To achieve a society inclusive for majority of persons living with autism, the Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB) has trained almost 15,000 people on how to manage Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
Segun Agbaje, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of GTB, who disclosed this in Lagos, also said that while nearly 4,000 children have benefitted directly from free one-on-one consultation services by professionals in autism being driven and funded by GTB, more than 12,000 people have participated in the bank’s annual autism conferences geared to make autistic persons live independent lives.
Agbaje spoke at the ninth Annual Autism Programme organised by the GTB with the theme ‘Autism: Transitions, Vocational Skills and The Role of Technology.’
ASD is a neurological and developmental disorder that begins early in childhood and lasts throughout a person’s life. It affects how a person acts and interacts with others, communicates, and learns.
It includes what used to be known as Asperger syndrome and pervasive developmental disorders.
In his welcome address at the conference, which held in Lagos, the CEO of GTB lamented that many people with autism remain largely dependent on their relatives for all their lives.
Agbaje, said it was unfortunate that children and adults living with autism still often lack the support and vocational training they needed to develop critical skills for an independent and productive life.
“Surely, we have to do something about this,” Agbaje added, saying, “The focus of this year’s conference is a critical step in that direction.”
Dr. Mashudat Bello-Majeed, a Consultant Child Psychiatrist at the Federal Neuro Psychiatric Hospital Yaba, while delivering a lecture, titled, ‘ASD and Technology - Interface in ASD Management,’ advocated the use of technological devices to assist people living with ASD. Technology devices could help autistic children live normal lives, Bello-Majeed affirmed.
She said; “Autism is not caused by spiritual or demonic affliction; it is a neuro-degenerational disorder and that does not mean they cannot live normal lives.
“About 50 per cent of children living with autism are not verbal; this strengthens the need for communication gadget for them to be able to express themselves.
“Technology can bring engaging learning and it brings the better outcome in children living with autism.”