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General News of Tuesday, 24 May 2022

Source: www.punchng.com

Don’t write autistic children off- NGO urges parents

Autism Spectrum Disorder Autism Spectrum Disorder

A non-governmental organisation, Puresouls Learning Foundation, has called for educational support for autistic persons, especially through art.

Speaking in an interview with The PUNCH on Wednesday, Founder, Puresoul Learning Foundation, Mrs. Dotun Akande, stated that the recently concluded ‘Art in Autism’ exhibition was designed to give visibility to individuals living with autism who ordinarily would have been ignored because of their difficulty with social interaction and formal education.

She added that most autistic persons might find expressive language difficult, saying they usually express their feelings through art.

In partnership with Terra Culture Art Gallery, the exhibition had some autistic learners, including Zizah Okeugo, Christine Mike-Nnaji, and Daniel Okolie, who exhibited their artworks.

Akande said, “We organised the programme to show the unique talents of people with autism. We want the community to focus on their unique and innate strength and not dwell on behavioural and social challenges.

“Our message to parents and the community is not to write these children off because they are different. Their unique ability should be identified and sharpened to the stage of excellence, which can, in turn, be a thriving vocation for them in the future. As parents, their responsibility is to love that child and accept his gift and challenges. When this is done, we can create a thriving environment where that child can display his unique strength and talent.”

She also appealed to the federal and state governments to provide job opportunities for autistic candidates in various ministries.

“The government should provide employment opportunities for them in the various ministries. In the beginning, they might struggle, but they tend to do the job very well when it becomes a routine. They are dedicated to people who they are comfortable with. They can be trained. We should not give up on them. We have two of them working with our organisation, thriving,” she added.

She explained that research had consistently demonstrated that involvement in the arts increased students’ achievement across all subject areas and social and adaptive skills.

“Part of this is due to the multisensory nature of the arts: memory and cognition improve when academic content is combined with colour-coding, movement, rhythm, sound phrases, textures, and other sensory input. These are the reasons we expose our children to art to know what they are thinking and connect their thoughts into reality.” 

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