Panel Calls For Legislation To Protect Children With Neurodevelopmental Disorder from Abuse

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By; MATTHEW UKACHUNWA, Lagos

A panel of experts have called for laws that will protect children with neurodevelopmental disorder from abuse meted out to them by some of their caregivers.

They made the call while discussing the topic, “Circle of Care” at a neurodevelopmental disorder conference on the theme: “Creating A Community of Awe-Tism Advocates” which took place in Lagos recently.

A member of the discussants, Bukola Ayinde, the founder of Diary of a Special Needs Mum Initiative, shared her experience of how she had seen vulnerable children been abused.

“Therapists do abuse children left in their care,” she said, stressing that some of the children do not know how to defend themselves.

Dr. Muideen Bakare, Chief Consultant Psychiatrist at Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Enugu, noted that there are extant laws, but expressed disappointment that lack of enforcement is the matter.

“I think we have some laws in Nigeria, but implementation is the problem. At least we have the Child Rights Act,” he said.

Expressing worry on the ineffectiveness of the country’s justice system, the psychiatrist pointed out that “the law has been there” – including the law that protects adults with disabilities.

In his view, solution can be found in existing legislations. “It’s about pushing through with justice through existing law,” Bakare emphasized.

He said that training of parents is important in intervention with children with developmental disabilities, including autism.

He described parents as number one caregivers.

Bakare declared, “If we educate people very well they will be able to defend the vulnerable. The vulnerable cannot protect themselves very well.”

Another member of the panel, Joy Ovioije Adeniyi who is a behaviour analyst, advised those seeking the services of behavioural therapists to make sure that the person they are engaging to take care of their children and wards is certified.

Dr. Oladipo Sowunmi, a consultant psychiatrist at Neuropsychiatrist Hospital, Abeokuta, enjoined social workers to help in protecting vulnerable children.

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