As Nigerians joined the rest of the world to celebrate the 2019 World Autism Awareness Day, the Medical Director, Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Yaba, Lagos, Dr Oluyemi Ogun, has said early diagnosis of the condition will go a long way in reducing symptoms in patients.
The psychiatrist, who maintained that autism is not a spiritual attack, but a scientific problem, said there is need for enlightenment of the condition among parents, as it happens among children.“ We need to let people know that autism does occur in children; it is not a spiritual attack. It is a scientific problem. Unfortunately, it is a lifelong ailment, but one thing is that early diagnosis helps to ameliorate the symptoms”.
Ogun, who was speaking at seminar organised by the Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Yaba, and the Association of Families and Professionals for Autism Support, explained that autism could start from childhood.
“It is a neuro-developmental disability, an ailment that starts from childhood. It happens during the development of the child. When a child begins to have a problem with speech, being overtly quiet, always wanting to be alone, being abnormally aggressive, then the parents should take the child for diagnosis.
“We need to let people know that autism does occur in children; it is not a spiritual attack. It is a scientific problem. Unfortunately, it is a lifelong ailment, but one thing is that early diagnosis helps to ameliorate the symptoms,” Ogun said.
Also present at the symposium was Dr Grace Ijarogbe, a psychiatrist who specialised in child mental health at the same neuropsychiatric institution. She submitted that most children with autism have problems with self-care, toileting, feeding, dressing and this has become a burden to most parents. “Assistive technology is all about aiding the child to be able to achieve independence in terms of self-care.
“Individuals who have people living with autism should endeavour to take them for specialised care, allow them to socialise. There are several methods to help them learn fast; these children must be specially taught and if this is done repeatedly in a deliberate way, eventually they will begin to feel loved and will learn faster,” Ijarogbe said.
Another Consultant Psychiatrist, Dr Mashudat Bello-Mojeed, said the event was organised to raise the awareness on autism with a view to letting people know that it is a medical condition.
“We want people to understand that autism is a medical condition and there is hope for children with autism. We also want people to know how to identify autism symptoms early so the children with autism could be taken for early intervention.
“In terms of awareness, we are not doing enough in Nigeria; it should be an ongoing thing. People need to know how to identify children and individuals with autism and be able to connect them with the available treatment services,” Bello-Mojeed said.