In an effort to enlighten the public on the effect of autism and how to identify and care for autistic children, the coordinator, Ike Foundation for Autism, Dr Primerose Fagudze, has called on Nigerians and the federal government to support and give more attention to organisation and fighting the scourge.
She made this known recently during an awareness walk organised by Ace Gymcats in collaboration with Ike Foundation for Autism themed “Ace Gymcats Autism Walk 2018” in Abuja, which started off from the Unity Fountain to Federal Secretariat.
In an interview with LEADERSHIP Newspaper, Dr Primerose Fagudze, explained that Autism, which is better called Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) includes a continuum of neurodevelopment disorders characterised by deficits in social communication and interactions, along with restrictive, repetitive patterns of behaviours, interests and activities.
She said it shows up in the first few years of life, affecting a child’s communication and social functioning with classic symptoms of lack of eye contact and little or no speech.
“When you see a child with no or delayed speech; or one who makes odd sounds or facial expressions; may exhibit repetitive compulsive odd play patterns, unsociable and aggressive behaviour with frequent tantrums; a child who may inflict self- injury; and may show excessive noncompliance in response to routine environmental demands; such a child should be a cause for concern.”
“Autism is reported in all socio-economic, ethnic and religious groups: whites, blacks, hispanics; rich, poor, average; Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo; everyone is susceptible. Boys are four times more likely to be diagnosed with autism, than girls. Nigeria currently has no statistical data on the prevalence rates of autism, but IFA and the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics are collaborating to change that,” she explained.
According to the coordinator, in a new data released on the prevalence of autism in the United States by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 2014, their surveillance study identified 1 in 68 children (1 in 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls) as having autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This shows a rapid increase in autism cases in the USA, which is the general trend the world over.
“The first signs of autism most often present themselves before the age of three. Whenever a child isn’t meeting his developmental milestones in speech, behaviour and socially, he should see a doctor. Usually, parents are the first to notice abnormal patterns of behaviour in their children. Always voice your concerns to your child’s paediatrician.
Some kids start blabbing normally at age 1 and retrogress before age 2; that’s a very strong warning sign.
“In autism, we say that Early Intervention is Key! Like we said earlier, autism is not a disease, so doctors can’t just prescribe a drug to cure it. Children on the spectrum have to under-go a period of conditioning to adjust their behaviour, learn to talk coherently and express themselves socially. The earlier a child is diagnosed and commences therapy, the better. Early intervention programs are professionally developed programs to enable children diagnosed with autism, get early intervention therapies. Autism cannot be cured but with these intervention programs, children with ASD can be effectively managed,” she advised.
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