As if this day will never come, my Autistic son who worked 5 years at the same job in Canada is now a Security guard at a company in Philadelphia USA who will train and place him at EVENTS. WOW! And it happened this April 2014 which happens to be Autism Awareness month. Loving yourself and being determined matters. My personal story as a mother started from a child who was mute to 14, violent till 19, went in and out of group homes as a teen and now almost 28, speaks and writes fluently and uses a lot of social media to interact. Can I say there is HOPE for others? Others especially here in Nigeria who are ashamed that they have autistic loved ones, said to be hidden when guests are coming and almost treated as second class citizens in public. Linked are my TV and Radio appearances on April 2nd 2014, World Autism Day, I discussed about violence, communications, seizures, how society views us as families of autistic people and how my autistic adult son has used social media to enhance his social skills despite what the experts said in the 60’s and 70’s about their lack of social skills. I also spoke about lack of services in many parts of America still struggling with health care delivery for autistic people. This forced me to come home to be with my family for support and later leaving for Canada after the 2007 election violence and ending up getting services in Toronto that created that breakthrough for him. Autism is NOT a disease. It is a developmental disability of immense proportions. Please don’t stigmatize us
The 2011 Autism and Down’s Syndrome bill has not been passed in the Nigerian National Assembly. I urge lawmakers to make haste so that funding can begin for families to get more services in schools, health and society. It is a spectrum disorder. Some autistic people are non functioning at all while others like my son have progressed to the most functioning level known as Aspergers. Some of the world’s most brilliant people suffer autism. Footballer Lionel Messi, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and even Albert Einstein were diagnosed Autistic. My son has exceptional abilities in transit and traffic affairs as you saw in the video about his obsessions with buses since 2-years-old. He can tell you just about any transit route in America without ever even visiting the city yet. He travels on weekends to various cities on day trips to explore. Having moved back to Nigeria, I still worry about him in Philadelphia where he was born almost 28 years ago and lives independently like in Toronto, Canada where we were before that. Moving around in buses and trains going to Washington DC or Baltimore for the day is a big fad for him. His friends on social media are longtime American high school and Canadian pals and some just transit enthusiasts. He has met many of them and there are a few who designated themselves as his safety team pals advising him about the dangers in the community.
Autistic people don’t have a real sense of danger. As a child, a car blew it’s horn when Eni was in the middle of the street and he did not know what that was for? Many autistic kids dive into pools, ponds and rivers and drown not knowing about the dangers of the water, with no safety gear like life jackets. I heard about a teen opening fire in a Philadelphia train to attack an alleged gang member and was scared calling my son to be cautious as he rides them all over in his spare time.
I communicate with many of his friends. One is a bus driver out of New York Garfield Clark Jr who has been so kind and notifies me about everything I
need to know. Eni posted the joy of getting his first job in America on his personal Facebook page since leaving his 5-year job in Canada. He wrote as follows:
“Hi there Everyone: I just wanted to say I Finally Reach my golden opportunities for my New Career at the Imperial Security and plus I thank God for this new year and now I’m gonna chase my Dreams and nobody will step ahead of me. Thank you everybody for your Support. Its official: I Got The Job. My new employee ID card thank you Jesus. I’m on the Mission to CIS To Meet up with my Job Coach today and we are off to go pick up my Blazers and a Suit for my New Job and everything will be good. Have a Good Weekend Everybody and be Blessed.”
Dr Kemi Omololu-Olunloyo Pharm.D is a Pharmacist and the News Director of HNNAfrica, Africa’s Innovative World Newsroom based in Ibadan. She runs #HNNhealth and can be followed @HNNAfrica and @HealthReports on Twitter.
THIS IS HOW IM DESTINED TO HELP.
This week on the 26th of April, Parents Against Autism Initiative launches in Lagos, Nigeria. (PAAI)’s President is Mrs Angela Emuwa, the daughter of Punch Newspaper Founder late Chief Olu Aboderin and mom to an autistic teen. The Punch featured my son Eni on page 36 of the World Autism day pullout issue with resources and information. With PAAI, we hope to ensure that parents get as much resources to enhance the quality of their family life raising a child or adult with Autism and most of all get the 2011 Autism Bill passed in the National Assembly. PAAI will be the main umbrella for resources for Autistic people in Nigeria nationwide. There is HOPE!
Dr Kemi Omololu-Olunloyo Pharm.D is a Pharmacist and the News Director of #HNNAfrica, Africa’s Innovative World Newsroom based in Ibadan. She runs #HNNHealth and can be followed @HNNAfrica and @HealthReports on Twitter. BBM Pin 7ABC61C7