Gov’t Must Develop Policy, Data On Autistic Children —Expert
The lack of clear cut policies could be blamed for the abuse and neglect of children with autism in society.
Although the country’s health sector does not have accurate data on the condition, it is currently estimated that 1 in 87 children under the age of 3 years is affected by it.
The management of autism requires that children with autism be placed in specialized programs as soon as the diagnosis is suspected
Leonnie Lynn Lotsu, the Executive Director for the African Autism Awareness Project is asking government to develop friendly policies to cater to the need of children with autism in the country.
She indicated that autistic children who through no fault of theirs have suffered several abuses and inhumane treatment in the hands of parents and caretakers who completely ignorant of their condition.
“We don’t have statistics in this country to show how many children are diagnosed with autism. We need to develop policies that will focus on awareness creation to educate the society that autism is not a sickness but a medical disorder which can be managed. They are just human beings like us,” Mrs Lotsu stated.
She added that most parents and society have still failed to accepted children with autism because of low education and awareness.
In some parts of Ghana, the condition is still attributed to witchcraft or a curse from the gods, with affected children and adults subjected to various forms of abuse and stereotyping, Mrs Lotsu intimated.
“A lot of parents are in self-denial because they don’t want anyone to associate their children with autism. This is because most parents have associated such condition with curses and witchcraft etc. instead of taking such children to special schools where they can be trained to become normal, they send the autism children to prayer camps, spiritual homes and herbalists feeding them with all kinds of concoctions which end up ruining the innocent children,” Mrs Lotsu stressed.
She said this at an autism awareness workshop and fun organised by the BlueCrest College in Accra.
An organiser of the workshop, Eli Kwame Kwami, student of BlueCrest College said the workshop is aimed at deepening the knowledge and understanding of students on autism.
He believes that when students understand the needs of children with autism it will, to a larger extent, help increase the awareness and reach policies that will improve the wellbeing of children with autism in the country.
“Looking at the society and how autism is integrated we realised that people do not really understand what is autism really is. As a result of that, we decided to take up this initiative to drive awareness and campaign to educate the public on autism and how it can be managed.
“We have embarked on series of events which includes health walk, sharing of pamphlets, souvenirs and public campaign. The workshop will help students understand autism and how to relate with children with autism in their home or society,” he stated.