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News Woman of Substance

There are no emotions with Autistic Children -Dr. Akindayomi

Dr. Yinka Akindayomi is a specialist in Community Paediatrics and child development, administration and management services for children with Disabilities.

She is the initiator of the Children’s Developmental Centre for the last 25 years with a staff strength of 42 staff and they are responsible for the development, supervision, fund raising and management of the center.

Woman of Substance sat down to chat with Dr. Akindayomi the Service Director, Children’s Development Centre, CDC in Lagos, to throw more light on causes and management of children with autism.

Why is Autisim a developmental disorder?

Autism is a spectrum meaning that you have the higher and the lower sides and there are many different symptoms during screening. Autisim simply means you have a child with communication, learning and behavior problems.

How is the diagnosis made?

There are meant to be 4 criteria before you can diagnose a child and say the child belongs to the Autistic Spectrum Disorder but many of the children on this spectrum disorder have different sills and different abilities and no 2 autistic children are the same.

What are the remote causes of Autism?

People really don’t now and many people are angry with me when I say that even in America, it is not sure what causes autism. However, some ris factors have emerged and it could be genetic, years ago is was said over development of the brain cells could cause it invariably, there isn’t one thing that you can pinpoint that causes autism.

How early can Autism be detected?

When my son was being checked and diagnosed with a whole lot of children in the 80’s I think the cut-off age was 3years because by that time they didn’t develop in Language, they had this bizarre behavior that people could not understand. It was usually at 3years that most mothers were picking it up.

What other character traits are noticed?

For my son he had a hearing problem, not responding whatsoever when we called him. He didn’t see me as his mother, he has had to learn that I am his mother so that mother-son relationship and emotion that goes with bonding is not there for my son.

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With the children here at CDC, what is the relationship with parents?

For children with autism, in terms of emotions they are not there and the families that come to CDC, have truly come to terms with the conditions of their children, it has been a difficult road and I can understand that.

How easy was it for you to come to terms with reality about your son’s condition?

May be because of my medical background, I am one to take any challenge on whether it was my son or anything else I would have taken it on. The one thing that I said to myself was “This is my son and I will stand with on this”. It was difficult for me trying to understand the issues and challenges he was going through.

Tell us about the repetitive behavior

For that kind of behavior, they are simply trying to cope and understand their world, they have to find a way to get their thinking across. It is about communication but the self-inflicting injury that many people talk about only comes from mismanagement and their carers need to relate with and manage that self-destructive behavior for children with Autism.

Will the attitude and stigma towards autistic children ever change?

I think it will, is changing, it may be slow but I think the younger people are beginning to be exposed, they are looking up information and become more aware of various health conditions so there is hope.

This interviewed first Aired on TVC in 2011.

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