The Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Malam Muhammad Musa Bello, has revealed that the FCT Administration was working on making public buildings conform with the Disability Act recently signed by President Muhammadu Buhari, so as to cater for persons with disabilities, Autism and other special needs.
He also assured that the FCT Administration will give you all the needed support. You can rest assured that I am going to be a very passionate advocate of what you do.He made this known when he paid a courtesy visit to Brain Bloom Centre, Apo, Abuja, a centre dedicated to the care of children with special needs and at the forefront of creating awareness for autism, saying, a lack of proper knowledge about autism in the FCT is about to change.
According to him, this, coupled with the planned installation of lifts at the rail stations would provide easy access and movement to persons with disabilities in these facilities.
Autism is a lifelong, non-progressive neurological disorder, typically appearing before the age of 3 years. Experts say that it is neither a psychiatric illness nor a spiritual condition as erroneously speculated by many.
The Center’s Founder and Managing Director, Mrs Rahanatu Yusuf, as part of activities to mark Autism Awareness Month held from the 1st to 30th of April every year, led the Minister to instead visit the school with a view to rendering necessary support.
Speaking after a tour of facilities at the Centre, the Minister corroborated Mrs. Yusuf on the imperative for the creation of awareness about the disorder, even as he pledged continued support of the FCT Administration to improve the well-being of persons with autism and other neurological disorders to enable them to live normal lives.
“We feel highly delighted to have come here and I share with what you are doing because autism is a reality actually. It’s probably just recently that we know autism as a name. Sometimes, you get to know it rather early and sometimes, you don’t know about it till it’s very late. I encourage you not to lose hope. Let us just keep on pushing.
“I will continue to give you publicity, and from time to time, I encourage you to do some activities. You don’t need to make it only an annual event during the autism month. If there is any need for support, you can contact my office and we will see what we can do,” he said.
Highlighting the necessity for awareness of the disorder, Malam Bello said: “I am very happy that you created a forum where parents of the autistic students can come and share ideas because we realize in life that anything that happens has happened before. So, sometimes, if you share ideas, you will be able to achieve the aim of finding solutions to any challenge.
Mrs Yusuf, in a welcome remark earlier, appealed for greater understanding, patience and acceptability of autistic persons to build a much more inclusive world that protects the rights of all children, particularly those with neuro-diversity.
Calling on governments at all levels and citizens not to forget the vulnerable populations and implement the Disability Act, and establish proper diagnostic centres, Yusuf said: “We want to make autism awareness more centre stage and topic of conversation which is why we are bringing this to the attention of the Honourable Minister who has the capacity to make impactful policies to achieve this herculean feat.
”Trained as a Chemical Engineer, Yusuf found practice and passion in special education while researching and building her capacity to support her eighteen months old son, Usman, who had a slow start. Now Usman is 14, in a mainstream school and breaking barriers, Yusuf decided it was time to help others take care of their children with similar challenges.