I went for the GTBank's 8th Annual Autism week. I was invited by my big sis Anne of @Mums24 and I have heard about Autism but in such a distant manner as I don't really know anyone who is living with Autism.

This event was such an eye opener for me and it was amazing to be able to be enlightened. If you are like me and have no clue what Autism is all about continue to read;

What is Autism spectrum disorder?

Autism, or autism spectrum disorder, refers to a range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication, as well as by unique strengths and differences. We now know that there is not one autism but many types, caused by different combinations of genetic and environmental influences.
The term “spectrum” reflects the wide variation in challenges and strengths possessed by each person with autism.
Autism’s most-obvious signs tend to appear between 2 and 3 years of age. In some cases, it can be diagnosed as early as 18 months. Some developmental delays associated with autism can be identified and addressed even earlier. Autism Speaks urges parents with concerns to seek evaluation without delay, as early intervention can improve outcomes. 
via Source

I went into the event not knowing what to expect and kind of feeling out of place. We went on the 2nd day of the event and I still learnt a lot. There were 4 speakers I listened to A Phychologist, A Public health Doctor, a school owner and a speech therapist. 

Dr Funmilayo Omotayo - The Phychologist talked about her experience in the UK providing support for families of children living with Autism. 

She shared her wealth of experience with parents of children living with Autism: Find below some of her key points;
  • There needs to be support structure for parents living with Autism to reduce stress on the parents
  • Early intervention with these families
  • The support structures for these parents will do the following; 
  • - Improve self confidence and self esteem and engagement in social activities
  • - Reduce Isolation 
  • - Increase awareness
  • - give them access to trainings
  • - access to resources
  • - Relief hours
Her key message is the importance of support of the families of Autistic children and the difference it can make in their lives. 

Public health Dr Noimot Balogun - Communities: Assets yet untapped 

Dr Noimot spoke about communities and the huge role they have to play in the awareness of Autism because it is people in these communities that will interact with the children and adult living with Autism and they will want us all to be armed with information to be able to better co-exist. 

She spoke under the 2 different communities that need to be reached; 

Informal Communities 
  • Religious communities; Parents engaging their religious leaders and making them aware about Autism, what it is and how they can make support structures available for other people. Also, they can also do talks educating other members of their religious bodies on how to interact with Autistic children in their environment.
  • Social relations e.g Market women, Motor parks; Talk in general meetings of these bodies to make them aware in order to reach more people in the grassroots to make them aware.
  • Targeted awareness (Roll up banners, role play ads etc.); Make Ads, banners to educate the general public
  • Political; Partner with people in power to also create awareness because most of the problem is lack of information by the general public. 

Formal Communities
  • Health Communities: In as much as we think Dr or other health workers should know about Autism, it is not common knowledge. She encouraged that there should also be awareness among the health communities especially the public health workers in order for them to have the right information and the right referrals in case they come accross any case. 
  • Non Inclusive communities

School Owner Mrs Bolanle Adewole - The strength of inclusion in a classroom

She founded an inclusice school and shared on how it also starts from the classroom as other children become aware as well and know how to exist and thrive with children with special needs arond them. 

How can school get involved?
  •  Admit children with special needs 
  • Professional trainings

As a teacher? 
  • Know each child
  • Bring the child with soecial needs close to them.
  • Understand the object of ther curriculum

Benefits of Inclusion
  •  Inclusion breeds acceptance 
  • Collaboration
  • Engage in basic life skills

Speech Therapist Ms Tomi Agboola How to help a child without having access to a speech therapist

The speech therapist basically gave real life scenarios of 10 life skills that the child needs to have to be independent and how to get parents, guardians to be able to help them develop these skills by communicating in the ways they would understand and that will be less intimidating. 

The key ways to help the child develop these life skills is;
  • To use soft voices - no shouting or impatience
  • Show while you tell - use visuals
  • Be consistent - Repeat till they start doing it themselves
  • Consistent praise, zero bashing. 

It was a really eye opening session for me and I only attended the first part of the 2nd day. I can imagine what my experience will be if I did attend all the sessions. I am really grateful to Dr Anne for inviting me. I really hoped that you were able to learn a thing or 2 from my recap. 

Link to the event brochure

Do you know anything about Autism?