Parents and caregivers of autistic children have been encouraged to seek early intervention, therapies and support for the children to enable them to manage the symptoms and achieve their goals in life.
Madam Abla Dzifa Gomashie, the Member of Parliament for Ketu South, said it had become important to focus on families of children with special needs to empower them and enhance their capabilities in providing the best care for the children.
She cited a mother of a three-year-old child who, from the training, was able to make a device to assist her child to sit for the first time.
“I’m full of joy, so fulfilled that we’ve impacted a child’s life – three years and sitting for the first time. This is the essence of what we are doing.”
“This is not a spiritual matter but about showing love and care. Mothers (parents) of children with special needs deserve kindness and understanding from us to give the right support to their children.”
Madam Gomashie said this at a two-day outreach at the Chigaco School, Denu in the Volta Region, to offer free assessment of children with autism and developmental delays, and to train the parents and caregivers.
The Ketu South MP organised the outreach in collaboration with Klicks Africa Foundation, a non-profit care autism organisation, with Rotary Club, Ho as a partner.
A team of therapists including Mr Richard Zator, Occupational Therapist; Ms Louisa Owusu, Physiotherapist, and Ms Rashia Gibrill, Speech Therapist, assessed about 35 children, who are five years and below, with conditions including cerebral palsy, communication disorder, hearing impairment and intellectual disability.
Recommendations included teaching parents to use locally made assistive devices to support their children to sit and stand, use the potty, learn self-care, and seek medical attention when necessary.
Mrs Mary Amoah Kuffour, Co-Founder, Klicks Africa Foundation, who has a daughter with autism, urged parents to form self-help groups to support them in caregiving so as to live fulfilled lives and contribute to their communities’ growth.
She advised the parents and caregivers to put into practice what they had learnt and have time for their wards to make the positive impact.
“It takes patience, love and dedication to make any progress,” she said.
Parents who spoke to the Ghana News Agency were grateful to the MP and her partners for the outreach and said they had almost lost hope after countless attempts to find solution to their children’s conditions.
Ms Victoria De-Souza, a mother who brought children – one with a movement problem and the other with speech – expressed satisfaction with the training and promised to strictly go by the recommendations.
“My daughter is three and half years old but cannot walk and that is why you can see me carrying her. We have been in and out of hospital without much improvement,” she said.
“When I brought her here, I received some training to manage her condition and it is my hope that it works.”
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a development disability caused by differences in the brain.
People with ASD often have social communication and interaction problems, restricted or repetitive behaviour/interests and other characteristics including delayed movement, delayed cognitive or learning skills and epilepsy or seizure disorder.