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Autism: FCT set to introduce Inclusive Education to support special needs children.

By Regina Onyegbula
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The Deputy Director, Special Needs Education, FCTA Education Secretariat, Mrs. Jean Onyekwelu said that the FCT is set to introduce inclusive education to educate and support children with special needs in the state.

Onyekwelu said this at an Autism Support Group Seminar, organised by Our Lady of Guadalupe (OLG) Health Foundation And Autism Centre in collaboration with NISA Premier Hospital on Sunday in Abuja.

According to her, in 1994 Nigeria joined other countries to endorse the Salamanca proclamation which was the adoption of inclusive education.

''Inclusive education is where both children with special needs and normal children will receive quality education together without discrimination.

''This will help reduce trauma and stigmatisation from normal children and help give people with special needs sense of belonging.

''There are three schools in the FCT for special needs children and scholarship program is ongoing for them, but works are still on going to introduce Inclusive education in the state," she said’’.

The Chairman Board of Trustees, OLG Health Foundation, an NGO, EngrChidiIzuwah said that autism is the fastest growing serious developmental disability in the world.

According to Him, the aim of the seminar was to ensure that every child or adult impacted by autism or any other developmental challenge was given the opportunity to reach his or her full potential.

Izuwah who noted the theme as Defeat Autism in Nigeria (DAIN) said that autism was present in all races and classes of people adding that autism affects as many as 1 in 68 children.

He said that the DAIN project also aim at working with the National Assembly to ensure that a law for the Combat of Autism and an Expanded promise for Individuals Living with Autism was passed in Nigeria. ‘’with the above bill passed autism will be formally declared a primary healthcare threat to the life of the Nigeria child and mandatory funding for NGOs to provide support for autism is made available

Therefore, He said that the better means of combating autism and expanded promise for individuals living with autism, is by creating awareness and support for the fight against autism.

The Clinical Director OLG Health foundation, Dr. Doris Izuwah, said that autism has no known cause at the moment but environmental factors, not attending antenatal during pregnancy or prolonged labourcould lead to autism.

MrsIzuwah also urged parents with special needs children not to give up on their kids as patients and perseverance was key in defeating the defect.

Dr Monday Solomon, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, NISA Premier Hospital, Abuja, said that individuals with autism have enormous potentials.According to Solomon early recognition, intervention and assistance would help the children have a better chance of being integrated in the mainstream education.

''The topic for the Seminar '' Discovering and harnessing ability in disability and enhancing and maintaining learning in special needs children" is appropriately chosen by the foundation.

''This will enlighten important stakeholders, parents, health professionals, care givers and the media with the view to helping autistic children live better and achieve their potentials," he said.