Ms Ranti Oguntayo, an officer at Zamarr Institute , an NGO on Sunday said that most Nigerians had no understanding of how to take care of a person with autism.
Oguntayo spoke to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja as the world marks June 18 as Autistic Pride Day to raise public awareness of the autism rights movement.
The Zamarr Institute is an NGO that helps children and adults with developmental, behavioural and learning disabilities to meet their maximum potential in life.
She said that there were many challenges involved in caring for a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Autism Spectrum Disorder refers to a group of brain development disorders that affect communication, socialisation and behaviour. She said that some parents whose children had autism had a low understanding of the condition. Oguntayo said that it was not unusual for a parent to adopt the attitude of denial or avoidance as a mode of coping. She said that parents with autistic children needed to partner with the school to learn how to manage the condition at home.
"When explaining something to a child with autism it needs to be broken down, but many parents do not take time to learn methods of communicating with their autistic children.
"They just want to drop their children off at the school and expect them to be cured when they are picked up," she said.
Oguntayo said that the biggest challenge for parents with autistic children was getting a diagnosis. She said that autism condition was difficult to diagnose and the situation had worsened as a result of few specialists in the field in Nigeria.
According to her, "this has resulted in a lot of misdiagnosis, this is unfortunate because early intervention can improve a child’s chances of development."
She said that in some situations when parents get an autism diagnosis, they often treat it like an illness and rather put their efforts into finding a cure or hiding the child.
Oguntayo said that the only way to move forward was for parents and specialists to sit together and work out a plan of action that both parties could participate in.
She said that with proper training, parents would realise that children with autism like to engage in routine or repeated activities.
She said that the country did not have enough facilities for autistic children.
"Without good standard facilities like multi-sensory rooms with equipment designed to create a stimulating and yet calming atmosphere, we fail to help these children to explore all their senses," she said.
Oguntayo said that the autism centres were always available to anyone willing to learn and help.
She urged the government to include similar training into the NYSC scheme.