences and bringing together people facing similar illnesses help those having these health challenges cope better, feel less isolated and become empowered with information about their condition.
Amosu made the appeal while addressing participants at a 2-day GT Bank 6th Annual Autism Conference in Lagos recently.  The theme of the event was “Managing Autism:  The Next Generation, Consideration and Resources.”
She said that her realization of  the impact of GT Bank’s Autism Programme in Ogun State communities motivated her to be an advocate of care giver support groups.
Amosu commended the bank for touching lives of the masses in her state, stressing that she will remain ever grateful for such corporate responsibility.
“A little care, a little concern, a little empathy can make a great impact on people’s lives,” she emphasized.  “There are many people suffering in silence, there are so many people hiding their children.  Information given out makes a lot of difference,”
She enjoined Nigerians, either as individuals or groups, to be exemplary in making a difference in other people’s lives through charity in order to make life worth living in communities.
Earlier, the Managing Director of GT Bank, Mr. Segun Agbaje, pointed out that in addition to increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), his organization  plans to create employment for people living with autism.
On the occasion, Mrs. Dotun Akande of Patrick Speech and Languages Centre, spoke on the topic, “Autism, Adulthood and Employment:  The Nigerian Experience” to buttress the importance of making ASD people employable and occupationally empowered.
“With our work with families at Patricks, we have seen many of these children excel in different fields with little or no trace that they were ever on the spectrum,” she narrated.
Akande pointed out that what they find most interesting at the centre was the fact that they are seeing adults with late diagnosis display spectacular talents in their area of interest and strength.
She emphasized that some of the noted talents can be converted to meaningful employment in the community thereby improving the quality of life of those living with ASD.
She disclosed that at the centre young adults with ASD are taught crafts such as carpentry, administrative skill, and even offered employment.
Akande regretted that because many times experts have stressed that autism is a life-long disability, families have taken this term to mean that there is no hope for their children living with the disorder.
A psychiatrist  at College of Medicine, University of Lagos,  Dr. Elizabeth Campbell disclosed that the World Health Organization (WHO) has stipulated that community approach is the best for chronic medical conditions (especially those that stigmatize) to reduce neglect and violation of human right.
“With a total population of over 170 million people in Nigeria, it is believed that 0.7 per cent of the populace are living with autism,” Campbell stated.
This prevalence, she pointed out, is over three decades old and there has been no large demographic survey till date.”
Campbell expressed worry that diagnosis is usually done by medical personnel but most of these health facilities are not accessible, affordable nor acceptable by the citizenry.
“Social exclusion and social distance towards these people have further propounded the problem of access to care,” she asserted.

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