Don’t hide your special needs child, disability activist tells parents

Don’t hide your special needs child, disability activist tells parents

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The founder of the Children’s Development Centre, Lagos, Dr Yinka Akindayomi, has encouraged parents not to lock up their special needs children, saying they are gifts from God.

Speaking to our correspondent at the PureSouls Learning Foundation conference in Lagos, Akindayomi called on the government should also develop the society for the good of all Nigerians.

She said, “The only advice I can give to parents is please, don’t hide your children. The children are gifts. It doesn’t matter what level we as professionals put the children on. That is irrelevant.

“Your child is a gift. Love your child and do the best you can for the child. For the government, I believe if there is political will, the policy will work. Everything doesn’t have to be politicised, so you don’t give people promises that you cannot keep.

“Even with children with no disabilities, you give promises and you can’t keep those promises. So there must be a will to change; not just change, but change society for the better. We keep on going round and round and round and then we point our fingers at parents with disabilities. That’s why we are not getting much done out of the whole thing.”

She suggested that the inclusion policy should be worked upon and implemented appropriately, adding that, “We should work on inclusion policies, how we implement the policies; how we make our curriculum flexible for all children to learn. Not every child is to be educated. I mean the primary-secondary-university educational system in Nigeria is not going to be welcomed by everybody. But we all can come up with something fitting for our society.”

Akindayomi further explained that there was no particular strategy for teaching persons living with disabilities, but every tutor and curriculum must be flexible so as to get the best out of every special needs child.

“What are we able to do to be flexible enough to educate these children? The children are not the issue; we are the issue. We look at disability in one dimension, and the one dimension is a disability. But if we look beyond disability, we will be able to see the needs and challenges of that person and things to put in place to make sure that person is educated. Some people don’t want to be educated; it is a right. We have to change and the change is us; not the people with disabilities,” she said.

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