Ghanaians urged to embrace autistic people

Parenthood, which should be a joyful experience, becomes a frightening one when a child is diagnosed with any defect or illness. The pressure piles on when the diagnosis is for a complicated condition such as autism; a complex neurological disorder which affects a child’s social development.

Children with autism have impaired social interactions, communication and learning difficulties as well as behavioural issues.

Autism is difficult enough to deal with in developed countries, where the condition is better understood, but for parents in Ghana, the response to a diagnosis is not always the best. Some parents have confessed to wishing their autistic children dead.

A lot of people assume that the condition is a spiritual problem and most parents turn to spiritual centres instead of sending their children to see professionals who can guide them.

Despite an increase in awareness in the country, parents of autistic children still feel the burden of coping with a child with the condition.  

A mother of an autistic child revealed that she was initially unprepared to accept the diagnosis given by medical experts. Initially turning to churches and looking for spiritual acceptance, she explained that reality finally hit her and she has come to accept the situation for what it is, adding that “the earlier I accept and live with the reality and find the support, and all, the better.”

All is not bleak though. Some employers, aware of the potential of persons with the condition, are attempting to make a difference in the lives of such persons.

Michael Nii Armah, the proprietor of a local printing press has employed a thirty-two-year-old autistic man, Nortey Armah to fold and bind magazines.

Michael Armah, who is unperturbed by Nortey’s disability, advised the general public not to drive autistic people away but rather embrace such people and get the best out of them.

Dr Ebenezer Baidoo of the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital says autistic children have great capabilities. He explained that persons with the disability can be highly focused and so employing them to do focus-oriented jobs.

Meanwhile, as part of activities for World Autism day , celebrities today marched to help create awareness for the condition.

Organised by the Autism Council, the intent of the march was to draw attention to the problem of discrimination against autistic people.

One of the celebs in attendance was Kwesi, known on stage as “Ded Buddy”. The “Serwa Akoto” rapper has been active on the autism scene for years and revealed that he has a brother who is autistic.

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