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ARTS WORKSHOP

On the 30th of March, 2018, the first special needs Art Workshop for children with autism and developmental disorders took place in Nigeria. It was held at The Terra Culture building, plot 1376, Tiamiyu Savage, off Ahmadu Bello Way, Victoria Island, Lagos. It was a fun-filled, exploratory and interesting event. In attendance were Manna Children Centre, Down Syndrome Foundation, Brite Hill School, Patrick’s Speech and Languages Centre, Mind Builders, Penuel House School, De Beautiful Beginning and Little Beginning Academy. The Art Workshop was hosted by Mrs Victoria Tandoh, and the Guest of Honor was Mr Oliver Enwonwu, a visual artist who has excelled in the sciences and the arts. The program started at 10:15am with the National Anthem and prayer. The presence of the above-mentioned schools was acknowledged and the 26 competing students were welcomed. The competition "My House Through the Eyes of Angels" was about drawing a picture of a beautiful egg - with diverse colours and different patterns. There was no winner in the competition; every participant was celebrated. It was distinctively obvious that the children explored their world of painting in a unique and beautiful way. Mr Nwannku assessed each child's painting as their art works were exhibited. He commended the children for the hard work. Mr Bidemi Yinusa (Head of School) and Mrs Essien Nsikan (School Administrator, Patrick Speech and Languages Centre) thanked everyone in the audience for their presence and support, on behalf of Mrs Dotun Akande. Finally, Mrs Victoria Tandoh gave the closing remarks and prayer.

AUTISM AND DIFFERENTIATED LEARNING

Pure Souls Learning Foundation in collaboration with 2ce fitness presented one day training on Autism and Differentiated Learning at Oxbridge Tutorial College, 49, Sobo Arobiodun Street, GRA, Ikeja-Lagos, Nigeria, on the 7th of April, 2018. The Registration started at 9:05 am and the training kicked off at 10:00 am, with a welcoming speech by Mrs. Aanu Senbanjo, who welcomed the trainees and also introduced the facilitator Mrs. Ivie Emokpae Okwuegbuna. Mrs. Ivie mentioned the teachers’ standards (section 5) effective from 1st September 2012. Adapt teaching to respond to the strengths and needs of all pupils Solution Know when and how to differenetiate appropriately, using approaches which enable pupils to be taught effectively Have a secure understanding of how a range of factors can inhibit pupils ability to learn, and how best to overcome these Demonstrate an awareness of the physical, social and intellectual development of children, and know how to adapt teaching to support pupils’ education at different stages of development. Solution Have a clear understanding of the needs of all pupils, including those with special educational needs; those of high ability; those with English as an additional language; those with disabilities; and be able to use and evaluate distinctive teaching approaches to engage and support them. Mrs. Ivie mentioned the categories of special needs which are: Language and communication Cognitive and learning Physical and sensory Social, emotional and mental health She said we need to know the child(ren)’s barrier first, before we can help the child learn, and that is why there is need to differentiate. She mentioned the tools that can be used when planning for differentiation; they are differentiated questioning and differentiated marking. The differentiation labels or levels are: Learning difficulties Disability Special educational needs Mrs. Ivie talked about the layered strategy. Layered strategy is thinking about different objectives for different groups of children - the group could be minimum (what you want all children to know), median (what you want the majority of children to understand), maximum (what some of the children have reached), tangent (where some children have gone off track) and optimum (those children that have overachieved your expectations). Mrs. Ivie mentioned that for us to differentiate learning, we must recognize the barriers that could affect learning which are: Language and communication Cognitive and learning Physical and sensory Social, emotional and mental health. Also, we need to recognize the different types of memory, that is: autobiographical, episodic, procedural, semantic, and working memory. Furthermore she said differentiation is bigger than what we think, because we need to differentiate in the classroom, their targets, their groupings, their activities, their contents etc. She illustrated the one plan/pupil profiles: Observe the child Know the child’s name / background Know the child’s barrier Know the likes and dislikes of the child In conclusion, Mrs. Ivie said repetition is the way special needs children learn. Food and drinks were given to all in attendance. Mrs. Senbanjo thanked everyone for coming. The program ended at 1:30 pm with 107 attendees, after which there was a group photograph.

DIET AND HEALTH TRAINING

It was a wonderful time with Dr.OlufemiLadeinde (a medical practioner and nutritionist consultant) from the United Kingdom as Patrick Speech and Languages Centre in conjunction with Pure Soul Learning Foundation held their first quarterlyseries of training programmes for year 2018, on “Mental Health for Families”, a nutritional support for healthy living. The training took place on February 17th, 2018,at Edgewood College, Plot 3 Block 14, KayodeOtitojuStreet, off Admiralty way, Lekki Phase 1, Lagos. The topic for the training was “Diet and Health” the dynamics of food. It was a period of mind blowing discussion on the importance of supporting the body by eating the right food so that our bodies get all the vitamins and nutrients they need for our well-being. The training started at10: 50 am with a welcome address and introduction of the facilitator (DrLadeinde) by MrsAanuSenbanjo followed by an opening prayer by MrsOrimoloye. The participants of the training include parents,teachers and therapists. The facilitator elaborated on significance of supporting the body by eating the right food. He made us to know that if all the nutrients are in our food, we do not need to take medicine. He therefore said that we should make food our medicine and medicine our food, so that the body can deal with issues by itself i.e fight against germs and diseases. He revealed that 90% of sicknesses that people suffer from are due to what they eat, and not eating what they’re supposed to. He revealed that medicine we take,method of processingand preserving foodnowadays, have negative side effects thatdamage our health. This is so because they contain chemicals that reduce the level of acid which break down food in the body system and when this acid drops, digestion becomes a problem and thus leading to sicknesses.  He said that the age of puberty has drop from 13-14 years to 8-9 years due to the way food is being produced and the chemical used.  People are been fed by food and health industries that pay no attention to health. They produced food like any other commodities such as clothes which are harmful to health. He makes us understand that health is not how we look or feel, but rather how we are functioning inside. It is also a state of complete physical, mental and social well- being. He said that true health includes an understanding of how the environment impacts our health. Therefore, we should take a critical look at our environment such as the work place, food, water, electronics, living room, sleeping space and clothes, as these can put great pressure on our adrenal glands that can cause sickness. He said foods are either nutrient dense or calorie dense. If our food is more of calories, our body is getting more calories than it needs; it will be forced to do something with the excess energy. In this case, the body is not getting enough nutrients, and enzyme systems will not work properly and detoxification will not take place, leading to sickness. He makes us to know that every disease has a toxin overload, as well as inflammation base, and if we cannot douse the flames of inflammation and carry out constant detoxification, disease will emerge. So to avoid this, we should eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, take anti-inflammatory supplements such as turmeric or fish oil, and avoid refined carbohydrates. He also advised that we should addthe following spices to our food: cloves, ginger,rosemary and turmeric as these prevent and cure some inflammatory conditions. At this juncture, MrsAkande appreciates the facilitator and encouraged the participants to try to make a difference in people’s lives in any situation they find themselves. She also made known, how her son is able to attain great heights in his education just because he based his diet on ewedu, amala and beans i.e natural foods,which is not known to her that the kind of food her son is eating is working for his immune system. After snack time, the facilitator continued with the training by advising the participants to build their diet around 3 food nutrients: dark green vegetable, protein and healthy fats.  He said food is the cornerstone of health. For it to be effective, digestion and assimilation have to be optimal. To avoid disease, we should watch what we eat, de-stress and detoxify. During questions and answers session,different questions were asked by the participants and the facilitator was able to provide solutions to the participants’ questions individually, and to their utmost satisfaction. He also encouraged participants to base their food on essential oil, coconut oil, ginger, garlic etc as these could be used as curative and prevention in measure. The participants were very happy for attending such training like this. After the training, MrsAkande appreciated the participants and informed them about the subsequent ones. A group picture was taken, and the training was brought to an end.

ANNUAL SPORTS DAY EVENT 2018

The annual sports day of the Centre was held on Friday 23rd February, 2018 at the Nitel Stadium/playground Oshodi Isolo Local Government Area, Oshodi, Lagos. There were 3 major Houses that were involved in the competition for the events namely Crystal House (Green), Treasure House (Red) and Diamond House (Yellow). The staff, children and parents were evenly distributed into each of these Houses to support and participate. There were 8 coaches in attendant (male and female) that were supervising and guiding the children in the course of the competition. The program started with an opening prayer by Miss Bose followed by a rendition of the National anthem by Master Abiodun Trombi pupils of Patrick Speech and Languages Centre, The event was declared open by the Head of school, in the person of Mr Bidemi. The Inter House Sports event was embedded with lots of activities which included running with hurdles, sack race, throwing of balls, picking of balls, tyre race, walking with hurdles,  lego building, filling in the bottle and obstacle course. All our children present at the event participated well and were cheered by the spectators. The main aim of the event was to build and promote social interaction skills of the children. Other invited special schools ‘Manna Children Centre and The Learning Place’ were also in attendant and they participated in almost all the above listed events. The occasion had in attendance, Mrs. Alaba Fadairo, Director, office of the special adviser to the governor, representing the Special Adviser to Lagos state. Mrs. Olukanmi Abokhai, director, school social work, representing Commissioner for Youth and Social Development. Dr Alejo Adebgoyega, deputy General Manager, LASODA. A.V.M. Femi Gbadegbo, Founder of Benola. Our parents also participated in the 100m walking with hurdles (male and female). Medals were presented to athletes who participated in each of these activities. In all, the overall winner was Treasure (Red) House, and they were presented with a Golden Trophy for their excellent performance; while Diamond House came second and Crystal House came third. It was indeed a day to remember as everyone present enjoyed the sumptuous meal that was served. The event was brought to a close with a closing remark by the proprietress, Mrs Dotun Akande and the vote of thanks was given by the Head of School Mr Bidemi Yinusa.

3-DAY FREE THERAPY OUTREACH

Our free consultation held between the 15th - 17th of March, 2018.  It was phenomenal and educational – our phone lines were busy due to phone calls coming in for enquiries and appointments. The programme came about as a result of enquires from the huge number of families with children living with disabilities that cannot afford services to help their children live more fulfilling lives. Consequently, people approach our Centre daily for help. We concluded that the best way to help is to give the parents skills that they can use in the home environment to support their child. The next step was to get the families together. We then went on radio station, and social media as part of our efforts to bring this laudable programme to all and sundry. Expectedly, people turned up in droves, as they began to arrive as early as 7am for a program billed for 9am.  They came from places as far as Ibadan, Jos, Abeokuta as well as the inclusive schools.  The response was overwhelming. Staff were on ground to get the venue ready, and to receive the participants who were already too eager to be attended to.  Consultants and volunteers also came in one after the other and started work immediately. Notably, consultants came from far and near such as Port Harcourt and other parts of Lagos to lend their support to this laudable programme. The first port of call was the registration stand, where we had as many as eight to ten staff in charge of registration.  Then the participants and their children began the day with the staff asking preliminary questions about their children to know which one of the consultants they needed to see.  These ranged from: Occupational Therapist, Speech Therapist, Behavioural, Counseling, Pediatrician, Educational Diagnostics, Audiologist, Nutritionist, Physiotherapist, Psychologist, and last but not the least Psychiatrist. On the first day there was a large crowd of about 56 people, and more were turned back at the gate due to time constraints, that is, there would not have been enough time to see them one on one, since they came late.  They were told to come back the following day. Days two and three were equally crowded from statistics.  However, some people could not wait to see the therapists because the day was far spent. A total of 106 persons were seen by therapists during the 3-day outreach program. Those present were separated into groups: Down Syndrome, Autism and Cerebral Palsy, hearing impairment and speech-related problems, and medical issues which ranged from issues with sight, hearing, mobility, sensory – all combined in a child; also seizures and mental retardation. On the whole, 32 cases of Autism were treated, 31 cases of Cerebral Palsy were also dealt with, while 7 of Down Syndrome cases were seen.  However, those with hearing impairment numbered 8, and there were 6 medical cases.  Those with nutritional needs were told the kinds of foods to eat and what to avoid, while the Psychologist worked on the importance of their roles as parents, and how to handle their children with disabilities. As a follow up, they will be added to a whatsapp group so as to enable us follow the progress of their children as well as inform them of what will further help them to acquire more skills on caring for their loved ones living with disabilities.  Also, there will be quarterly workshops organized for parents of individuals living with Autism so as to keep them in tune with on –going trends in the field. Apart from the free advice/consultation from the consultants, the crowd was treated to sumptuous snacks, for which they were grateful.  A lot of them acknowledged the fact that it was a laudable event and would love to have a repeat.

2018 VALENTINE’S DAY REPORT

The Valentine’s Day celebration is an annual event at our centre which is aimed at fostering social interaction among the children. The event of the day commenced at about 11.25am with an opening prayer by Bose Missionary.  The children dressed gorgeously in red and white attires and the party kicked off with a question “Why Are We Here?”  Abiodun was the first to answer. He said “We are here because it is Valentine’s Day”. Emmanuel Okorie then added that we were gathered to show love. The children came out to dance in batches, together with the staff. There were lots of thriving social activities which included “dancing round the chair” and “tray dance” by the children and staff. There were different rounds and winners emerged from each round. Gifts were awarded to winners of each competition. There was another round of dance by all the children who were dressed in white and red, after which Mr. Val and Miss Val (Ademide and Bose Missionary) were presented with gifts. Not only were the children excited, the staff also had a fun-filled day with several activities. The programme came to a close at 1.10pm with a group photograph of the staff and the children.

VALENTINE’S DAY REPORT

VALENTINE’S DAY REPORT The Valentine’s Day celebration is an annual event of Patrick Speech and Language Centre which aims at fostering social interaction among the children. This year’s celebration was unique, as the children had a fun-filled day. The event of the day commenced at about 11.25 am with an opening prayer by Abiodun Trombi.  The children dressed gorgeously in red and white attires and the party kicked off with a question “Why Are We Here?”  The children were made to understand that we were here to celebrate Valentine’s Day, which means sharing love and gifts among one another. There were lots of thriving social activities which included “Tray and Rounding the Chair Dance Competitions” by the children and staff.  Gifts were awarded to winners of each competition. Also we had Mr. Val and Miss Val (Chinaza Okafor and Olama Akhigbe) Of The Day and they were presented with gifts. Not only were the children excited, the staff also had a fun-loved day with several activities. The lovely day came to a close at 1.15 pm with a group photograph of the staff and the children.

UNDERSTANDING DIVINE HEALING 2017

A one-day seminar titled “Understanding Divine Healing” was organized by the Centre with the initiative for the care of children with developmental disorders, on Saturday 18th February, 2017. The seminar took place at Guiding Light Of Assembly Church, Park View Estate Ikoyi, Lagos. The programme started with an opening prayer, followed by praise and worship session and then talks from different speakers. The first speaker, Dr. Edebi Otefe, an occupational psychiatrist and psychologist gave a talk titled “Healing is God’s will”. He made it known that God can heal in two dimensions i.e, He can heal instanteously and can heal without medical intervention. He concluded by saying that God might not always take away the disease, and he made reference to Paul’s condition in the Bible. The second speaker,  Mrs Uche Mbagwu talked on the topic  “Faith for healing”. She spoke about the components of faith (trust, confidence, belief and expectancy),as well as the hindrances to faith with biblical references. The third speaker, Mrs Dotun Akande, gave a word of exhortation titled “Why me syndrome?”, citing references from the Bible. She spoke on the treasure God placed in the hands of humans which we don’t take cognizance of. She also admonished the audience to see with faith what God has perfected in their hands.  After the talks, the audience was invited to share testimonies and ask questions, after which the closing prayer was offered, and lunch was served.

DANCE-A –THON WITH AUTISM

The previous annual Autism awareness has always been in form of rallies, but this  year’s Autism awareness took another dimension. Four organizations - Patrick Speech and Languages Centre, TLP Centre, Children Development Centre, and Autism Parents Association International - collaborated together to dance for autism to create awareness tagged: DANCE-A –THON WITH AUTISM.   The program was held on April 8, 2017, by 7am, at Freedom Park, Marina. The program started with a prayer by Mrs.Dotun Akande, after which she introduced the organisers to the audience one after the other.   An opening speech was delivered by Babs Akinyeye, a representative of Dr. Mrs. Idiat Oluranti Adebule, Deputy Governor of Lagos State. She said the event was a good program for mobilization of support for the dignity, rights and well-being of these special persons. She added that we need to increase awareness of the gains to be derived from integration of these special people in every aspect of life, while discouraging all forms of discrimination against them.   The second speech was given by Mrs.Salaudeen Taibat Abiola, a representative of the Commissioner of Health Lagos state, who commended our past Autism awareness programs, and encouraged us to continue the good work.   At our booth, T-shirts with the dance logo were sold and there was a display of crafts made by our children.   It was a good way to celebrate Autism Awareness Month with parents and siblings, therapists, family and friends, caregivers, and nongovernmental organizations.   A total number of 47 people registered with us.

Interview with Vanessa Okwara

Mrs. Dotun Akande of Patrick Speech and Language Centre, the first school in Nigeria that caters for children with autism exclusively, spoke with Vanessa Okwara on the issues with autism in Nigeria Excerpts of Interview with Sunday Mirror of November 27, 2011 Can you tell us about your child born with autism? My son Agboola (Patrick) was delayed in speech. He was delayed in everything. He developed very well till he was about two years old. But every single thing like brushing of hair, coordination, putting on his trousers, we had to teach him. I started wondering what this is. At 18 months he had speech problem. He could say ‘mummy’, ‘bye’, but gradually going into two years old, all the speech was lost. He didn’t have any words. He would want something from me and stand in front of me but he would not have any words. He would only run from one end of the room to another and I knew within me that something was wrong. Eventually I met a paediatrician who told me he had autism. She explained to me what autism was because I didn’t understand. I was amazed that something like that was around. When I got to know what it was I ran with it. I went to his school, got a teacher to teach him one on one after school all that was taught in class all over again. I got a piano teacher for him and I got a speech and language therapist. These three combination and as well as me teaching him things as little as scooping food and putting it in his mouth by himself without spilling helped him a lot. We had to virtually teach him everything. When did your son pick up his speech? My son started speaking a few words we could hear at four years with words like ‘take’;’me’;’water’;’cup’. By that time he was still going to a regular school. There was no special school for children with autism then. All we had was school for disabled children and I thought to myself he will work better where his special needs are met. Another thing that baffled me was even though he didn’t have speech, he did not stop learning. He will still learn everything they were teaching in class but he was still not able to express himself. So there was something going on his brain that will be the problem. Even though his writing was very bad, he was still able to put something down. I was amazed that even with the lack of speech, learning was on. By the time he was six years old, he was able to start putting words together by stringing words like ‘my cup; ‘my book’ and all that. I learnt to be patient with his style of doing things. As time went on, he eventually caught up and I was very happy. When I saw that my son was released, I plunged into starting Patrick School to help other kids such challenges. The school is named after him. It is the first of its kind in Nigeria solely focused on educating children with autism. How did you start? Funding is always the major challenge but I heard from God to start this school, I went to the bank, GT Bank to be precise and they were very receptive and gave us some money to start. That is how we started, we never advertised. It is now that we are a bit full that we are thinking of doing an awareness. Not to advertise the school but to let people know the challenges children born with autism go through. So that when they see the red flags in their child they can immediately seek help. The first is lack of speech and behavioural challenges such as anti-socal behaviours. You will start noticing these things when they are about 18th months. Read more about this article in Sunday Mirror of 27 November, 2011

Monalisa Chinda on Autism Awareness

Nollywood Star Monalisa Chinda promotes Autism Awareness in Nigeria. Photos from her birthday visit to the Patrick Speech & Languages School. Excerpt posted on Thursday, September 22nd, 2011 by BellaNaija.com at 6:58 PM Children with learning disabilities and disorders such as Autism face a tough challenge in Nigeria due to the limited number of special school equipped to nurture them. Nigerian actress, Monalisa Chinda decided to support one of these remarkable schools on her birthday earlier this month. She visited the Patrick Speech & Languages School in Lagos where she met the administrator, Dotun Akande, staff and students of the school. Monalisa was given a tour of the school, briefed about the challenges the children face and also the work that the school does. She brought provisions and other household items that are needed by the students. It was a fun day for the students of the school as they got to meet one of their favorite Nollywood stars. What were you doing prior to setting up Patrick? I was a banker. What actually prompted me into the world of autism was my son. At about twelve months, he had a bit of speech, at about eighteen months he started having a bit of regression in speech and later he stopped talking. I did not know what to do, I started going to hospitals and they said he will later talk. I met a doctor who eventually told me, my son had autism, that was my first time of coming in contact with it and he gave me an insight into it. He advised me to get him a speech therapist, after school programmes and bombard him with a lot of activities to help him out. At age four, with a speech therapist coming in, he started gaining words, and playing the piano. We had to teach him all these skills like buttoning his shirt, combing his hair, wearing his clothes because sometimes he wears his shirt to the back, his trousers to one side and he keeps walking like nothing has hapened. The truth is that if you work with that child early enough, you can get a total child, for instance, my son is now in secondary school and he is coping though he has challenges in some areas but he is coping as he moves along the line. How do you convince parents that their children have this defect? Once I know something, I run with it, I do not care about what people will say. People are scared about what family members will say about the health of their child. Sometimes, a lot of spiritual attack is attributed to this and what people will assume is that the person has a mental disorder since you can’t see it in the face. For me I ran with it, I did not deny the fact that my son had challenges. I started earlier and got the result. The problem we have in Nigeria today is stigmatization, there are instances people will ask me why I am telling everybody that my son has autism. Don’t you think you should keep it within the family and I say if I do other families will not learn from it and that is why Patrick is alive today

Why I left Banking to Cater for Autistic Children

Dr. (Mrs.) Dotun Akande, is the brain behind Patrick Speech and Languages Centre, GRA, Ikeja The centre is for adults and children with auatism between the ages of three and twenty seven. The graduate of University of Ado Ekiti speaks on why she dumped banking to care for children with autism. Excerpts of Interview with Sunday Punch of May 15, 2011 Can you enlighten us more on autism? Autism is a develpment that affects children in the area of communication, social skills and imagination. You can call it the autistic spectrum disorder. Those on the lower end can actually function in the society. Though you may find them a bit different, quiet, not mixing with other people and like only people they are famiilar with around them. There is a lady who when she goes out is afraid to look at people’s faces because she would see fragments of faces, she sees the eyes, nose and mouth separately and she is afraid to go out. For that reason, she doesn’t drive, when she goes out, she looks down because she is afraid to look at people. What were you doing prior to setting up Patrick? I was a banker. What actually prompted me into the world of autism was my son. At about twelve months, he had a bit of speech, at about eighteen months he started having a bit of regression in speech and later he stopped talking. I did not know what to do, I started going to hospitals and they said he will later talk. I met a doctor who eventually told me, my son had autism, that was my first time of coming in contact with it and he gave me an insight into it. He advised me to get him a speech therapist, after school programmes and bombard him with a lot of activities to help him out. At age four, with a speech therapist coming in, he started gaining words, and playing the piano. We had to teach him all these skills like buttoning his shirt, combing his hair, wearing his clothes because sometimes he wears his shirt to the back, his trousers to one side and he keeps walking like nothing has hapened. The truth is that if you work with that child early enough, you can get a total child, for instance, my son is now in secondary school and he is coping though he has challenges in some areas but he is coping as he moves along the line. How do you convince parents that their children have this defect? Once I know something, I run with it, I do not care about what people will say. People are scared about what family members will say about the health of their child. Sometimes, a lot of spiritual attack is attributed to this and what people will assume is that the person has a mental disorder since you can’t see it in the face. For me I ran with it, I did not deny the fact that my son had challenges. I started earlier and got the result. The problem we have in Nigeria today is stigmatization, there are instances people will ask me why I am telling everybody that my son has autism. Don’t you think you should keep it within the family and I say if I do other families will not learn from it and that is why Patrick is alive today

Interview with Josephine Igbinovia of Sunday Vanguard

Dr. (Mrs.) Dotun Akande, the Founder/Proprietress of PSLC tells Josephine Igbinovia of Sunday Vanguard on Vista Woman that Autism is not a lifelong disorder Some excerpts of Interview with Sunday Vanguard, September 26, 2010 The Journey so far We are five years old this year, and we are really grateful to corporate organizations and foundations that have really been helpful to us. GTB is one of them. With the help of these donors, we were able to invite Lagos State primary school educators to come for our training for free. We were able to invite six special schools, health workers, etc., for free. We believe that it would be helpful for them to be knowledgeable on how to manage children with speech and language delay, like we find in children with autism. I am also grateful to God because we are coping. Last session, we were able to send four children to regular schools. However, I want to point out that most of the children we have sent to regular schools overtime are children that came here early. That is why we keep resounding that early intervention is the key. We also have some children, who though are doing fine, have not yet reached the level where they will be able to cope in a regular school. About autism Autism is a complex neurological disorder that affects the normal functioning of the brain. It appears in the first three years of the life of a child, and its actual cause is unknown. There still is not any new discovery on autism. So what we do to enable us help children with autism is that we examine the child to know the right therapy that will help. Autism is not a lifelong disorder. It is just a challenge in a developmental stage. Children with autism learn a little bit slower than normal children, but they learn. Let us forget about the stage at which they learn, the fact is that they learn. These children cannot live a dependent life for the rest of their lives if intervention is started early. I always tell parents not to wait until they start throwing chairs before they start seeking help. If that child had been brought for intervention before that stage, we would have done behavioural therapy for him or her. Then if he child is still not able to attain speech and communication. We look for alternative ways of helping. This we can do through pictures and signs. Most people are running away from signs, but the truth is that there is nothing wrong with it. If that is the child own way of learning how to communicate, so be it. We all have different ways of doing things. How parents can help children develop speech A lot of parents who bring their children panic a lot when they notice that their children are not developing speech, and most times, these children develop speech without even having to spend up to two months at our centre. Hence, I will like to use this avenue to let parents know how they can help their babies develop speech. There are some exercises that can help a child’s speech. An example of this is blowing. If a child blows bubbles early, it helps to shape the mouth of the child. Other exercise that help in speech and language development are blowing of balloons, sipping with the straw, licking, sucking (even the breast) etc. Pregnant mothers can help their children overcome speech below even before they are born. This they can do by rubbing their stomach with their palms and singing to the unborn baby. Appeal to government There are so many children out there suffering from autism, but whose parents cannot afford to enroll them in a special school. Many of these children may end up dependent for life if nothing is done to help them, and that is why I am calling on government to come in to help in the fight against autism. They said that they have special units in public schools, but the question is ‘How many pupils to a teacher?’ Helping children with special needs is not just capital intensive but human capital intensive. The move is a welcomed development, but I would implore the government to get more hands because teaching children with special needs requires one teacher to one pupil.

Interview with Bukola Adebayo

The founder and director, Patrick Speech and Language Centre, Lagos, the solely autism centre in Nigeria, Mrs. Dotun Akande, in her interview with BUKOLA ADEBAYO, says autism is no longer a rate disorder and that it can be detected as early as six month Excerpts of Interview with Punch of May 4, 2011 What are the symptons of autism? The first sign that parents notice is no-speech from 2 to 18 months or 24 months. The child does not connect with eye contact, is hyperactive, jumps from one place to the other and finds it difficult to settle. Some will say that the child is spoilt not knowing that the child has challenges. Autistic children have a lot of stimuli coming in. They have sensory processing disorder and they can’t filter it, so in order to regulate, they keep jumping up and down. They want to eat a particular food all the time, laugh inappropriately or cry anyhow and display other emotions. They could suddenly burst into tears when they are talking with someone. They do not sometimes recognise their parents and close relations. They are in their own world; they could even be looking at people from the corner of their eyes. Those are the bizarre behaviour they exhibit. The autistic child takes himself out of the crowd and wants to be alone and if you move next to him/her, he/she moves away. Some of them shut their eyes because the sun ray is too much.They have odd behaviour. It is a combination of many things, because there are some that have no speech and do not have the other symptoms. That child is not autistic because you could work with the child for six months and he starts to talk. So delay speech is not necessarily attributed to autism. Are there ways mothers can avoid giving birth to autistic children? Right now there is no way, because the reason why autism is here we do not know. Some people say if you marry late but we have found people that got married early with autistic children. I know some say that it is when they give their child a vaccination that they observe a loss of skills in the children, because some of the attributes of autistic children are that they sow no speech, no language, no attention, not wanting to interact with people. Although at 18 months when you give some babies the Measles Mumps Rubella vaccine, they regress, they loose all skills, but the underlying fact is that some children take MMR and they do well. So there must be something in the genes of the child that regesses which must have been triggered off by the vaccination. We do not know what causes autism, so we cannot even prevent it. It cuts accross the less priviledged children to the more priviledged families. It’s not about care, it is not that I can take better care of my child. It cuts across. We all face the same challenges plus MMR. It is not common in public hospitals, it’s in private hospitals and you still have people from poor families still giving birth to autistic children. But some doctors and medical professional still say autism is rare in Nigeria, is tha true? It is not rare. It is far from being rare. When I first started this centre, the number of enquiries I got from people was overwhelming. Many families are going through this, they are many, some of these children are being kept in the house, some of them are not in regular schools, some of them are in special schools for the mentally-retarded and psychiatric hospitals. It cuts across because a lot of people didn’t know what it was or what it is and they are still battling with the symptoms. That is the only way you can work with a child with autism. You observe the child and you run with it. So we will say it is not a rare disorder anymore, because if you take two, three or four people, you will find out they have families with children with autism and from the world’s assessment, one in 150 people lives with autism, so in Nigeria, it means we have one million children and adults living with autism. So, it’s not rare.

Interview with Edumark Magazine

Can you tell us about yourself? I’m a mother of three, I read economics and was a banker with First City Merchant Bank from where I moved to Broad Bank where I worked for a short while, I was in my room one day, when the thought dropped in my spirit to start a centre for children with autism. I resigned and went on training for a year so as to equip myself. We actually started Patrick Speech Centre in 2005 but we opened our doors in 2006. What is this Patrick Speech Centre all about? The reason why Patrick Speech was set up is because I have a son who has traces of autism. The school runs from about 9am to 2.30pm daily with children ranging from two years to twenty seven years. The total capacity of the centre is forty. In the centre once we notice that a child has improved greatly we release him to go to a regular school. We also have an after school program that runs between 2pm and 4pm. How has the journey been so far? I’s been nice. We started with three children and the number has since increased to what we have today. A lot of people wonder why we don’t advertise but I’m of the opinion that if we do well, our work will advertise us. A lot of families bring their children to the centre, they come to us if they have challenges, we work with these families and advice them on what to do as the kids improve. It is interesting to see a child who came into the school and couldn’t talk but after enrolling in the school he develops the ability to talk gradually, you can’t quantify it. At the centre we use more of visual aids when teaching the children. We don’t teach in abstract, they have to see to learn. What are the signs of autism in children? The first thing you will notice is that the child is not talking at the right time. For example, a child is lying down and you say ‘Hello how are you?’, the child looks into your eyes but if it is a child with severe autism, he will not look into your eyes. He will just be staring at you. Even if you say ‘Look there is a bird in the sky’ the child does not follow your gaze i.e. looking from your hands then up into the sky. So these are the signs you can look out for. You might not necessarily trace it to autism but that child’s development is mentally delayed. For instance if you notice a child of about a year old who excludes himself while everybody is playing in a group, he stays in a corner or probably picks up the phone and instead of saying hello, he is only fascinated by the light coming up and going off. These are some of the traces you see. You see a delay in development such as lack of speech, lack of social skills, not being able to point, for instance there is something on the shelf and he needs it, he grabs an adults hand to point. Are children with autism emotionally sensitive? Children with special needs are very emotional just like every other person. They have their happy times and also have their sad times. They have their down times and their overly happy times. They have a shut down system when things are not going their way. So they feel the same other children feel. The only difference is that they might not be able to express it. Some of them have a high potency for pain. They can take pain at any level while some have a very low potency, by the time you touch them they start crying. If you move in their direction they become scared and withdraw. They are highly emotional and highly sensitive.

Mrs. Dotun Akande tells Chinyere Fred Adegbulugbe some of the challenges she faces as a Parent of an Autistic Child

Excerpts of Interview with Punch of May 17, 2009 Have you had any personal experience with autism? Yes, my second son was diagnosed of autism at 18 months and we just didn’t know what to do until he was about two when we met someone, a doctor who told us that he had autism. And that was the first time I ever heard of the word, autism. What was your reaction? Well, I will say I am a very active person so I immediately got into action. Yes, I had moments when I was down but really I wanted to know what step to take. She told me it was either I went to the United States or the United Kingdom or stayed back here. I told her I could’t afford to go to either US or the UK and then she told me what to do. She said that I should get him out of school one hour daily and do after school practice with him. I got him a piano teacher, I got him a lesson teacher and also a speech therapist; every minute of the day he was doing one thing or the order and that really helped. How old is he now? He is 11 years about to enter secondary school in September. And how is he doing? He is learning very well. They learn very well; they are very intelligent, only that you have to teach them to learn. They do learn but they take their time to learn. They are not like others who watch others and learn, no, you have to teach them that this is the way to do it and then they learn. They are practical learners. What are some of the challenges you have faced as a parent of an autistic child? In Nigeria, it is mostly acceptance, accepting that my child has a challenge and I have to work with it. And then every day is a challenge because whatever challenge that child comes up with, you have to look for a way to teach that child a particular way of learning. The main challenge I have is teaching my child the social skills of life and how to understand jokes, because they don’t understand jokes. They don’t understand sarcasm so you have to teach them how to learn it. There was a particular parent who took his autistic son to church and the son was displaying an odd behaviour. The woman beside him said why did you bring this kind of son to church and he said, ‘He is my son, he has autism’. She replied that the boy did not belong to a place like that, and went ahead to suggest that the father should take him to a mental home. You can imagine how the man felt. And these are issues that others have to cope with especially when they are older.

Dotun Akande bares her mind to Adaeze Amos of Sunday Punch on her fears and regrets

Excerpts of Interview with Punch of April 8, 2007 You run a special school for children, what is it all about? I run a special school known as Patrick Speech and Languages Centre. Its a school for children with autism. I was working in a Bank and all of a sudden I found myself in this field because I have a son who was autistic and I had to work with him on my own. After a couple of years, about four, five years, we found he can be helped. It is not a disorder that cannot be helped if you work on such children at an early stage. Autism, in your son didn’t scare you or make you lose focus, what then can get you scared? Having a child in my centre that will not respond to treatment, that is my greatest fear. If you will have to live your life again, will you still do what you are doing now? Yes, I will do that. I love working with children. It is a pleasure for a little boy to walk into my office and walk through the door into my school and I see the boy run towards me to give me a hug. If If come back again and again, I will work with these children. They open up like flowers. You see them opening up every petal in their lives. Most people have regrets in life, what is yours? My regret is that I should have gone in the first instance to become a teacher. When I was in school, I hated teachers. my regret is that I should have gone deeper into it to work on the lives of these children. I should have gone to a teacher training college to train as a teacher. I would really have loved that. If you were to ask God something, what would it be? Father, why do we have these children among us that we can’t understand? And since 1944, we have had autism in our midst and nobody has been able to find a cure because we don’t understand these children. When last did you shed tears and what caused it? It was a pleasure for an autistic little boy to walk through the door into my office and he ran towards me and gave me a hug and said “Good morning, Ma” I hugged him, carried him and and cried. I remember shedding tears of joy, thanking God for that little child. It was a divine joy for me to see one of my children that couldn’t say anything walk up to me to say good morning ma. Some women spend fortunes celebrating birthdays, how much did you spend when you celebrated your last birthday? I don’t spend fortunes on birthdays. Rather, I prefer celebrating when an autistic child start doing things he couldn’t do before. For instance, I prefer celebrating clapping. What I mean is that I celebrate when a five-year old who couldn’t clap because of autism starts clapping or a child who has problems with his speeches starts to speak. It gives me joy to celebrates that than my birthday. I celebrate a child for saying ‘ha’. That is what I take delight to celebrate for. They are the little things of life I celebrate, not my birthday. See Punch of April 8, 2007 for complete text of interview.

First Autistic School Opens in Lagos

The first Autistic School was formally established in Ikeja GRA, Lagos last friday and its is the first of its kind in Nigeria. Although there are some Special Schools for the deaf and Dumb and physically challenged including the Federal College of Education (Special) Oyo but this very one, Patrick Speech and Languages Centre (PSLC) is the first of its kind in the whole country. The school is also a registered member of the National Autistic Society, UK. In her speech, Dotun Akande, the Proprietress of the Centre who also happens to be the daughter of the famous Ijebu Chief Engineer Fowora, stated that the reasons and objectives establishing the Centre amongst other things is to provide special education services for the mentally challenged, hearing and speech impaired children, assist children with intellectual disabilities become self-confident, to bring about awareness in the local community towards rehabilitation of intellectually disabled children among others. The centre which started with just about 2 children in September 2006 now has 16 children enrolled in the centre. The Proprietress appealed to parents not deny any of their wards who is handicapped in any form the opportunity of coming to the Centre for the rehabilitation of their children among others. Among those who have contributed to the upliftment of the Centre both financially or otherwise are Engr Mrs Fowora, Otunba and Mrs, Bimbo Ashiru, Seye Kehinde, Publisher of City People, Mr and Mrs Segun Awolowo and of course, GT Bank and many more. To know more about this centre, visit the website at www.pslcautism-ng.org

On The Set of New Dawn With Funmi Iyanda Topic: Children With Special Needs.

Wed 17 January 2007 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.

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.