Chidi Izuwah: Leaving a gap in the fight for Autistic children

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The death of Chidi Izuwah, a man described by those in medical space as “Father of Autism” in Nigeria has left a huge gap in the treatment, awareness and intervention of autism in Nigeria.

Read Also: SGF urges Nigerians to emulate the late Izuwah’s leadership qualities

One of the ailments that people are yet to come to terms with is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). ASD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects a child’s ability to communicate, interact socially with his environment and also involves unusual behavior that might be repetitive and rigid in nature. 

Having done a lot of intervention, awareness and sensitization to the public. Engr. Chidi Izuwah brought to the fore the challenges of children with autism and what the government need to do to be involved in this. His opinion on autism was in line with the scientific position and what was written in scientific journals.

He said that “The communication issues in ASD might be absent, delayed, or abnormal speech for age. They might have inability to understand facial expressions, act as though deaf or repeat words said to them. Some might have words but not for effective communication while some have poor comprehensions skills, hence inability to follow instructions”.

A major trait with ASD is the absence of social skills characterized by disinterest or insensitivity to goings on around them, aloofness and a difficulty in connecting or playing with other children. Some might not understand the concept of pretend games or use toys in a creative way. They might not understand feelings of others or share interests or achievements with others (drawings, toys).”

The late Engr. C.K.C Izuwah is Archetypical in terms of being a strong advocate and father, co-founder of Our Lady of Guadalupe Health Foundation and Autism Centre in Port Harcourt and Abuja in Nigeria. His passion stemmed from a family member being diagnosed with Autism (ASD) 18 years ago (2003). He was personally involved in domestic affairs associated with nurturing a young mind with ASD and went into individualized personal research for a management protocol in a quest to satisfy his active cerebral mind. This passion led him to read extensively about this disorder to the extent that he was sometimes mistaken for a medical doctor in the field due to the wide knowledge he had garnered over the years and his exuberance with intellectual finesse while discussing autism.

Due to his belief in providing exceptional wholesome integrated services with empathy to children with ASD and his conviction that no child should be left behind by harnessing their potentials, he co-founded The Our Lady of Guadalupe Centre for Autism with his wife, Dr (Mrs.) Doris Izuwah. It started from one room in his humble home in Port Harcourt and has grown to a capacity of providing multidisciplinary services to over 100 children with special needs, while providing jobs to more than 50 youths. It also serves as a referral center for hospitals and is resourced with specialists who help these children especially in the areas of assessment, diagnosis, and integration/inclusion into the society.

Speaking on the progress of facility, the widow of Chidi Izuwah, Dr ( Mrs) Doris Izuwah opined that “With the improvements seen in most of the children with ASD using the multidisciplinary approach, we have extended the same management protocol to other children with developmental challenges e.g., Down syndrome, Dyslexia, Dyscalculia and Cerebral Palsy. My husband believed in providing quality education and succor to the parents of these children. He was their father and participated in most of the activities at the Centre.”

Dr Doris also added “Chidi ensured that all toys bought were rugged with good quality parts for durability. Starting OLG from his house meant that his children’s toys ended up being for the foundation and that did not deter him. I recollect our children making exclamations such as – “Oh it’s in OLG “when they couldn’t find their story books and toys, and this has not changed. He was generous and ensured there was continuous supply of toys that would improve the play and fine motor skills of special needs children He was ever present as a backup whenever we reached a brickwall at OLG. His Motto was, ‘NEVER GIVE UP. THERE IS ABILITY IN DISABILITY.”

 

MTO/Tech&Biz

 

 

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