Monday, 4 April 2016

2016 Autism Family Support & Stakeholders Forum

On Saturday, 2nd of April, Nigeria joined the rest of the world to mark the International Day for Autism Awareness. As an organization, the Comprehensive Autism and related Disabilities Education andTraining (C.A.D.E.T.) Academy in conjunction with the non-profit Dewdrops Community Centre for Special Needs Abuja, organized an Autism Family Support and Stakeholders Forum, at the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Conference and Suites in Abuja, Nigeria. The forum served as a platform for networking and discovery, to create awareness about autism, educate, inspire and encourage families, through discussions sharing of experiences by parents of children living with autism and various developmental disabilities.

The event was well attended by many parents of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, some regular school teachers, prominent school owners, caregivers, and very important personalities in the Federal Government of Nigeria, such as Dr. Dennis R. Shatima – a renowned pediatric neurologist and the Chief Consultant Pediatrician at the National Hospital Abuja. Dr. Shatima who happened to be one of the main speakers at the forum, gave deep insights on the possible causes of developmental disabilities in children and the impact on their families. Mrs. Angela Ikuomola, a mother of a child with autism, and the founder of the Ephphatha Centre in Abuja, also gave a soul-stirring speech that gripped the attention of the participants for about 30 minutes.

The event gave me the opportunity, as the special education Program Director of the C.A.D.E.T. Academy and founder of the Dewdrops Community Centre, to educate and enlighten the participants on some hard facts about the challenges of autism and related disabilities among families. Some of the points highlighted on my paper are the need for all concerned stakeholders to be aware that families of a child with disabilities may be at risk from the following impacts:

• Financial hardship
• Strained emotional relationships
• Restricted social life
• Higher stress levels
• Modifications to family activities and goals
• Time restrictions caused by care demands.

These families are also likely to experience:

• Sleep deprivation
• Performing unpleasant procedures
• Lack of baby-sitters.

The event culminated into an emotionally charged atmosphere of lively discussion among the various participants, and some parents shared their heartfelt experiences.

If you missed this event, don't worry, more of our events and activities are scheduled for the months ahead. You may visit our Facebook page HERE:  to view the official photos. Or you may join our online Family Support Forum HERE.

Some photo highlights are below, after the cut.

And guess what? The family forum ended on a romantic note, with a marriage proposal to one of the staff of the C.A.D.E.T. Academy.