Written by Godfrey AKON

Autism: group proposes bill on special needs education

A non-governmental organisation, Hope House Initiative, has said it is sponsoring a bill for the provision of special needs education and health services for children living with special development needs.

A member of the Board of Trustees of the Initiative, Mrs. Amina Titi Abubakar, who disclosed this at the 10th anniversary of the organisation in Abuja, called on the National Assembly to give the bill accelerated hearing and passage when submitted.

Abubakar noted that the Nigerian educational system as currently constituted was not favourable and conducive for children with special needs, who cannot fit into conventional schools because of peer discrimination and learning difficulties.

She lamented that children with special needs were not enjoying the protection and full benefits of the child rights act, stressing that her organisation cannot keep its eyes open and close its heart against such things.

Earlier, the Administrator of Hope House Initiative, Mrs. Babel Jaja, said her organisation patiently provides love and care to the children as any parent would do to bring up his child, stressing that they do not shy away from their responsibility but are resolute to ensure child safety and welfare.

Jaja urged parents to take seriously their responsibilities by ensuring that children with Down Syndrome are identified early so they can get help from her organisation.

“Let us live up to our responsibility as parents and caretakers and improve ourselves in the process. Let us become better persons as we commit to the challenges,” she said.

According to her, children do not remember what parents do for them as much as they thrive in the feeling that they allowed them to be children in their own right and feel that their parents cherish them.

Also speaking, a professor of special needs education and rehabilitation sciences, Ihanacho John, decried the lack of government support for children with autism or special needs, stating that it was a standard rule across the world for governments and not parents to care for the population.

John noted that though a draft policy on special needs education had been drafted by the federal government and approved by the National Council on Education, the process of bringing it up for implementation was yet be completed.

He called on government to complete the National Identification and Assessment Centre, which is located along airport road and also set aside funds for the care of children with special needs in the annual budgets

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