Why We Set Up School for Autistic Children (Interview with City People Magazine)

Much has been said about Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Asperger Syndrome, the invisible child disorder dreaded by parents worldwide. The ailment is regarded as one of the major reasons of psychological traumas parents suffer, more so, when the cause of the disorder is unknown and a medical solution is yet to be found.

In Nigeria, the case has reached an alarming proportion. According to Mrs Dotun Akande, the development looks worrisome as more parents are in denial of this unfortunate disorder which affects the child right from birth. The ex-banker whose child suffered from the syndrome receive motivation to set up the Patrick Speech and Languages Centre, GRA, Ikeja to deal with the management of the disorder. She was trained at the famous National Autistic Centre, United Kingdom. In this interview with City People, she talks on all there is to know about the disorder, especially the myth that children outgrow it.

According to her, “The only solution is treatment” In this interview she spoke with Seye Kehinde and Wole Alakija on why she decided to open the school. Below is an extract from the interview. Refer to City People Magazine of October 25, 2006.

CP: So what are the signs of Autism and Asperger Syndrome in a child?
Akande: Sometimes, they can’t talk and when they do, they keep talking endlessly without communicating anything to you. Those are the ones we call Asperger Syndrome. They are high-functioning. They do well in class, they hear and listen and are intelligent. The problem is that they are entirely in their world because they don’t wait for your reaction or read facial expression. There are also the very serious cases. Those ones don’t have a language. You have to teach them every little things like social skills, promotional skills, language, academics, communication and play.

CP: So when is the best time to tackle it?
Akande: It’s a case of early intervention. The earlier you start the treatment, the better the child becomes.

CP: What are the statistics of children with this problem locally?
Akande: I may not know the exact figures but we have a lot of parents with autistic children. The sad thing is that most parents are in denial because f so many reasons.

CP: Like the stigma?
Akande: Absolutely and the other sad one is the ignorance in the belief that the children would outgrow it. Children don’t outgrow AUTISM. The only solution is therapy. If you don’t, the child will grow up to be what you don’t want him/her to be. This is because no drug has yet been developed to treat it. Its purely therapeutic.