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Autism schools are seeking government support

The Learning Place Centre, Learning Innovation Academy, Lekki, Lagos and a group of other schools have called on the Federal Government to support children with autism and their learning centers across the country.

Speaking after an Autism Awareness Walk held at the TLPC, Lekki, in celebration of ‘Autism Awareness Month’, usually observed in April, and titled ‘Aligning the SDGs with Autism: Empowerment, Challenges and Victories’, said Executive Director of TLPC, Mrs. Bolanle Adewole explained that there had been no support for the charity work the schools and centers were giving to autistic children.

According to cdc.gov, autism spectrum disorder is a developmental disorder caused by differences in the brain.

Adewole called on government to provide policy and training support for parents of autistic children.

She added: “We work with children with special needs. It’s not a one-man business. So we decided to come together and look at the mission as one whole. We realized that there is still a lot of work to be done. To create awareness we decided to take a walk. We do a lot to give them the opportunity to live on their own. We receive no support and do a lot of charity work. Government support is always needed. The government can come up with policies to guide us and give us fixed rules. If most things are standard, this is best put into practice. The government can also support us by organizing training for parents of autistic children who cannot afford the training, and they can also support us in the form of financing so that we can impact more people.”

Adewole disclosed that the autism awareness walk was an initiative of the TLP Center and TLIA in collaboration with other education centres. She explained that there was a plan to make this trip annually to spread the need for acceptance, accommodation, empowerment, employment and functional independence of children with autism.

“Employees were invited to symbolize unity for the cause and to promote cooperation and teamwork that would lead to the achievement of long-term goals. If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together,” she said.

Also, the Managing Director, Lagos State Office for Disability, Adenike Lawal, added: “The whole world is creating awareness and creating a society where autism is associated with support.

A child is autistic not because he/she is bad. Schools, healthcare providers and parents must adapt to reality. It’s lifelong. No one can do anything about it and you shouldn’t compare one child with another.”

She reiterated that the Lagos State Government provides free education to persons with disabilities from primary to tertiary education.

The chairman of the walk and proprietor, Anthos House, Lekki, Mrs. Lai Koiki, stressed the need for educators and parents to continue creating awareness about autism, saying parents and caregivers needed support.

She said: “Practitioners and parents need to raise awareness, especially among people who believe it is a disease for the rich. The government should come into this space and support it. Parents need a lot of support. Some courses can be subsidized for this purpose. We continue to create awareness and reach the people around us. Consciousness should be more. Those who do not experience it should be a pillar of strength for others.”

Director, Brainy Oaks Education Consultant, Oyinka Afolabi, added: “Educators must teach other children without autism to be tolerant of autistic children and interact with them appropriately.

As an autistic teacher you can’t stop learning, you have to be passionate and do it with your heart.”

The Founder and Director of Patrick Speech and Language Center, Mrs. Dotun Akande, advised families struggling with children with autism not to keep them at home.

“Don’t think, because they can’t talk, they don’t think. They think and learn. You can see the great work they have done in the field of art and how they can continue to showcase their talents,” said Akande.

On her part, CEO of Manna Children’s Centre, Lagos, Modupe Williams-Odifa encouraged: “People need to be aware of what is going on with autistic children. The federal government must support the special needs sector. Parents should love them too; they are children first.”

Other schools at the event including St. Saviour School, Ikoyi, Lighthouse for Autism, Sultana Nabilah’s Cerebal Palsy Foundation and Cradle Lounge Special Needs Initiatives walked from St. Saviour’s School, Ikoyi, to The Learning Place Centre, Lekki, Lagos.