‘Don’t stigmatise children with autism’

Founder of Liztino Centre for Children with Special Needs, Mrs Angel EIizabeth Bertino, has asked the public to stop stigmatising children with autism.

According to her, people suffering from autism (a serious development disorder especially among children), could live a normal life with the right support and assistance without any form of stigmatisation by society.

“It is very important for society to accept the children as they are harmless and can be better when they feel loved and accepted,” she stated in an interview with The Spectator.

Mrs Bertino said that in the developed countries such children got the needed support and acceptance to realise their potentials as normal children, and Ghana could do same if the public did not discriminate against them.

She said that there were many children with autism living in Ghana but were usually kept indoors for fear of attacks and discrimination.

“This makes their condition worse and they suffer from childhood to adulthood. We can do better as a country to make life easier for such children,” she stressed.

Her organisation which was formed over two years ago and some private entities she said, were currently championing the course of autism in Ghana and would require support from government to create more awareness about the condition.

“Government must come on board for more education and awareness campaigns to be staged to enlighten the public on the condition. This would go a long way to stop the discrimination and stigma attached to persons living with autism.

“Largely, discrimination is borne out of ignorance, especially when people continue to think the condition is spiritual and contagious. 

“We need a lot of education in schools and homes so the public would understand the need to show love to autistic persons,” she intimated.

Mrs Bernito indicated that she would begin to visit schools and churches to educate them on the condition for them to know how best to handle people suffering from the disorder and alleged that some churches were even guilty in terms of discrimination as she had encountered several situations where her biological son, an autistic child, was maltreated because of his condition.

“The condition is not spiritual and children can perform better when they are understood and assisted by society,” she said.

This concerned parent said that children who had visited her facility received above 50 per cent of recovery and now lived normal lives with their families.

She called on organisations, schools and churches to understand that people living with autism were normal and could do better with love and care.

By Michael D. Abayateye

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