As Africa commemorates the “Day of the African Child (DAC)”, parents and caregivers of children with special needs in Nigeria are asking for the establishment of a National Special Needs Commission which they say will create greater inclusiveness for their children and wards.
The parents made the call at the end of a seminar for parents and caregivers of children with special needs organised by the Ike Foundation for Autism in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.
Rising from the the program manager, Ike Foundation for Autism, Mr Joshua Anar called on all stakeholders to expedite action in ensuring that children with special needs are given equal opportunities to achieve their full potential and lead productive lives like their neurotypical counterparts.
He further stressed that the current educational system in Nigeria does not have adequate provision for children with special needs; such as those with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Down syndrome, dyslexia, cerebral palsy and other learning disabilities requiring an individualized learning plan.
“We therefore plead with the Federal Government to address this by establishing a National Special Needs Commission that will coordinate the services needed by these children as the burden associated with their upbringing currently borne by their parents”, he said.
In her remarks, a parent with a child on the spectrum, Mrs Fome Kings-Jack said, “I want to encourage every Nigerian to treat every child the same way because every child is your child. This is our heritage as Africans, to accept every child as ours. We should be more understanding and accommodative of children who have special needs among us.”
The Day of the African Child is commemorated every year on 16th June. This year’ the theme is “The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development for children in Africa: Accelerating Protection, Empowerment, and Equal Opportunity”.