The founder, Centre for Autism and Development Disabilities, Mr. Okei-Martins Nwokolo, has called for the inclusion of autism screening in the regular routine checks for babies so as to encourage early diagnosis and intervention.

Nwokolo,who spoke at the awareness walk organised by the Autism Associates and Centre tagged, 'Lagos Walk 4 Autism,' which took place at the National Stadium in Surulere, Lagos, urged the Federal Government to take immediate actions that could help in detecting, diagnosing and managing autism as early as possible.

He also called on the Federal Government to promote policies that would ensure that persons and families living with affected persons have access to specialised health and educational services required.

'We are appealing to government as a matter of urgency, institute action committee that will study autism from a policy, service, health and educational perspectives,' He said.

According to him, autism is a neurological disorder, in which affected children have problems with verbal and non-verbal communication which manifests within the first three years of life leading to cognitive problems.

He said it could be effectively managed with professional assistance from psychologists, speech therapists,teachers, paediatricians and other related professionals.

He lamented that autism which he noted, was almost on an epidemic and phenomenal rise was yet to be recognised by Nigerians as a disability to be addressed.

This, he noted, manifested in the fact that there was a critical shortage of professionals in the field.

Nwokolo however called on philanthropic organisations to create sponsorship opportunities for therapists who are presently working with autistic children in the country.

The awareness walk which started from the National stadium in Surulere and ended at the National Orthopaedic hospital at Yaba, Lagos ,had other sister organisations in attendance including members of the Campaign for Democracy and the Actors Guild of Nigeria.