Autism advocates struggle to help less fortunate individuals with autism in Nigeria

Abuja, Nigeria — Two very driven women have been striving hard to extend as much help as they can to individuals with autism in Nigeria.

Comprehensive Autism and related Disabilities Education and Training (CADET) Academy Executive Director Lola Aneke and Our Lady of Guadalupe Health Foundation and Autism Center Clinical Director Dr. Doris Izuvah have been doing everything they can, not only to raise awareness about autism in their country, but also to help the less fortunate who are dealing with the developmental disorder.

Nigeria has long been struggling with the lack of available resources needed by individuals and families dealing with autism, and it is feared that up to millions may be affected by the developmental disorder in the country— and most of them may not even be aware of it.

One of the supporters of Aneke and Izuyah’s advocacy, Nigerian Former Minister of Power Chinedu Nebo, says that the fact that a lot of people in the country are still unaware of the existence of the developmental condition is the biggest challenge. He told:

“The challenge is huge and that tells you the difficulties what those from the lower rung of the society. Some of these children were battered and beaten by their parents who thought they were stubborn, they were beaten because of what these children cannot control.”

“That is why awareness is crucial and the good thing is that it’s coming out in the open. That’s why I am glad by what Mrs. Lola Aneke and her team in CADET Academy is doing. We need people like this, not because they have come face to face with autism but just because she cares. She even had the option of staying back in the US to have a better pay. She is very passionate about this and what she is doing.”

According to Nebo, apart from the lack of awareness, most families caring for individuals with autism are also unable to provide the help the children need due to financial constraints. He told:

“I have come to understand that every individual with autism is unique in their own way. I can only imagine the difficulties faced by families, some seated here today, some out there and even more importantly, the low income earning families out there who do not have the sufficient means to cater for a child with autism and yet have to manage their time in working long hours just to food on their table.”

Aneke and Izuyah have already launched countless autism awareness campaigns in a bid to educate their fellow countrymen about the developmental condition, and how individuals affected by the condition could benefit from professional help such as early intervention. According to Aneke:

“Parents need to have access to the right information. And early intervention increases the chances of a child growing into a typical adult life.”

Aneke also launched a non-profit arm of CADET Academy called the Dewdrops Community Center for Special Needs and Vulnerable Women, which she launched in hopes of being able to help out individuals with autism as well as their families, who are living below the poverty line. She told:

“Through the Dewdrops Community Center, The C.A.D.E.T. Academy, will be bringing hope to an otherwise under-served group of the Nigerian society in terms of special education.”

Source: Senator Iroegbu on the website: Nigeria: Checkmating Ignorance, Poverty – Two Obstacles to Effective Autism Management