Saturday, 24 March 2018

My Sundry Activities on Special Needs Awareness for the Week

Wednesday, 21st of March was World Down Syndrome Day, and the theme for this year's celebration was "What I bring to My Community". Dr PJ Fakudze and I started our Special Needs Advocacy outreach that day by speaking at The Centagon International School, Maitama, Abuja with a group of parents on the topics "Stages of a Child's Development" and "Discovering your Child's Special Needs and Talents". Thereafter, we headed straight to 96.9 Cool FM radio station to join Edima Usoro and we had such a funfilled time discussing the topic " Let's Talk about Down Syndrome".
The following day at 99.9 Kiss FM, we held our  Weekly Special Needs Radio Show and this edition was very enlightening with our guest Dr. Moses Fache, a consultant Gynaecologist and Obstetrician, fertility expert and a public health physician. He is also the Founder and Medical Director of El-Rapha Hospitals and Diagnostics, Life Camp, Abuja and he did justice to all the questions asked concerning Down Sydrome (DS). 
When asked the question "Is Down Syndrome hereditary?", his response was aptly captured by this article from . He stated that, "there are three forms of Down Syndrome. The first form is trisomy 21 which due to "nondisjunction" and accounts for about 95% of all cases of DS. In this case the extra chromosome is present in the sperm or in the egg, or in the first cellular division and, as a consequence, each cell that forms will have three chromosomes in the couple 21. This form is strictly linked to maternal age not to hereditary genetic factors.
The second form of DS, which is also the least common, is the Mosaicism. This represents about 2 percent of cases. In this form of trisomy 21 the cellular division occurs in a defective way after fertilisation, during the second or third division, or those following. As a consequence, not all the cells of the embryo that is forming contain an extra chromosome. This form also does not depend on hereditary factors.
The third form, which is very rare, is partial trisomy 21 due to Robertsonian Translocation, accounts for 2-3 percent of cases. In this case a part of 21st chromosome breaks up during the cellular division, "moves" and attaches itself to another chromosome, usually the 14th chromosome or the other 21st chromosome. Some extra genetic material is present in both cases. About 2/3rds of translocation occur spontaneously during fertilisation. The translocation is hereditary from one of the two parents in 1/3rd of cases. In this case we have the only form of DS which is linked to a genetic factor from either the father or the mother. The parent who is the carrier of this is normal, but two of his/her chromosomes are united in a way that the total number of his/her chromosomes is only 45 instead of 46. It is important to identify, through the child's karyotype the presence or not of partial trisomy 21 due to translocation because if one of the parents is a carrier the chances that other children with DS can be born into that family are higher. So, it is advisable that the parents, the other children without DS and the blood relatives of the carrier parent have their chromosomes mapped.
So, in conclusion, we can say that the chances of a brother or sister of someone with DS having children with DS are only minutely higher than those with no case of DS in their family, and concern only the form of translocation. Therefore, it is important to determine whether the brother/sister has got this form and, in this case, whether they are healthy carrier. The chromosome map or 'karyotype' can be carried out on a simple blood test." He concluded by saying that "together with the blood test you can ask for a 'genetic consultancy', that is a more precise and personalised explanation."
Join us again next week, same time, same station.
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Visit today and see the re-energized TRIBE of Special Educators and specialists of the C.A.D.E.T. Academy Abuja.
We are totally committed to professionalism and best evidence based practices to ensure that no child in Nigeria is left behind in terms of quality education, regardless of any disability status.
As a special education and related services provider, the C.A.D.E.T. Academy staff pay special attention to providing excellent services using a multidisciplinary approach to children with special needs, their families, regular schools and other institutions in Nigeria.
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Dewdrops Community Centre's Family Funfair 2018!

Research reveals that a large part of people’s lives is spent in leisure activities. When access to leisure
is limited, it can lead to loneliness, social dissatisfaction, boredom, aimlessness, depression, anxiety, and suicide (Brewster & Coleyshaw 2011). Leisure activities are especially important for young people, as it helps in the creation of adult identity. For young people with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), leisure time spent with others can help improve social and language skills. However, because of financial, physical, institutional, and social barriers, leisure activities may be especially difficult to access for individuals with ASD.

The Dewdrops Community Centre for Special Needs Abuja has identified this need and would be hosting once again, it's annual Family Funfair for Children with Special Needs and their families. This funfair is FREE and it's aimed at promoting socialization between children with autism and their neurotypical peers.
Kindly save the date on the flier. The event is FREE, but registration is MANDATORY to enable us plan effectively. The venue will be revealed after registration. 
To register, please visit:

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Public Hearing of the FCT Draft Policy on Inclusive Education

Earlier today, lending my voice at the Public Hearing of the FCT Draft Policy on Inclusive Education held at Rotunda Auditorium, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Abuja.

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

My Weekly Special Needs Radio Show ...#SpecialFocusOnDownSyndrome


World Down Syndrome Day!

Today, 21 March 2018 marks the 13th anniversary of World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD).
Down Syndrome also known as trisomy 21, is a genetic disorder caused by the presence of all or part of a third copy of chromosome 21. It is typically associated with physical growth delays, characteristic facial features and mild to moderate intellectual disability.
Adequate access to health care, early intervention programmes, special and inclusive education, as well as appropriate research, are vital to the growth and development of individuals with Down Syndrome.
The theme of WDSD 2018 is #WhatIBringToMyCommunity
This theme focuses on how people with Down syndrome can and do make meaningful contributions throughout their lives, whether in schools, workplaces, living in the community, public and political life, culture, media, recreation, leisure and sport.
The C.A.D.E.T. Academy and the Dewdrops Community Centre for Special Needs love and support persons with Down Syndrome.

Monday, 19 March 2018

Public Hearing at the House of Representatives Federal Republic of Nigeria

Earlier today at the Public Hearing of the House of Representatives Federal Republic of Nigeria Committee on Basic Education Services and lending my voice on "A Bill for an Act mandating schools to provide for adequate special needs education to students with learning disabilities and other related matters" (HB 335).
@ Federal Capital Territory, Nigeria

Friday, 16 March 2018

#AboutLastNight on My Weekly Special Needs Radio Show

Our discussion last night on the "Experience of Having a Sibling with Special Needs" at Kiss 99.9 FM was quite emotional and it got me thinking of what could be happening to adults living with special needs who did not have and still do not have access to special education needs services. Many thanks to all organizations catering for the needs of adults living with special needs especially Patrick Speech and Language Centre. However, we need more hands on deck for a more sustainable and effective long term plan for these set of individuals.
Mr. Anfani Ayam, CEO of Climax Swim School Abuja held back nothing as he shared his experience with us about his younger brother living with autism who could not talk or communicate his needs at the age of two. According to Mr. Ayam, his brother, sat, crawled and walked late compared to every other child in his family. When he was of school age, he found it difficult to read, write or socialize or cope with school work. On several occasions, he was brought back home from school with injury on different parts of his body because the only way he knew to communicate was through violence.
He was eventually withdrawn from school to be home-schooled by his family who had no diagnosis for his condition or knowledge on how to teach an individual with special need. He was able to identify his ABCs and 123, he however regressed and lost all academic skills after a while. He is now 25 years old but his siblings and most especially his "warrior mum" still cater for his needs because he lacks the ability to perform important daily independent living skills such as self-grooming (bathing and shaving himself), cooking, doing his own laundary, socializing with others etc.
An important aspect of adolescents living with special needs which most people fail to consider is that these individuals too do have feelings for the opposite sex, they desire to have healthy relationships, get married and eventually have their own families. But how do we help them have such experiences if we do not give them the opportunity to
be educated alongside their neurotypical mates?
We therefore need to educate and empower ourselves with knowledge of what special needs/disability is all about so that we can be a little more patient, understanding, loving and empathetic towards these individuals in our environments.
Dr. PJ Fakudze and I concluded the show by highlighting the importance of a multi-disciplinary team in addressing the needs of children and adults living with special needs. We also touched on the importance of Individualized Family Support Programs, early identification and intervention, daily living skills, independent living skills, behavioural therapy, aqua-therapy, etc.
Join us again next week, same time, same station.
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Friday, 9 March 2018

#AboutLastNight on My Weekly Special Needs Awareness Radio Show

We concluded our ASSESSMENT series last night by highlighting the "Benefits of Assessments in Inclusive and Special Education: Psychological, Audiological and Educational" @ Kiss 99.9 Fm.
Dr PJ Fakudze mentioned that clinical practice in developed countries require all new born to undergo several neonatal evaluations and assessments before been allowed to go home with their parents. This is also accompanied by scheduled regular follow up assessments till the child is of school age. At the point of entry into elementary school, school age children are again assessed by a multidisciplinary team consisting of clinical psychologist(s), paediatrician(s), general educator(s), special educator(s), etc to determine the child's level of readiness emotionally, physically, socially and otherwise. This will help guide with appropriate school placement and support.
Mr Charles mentioned that audiological assessments are very important at every stage of development and that hearing loss or hearing impairment could affect adults as well contrary to the general belief that the percentage of children that experience hearing impairment is higher than that of adult. He further stressed the importance of regular audiological assessments and his professional advice is that we undergo audiological assessments at least once a year. He stated that such healthy practice could help with early identification and early intervention in inclusive and special education.
The phone lines were opened early as promised and our listeners called in to ask several interesting questions which were adequately responded to by Mr. Charles and Dr. PJ. I also had the opportunity to bare my mind on the benefits of assessment when two different callers called in. One of the callers mentioned that he is quite good at expressing his idea verbally but had challenges putting it down in writing (composition/essay) while the other caller's issue had to do with handwriting or copying notes that is more than a full page. Both callers expressed their dissatisfaction with the negative effects of these challenges on their academic performances.
In my response to the callers, I further explained the importance of assessment for effective and successful inclusion practices. Learners with dyslexia, dysgraphia and other disabilities if properly assessed would benefit from inclusive education without been "marked down" if the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is properly adopted and implemented in our educational system.
The idea of UDL is that with modifications of representation (material), expression (methods of communication), and engagement (how students respond to curriculum), teachers can include a much wider range of students in typical classroom instruction. Simply put, UDL entails designing lessons that are appropriate for the dyslexic, dysgraphic and all learners in general.

Join us again next week, same time, same station.
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Friday, 2 March 2018

#AboutLastNight on My Weekly Special Needs Awareness Radio Show

We had an interesting time discussing "Reading Assessments and Clinical Evaluations in Special and Inclusive Education" @ Kiss 99.9 Fm last night.
In commemoration of the World Book Reading Day, I thanked all teachers who have taught children to read in one way or the other.
I began the topic by explaining that the reasons why reading assessments are important are for early identification of struggling readers and also to equip them with strategies to overcome their challenges with reading.
I also explained the 3 major benefits of phonic instructions for beginning readers which are that it helps with:
a. Better word recognition.
b. Better reading comprehension.
c. Better reading vocabulary.
I further explained the 3 processes involved in early reading which are equally the areas that most readers are likely to experience challenges. The processes are:
i. Phonemic awareness: An understanding that words are made up of sounds called phonemes.
ii. Association of graphemes (letters) with their corresponding phonemes (sounds) for easy decoding and encoding of words.
iii. Reading fluency (i.e reading effortlessly and smoothly) for the purpose of comprehension (i.e understanding).
I mentioned a few diagnostic reading tests such as:
a. The Diagnostic Indicator of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS)
b.The Basic Reading Skill Assessment (BRSA), and
c. The Standardized Test for Assessment of Reading (STAR).
I concluded by explaining that most Diagnostic Reading Tests assess skills such as:
1. Oral Reading
2. Assessment of Reading Comprehension (i.e literal comprehension, Inferential comprehension, critical comprehension, affective comprehension and lexical comprehension).
3. Assessment of Word Attack Skills; and
4. Assessment of Word Recognition.
Dr. Fakudze, our in house clinical child psychologist spoke extensively on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM -V) and the advancement in technology for some psychological tools to enhance quick and effective diagnosis. And Mrs. Chinwe Nonyerem Ikaraoha (Assistant Director Special Duties, National Orientation Agency, FCT Directorate Abuja) highlighted some collaborative ways in which her office can ensure that assessments are carried out effectively in special and inclusive education.
Join us again next week, same time, same station.
For sponsorship, please call: 0705 763 0825 or send email to: