By Tobias Lengnan Dapam
As Nigeria celebrates Children’s Day, a non governmental organization, Engraced Onces has advocated acceptance and care for special needs children.
The NGO was perturbed by ill treatment meted to special needs children across the country and called for equal treatment of all children regardless of their defects.
Speaking to our reporter, the Coordinator of the NGO, Bibora Yinkere, appealed to Nigerians and government at all levels to increase their care for special children.
While giving the story of a young girl, she said, Josephine was diagnosed for autism spectrum disorder at age four, and experienced the warm and cold waters of the social pond.
“Her parents are trying hard to get her trained and tutored in the special education ways she can learn, though without any external palliative.
“However, when she misbehaves, throws tantrums or paces around the hall where other persons are, people ignorantly judge her to be defiant and badly behaved. In fact, people may start to withdraw from her. There are neighbours that will begrudge or decidedly avoid the family that has special needs children.
“These are not supposed to be so. Even though every family of special needs children makes its own temporary peace with the social reality of their childs physical limitations and behaviours, our society must come to terms with the fact that disability is not a communicable disease.”
She said children who fall on the autism spectrum disorder may be almost blind to certain social cues. “But the society should tolerate them, give them chance and be tutored to accommodating them. Theyll definitely thrive better in a society void of discrimination and rejection, but laced by love and acceptance.
“Therefore, the immediate families of these special needs children should be encouraged and seek for better understanding on how to help these ones in transitioning into more useful entity that they are.”
While speaking on the rights of Special needs children, she said they have legitimate rights and needs. “They have a promising future and distinct impacts to make on their world. Please note that the ‘United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child’ is an important agreement by countries who have promised to protect childrens rights. The ‘Convention on the Rights of the Child’ explains who children are, all their rights, and the responsibilities of governments.
“For instance, the 23rd item on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child charter detailed the expected treatment of children with disabilities. It states that ‘every child with a disability should enjoy the best possible life in society. Governments should remove all obstacles for children with disabilities to become independent and to participate actively in the community”.
She said government is saddled with the responsibility of removing all obstacles for these children to become independent and participate actively in the community.
“These will include providing for unhindered access to basic health needs, special needs education, provision of required special technical educational aids, etc. These are the approved international standard rights of special needs children. Most nations are doing more towards this goal. But these have remained a mirage in our dear nation.
“We at the Engraced Ones Prayer Support and Advocacy Initiative therefore call on the government of Nigeria to do more in honoring the UN child rights charter of which Nigeria is a signatory, as it concerns special needs children.”