Sat. Apr 13th, 2024


Medical experts have called for increased awareness to arrest the number of autism cases in Nigeria.

Interacting with our correspondent through WhatsApp chat, Dr. Peace Amaraegbulam, the founder of The Straight Child Foundation, TSCF said just like Cerebral palsy, there is no indication that autism can be cured.

Pix: Dr. Peace Amaraegbulam.

According to her autism is viewed as permanent, because It is not a disorder that typically disappears on its own, hence the need for parents to seek professional advice in case of suspected autism in their children, because comprehensive treatment provides a better prognosis.

Dr. Amaraegbulam, who is a consultant orthopedic surgeon at the Federal Medical Centre Umuahia, decried the low level of awareness about cerebral palsy and autism in Nigeria, observed that in many parts of the country today, particularly in rural settings, people with autism are thought to be possessed or evil.

“While autism and cerebral palsy are completely separate disorders with different characteristics, there are symptoms that overlap, these include: Delayed first word, language impairment and or speaking difficulties; Awkward, abnormal or repetitive movements; Walking in an atypical manner”, She further explained.

According to her, “the first sign the parents of a child with autism might notice could be that the child has a stereotype, and does things in a particular order, and he or she throws tantrums when the stereotype is disturbed.”

Amaraegbulam, who pointed out that a psychologist can recommend ways to address problem behaviour of a patient with autism, moreover observed that depending on a person child’s needs, speech therapy to improve communication skills, occupational therapy to teach activities of daily living, and physical therapy to improve movement and balance may be beneficial.

Dr. Mrs Gloria Harrison.

Also a psychiatrist practising in the United Kingdom, and the Secretary General of Harrison Goodness Foundation, HGF Dr. Mrs Gloria Harrison, who also interacted with our correspondent through WhatsApp chat, called on Nigerians to help promote the idea that every individual with autism is unique and should be celebrated for their differences.

She also observed that the world autism day was designed to provide greater support and empowerment to individuals with autism, and enable them to lead meaningful lives and pursue successful careers.

Dr. Harrison who espoused and expounded the theme of World Autism Awareness Day, “Empowering Autistic Voices”, further pointed out that early recognition, as well as behavioural, educational and family therapies may reduce symptoms and support development and learning.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability caused by differences in the brain. Some people with ASD have a known difference, such as a genetic condition. Other causes are not yet known. Scientists believe there are multiple causes of ASD that act together to change the most common ways people develop. We still have much to learn about these causes and how they impact people with ASD.

People with ASD may behave, communicate, interact, and learn in ways that are different from most other people. There is often nothing about how they look that sets them apart from other people. The abilities of people with ASD can vary significantly. For example, some people with ASD may have advanced conversation skills whereas others may be nonverbal. Some people with ASD need a lot of help in their daily lives; others can work and live with little to no support.

ASD begins before the age of 3 years and can last throughout a person’s life, although symptoms may improve over time. Some children show ASD symptoms within the first 12 months of life. In others, symptoms may not show up until 24 months of age or later. Some children with ASD gain new skills and meet developmental milestones until around 18 to 24 months of age, and then they stop gaining new skills or lose the skills they once had.


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