As part of the initiatives to help more Nigerians understand Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) in the country, especially to tackle stigma facing people living with the condition, Guarantee Trust Bank (GTB) has trained more than 14,000 people on how to manage ASD.
Also, the bank has provided free one-on-one consultation services to over 3,200 children as well as led a sustained campaign to tackle the stigma facing people living with Autism.
These were made known in a statement issued by GTB to announce the 8th edition of its Annual Autism Conference scheduled to hold in Lagos from July 17.
Themed “Raising a Child with Autism, the Role of Family and the Community” the two-day conference is part of the Bank’s Annual Autism Programme, which brings together globally renowned medical specialists, parents, caregivers, health practitioners and concerned members of the public to share ideas on how to support children and adults living with Autism.
Autism is a developmental disorder characterised by troubles with social interaction and communication and by restricted and repetitive behaviour. Parents usually notice signs in the first two or three years of their child’s life.
According to the World Health Organisation, one in 160 children lives with ASD worldwide. In Nigeria, the condition is hardly diagnosed, rarely understood and children with ASD often suffer stigmatisation.
According to the bank, in response to challenges posed by ASD, the: “GTBank launched the Orange Ribbon Initiative to support children and adults living with Autism and other developmental disabilities and in the last seven years, offered more than 14,000 people training on how to manage ASD.”
“This year, the Bank’s Autism Programme will begin with the 2018 Autism Conference which is free to attend and open to the general public.”
Following the Autism conference, the bank said there would be free one-on-one consultations for children with Autism and other developmental challenges as well as counselling of their parents and guardians.
“There will also be sessions for speech therapy, physical therapy, behaviour analysis, audiology, clinical psychology, developmental psychiatry, physiotherapy and occupational therapy.”
These sessions will hold from July 19 to 23 at the Digital Village, Alausa, Lagos, the statement added.
Commenting on the 8th Annual Autism Awareness Conference, Mr Segun Agbaje, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of GTB, said: “Like every other child, children with Autism have big dreams and amazing talents to contribute to our society, but they need all our support to rise above their present difficulties.”