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Autism is not spiritual, could lead to mental disorder, says expert


A speech therapist Akintade Ebenezer has warned parents, guardians and caregivers on the dangers of attributing autism in a child as a ‘spiritual attack’.

Autism is a developmental disorder of variable severity that is characterized by difficulty in social interaction and communication and by restricted or repetitive patterns of thought and behaviour.

Ebenezer, who has over 13 years of experience in examining speech impediment and other ailment affecting the reasoning of a child, said Nigerians often attach autism with spirituality which has been proven not to be true.

“In the aspect of spirituality, most parents who believe in spiritual stuff don’t know anything about autism,” Ebenezer said.

“When their children began to misbehave, they begin to think it is spiritual.”

“This is not so, because such disorder comes from the brain.”

Ebenezer, who said he has successfully treated over 30 cases of autism, speech impediment, said it is best treated when the child is within the range of three to four year old as their brains can still be managed to function properly.

He said the inability and difficulty of speaking experienced by autism patients often prone them to anger to act irrationally.

He, however, said there is no specific time to cure autism. Ebenezer said it depends on the level of autism and how the patient responds to the therapy.

Ebenezer listed autism levels as mild, moderate, severe and profound.

“This is best discovered when a child who is born safely is 1 year old and has started talking very well, but all of a sudden his speech went off. Sometimes such cases happen from birth with symptoms like the child not crawling, talking or doing things children are meant to do when due.”

On whether difficulty in speaking could lead to a mental disorder, Ebenezer said “Yes. That is why autism is defined as a mental disorder that affects speech and behaviour of a child.”

“Autism is best treated at the age of three. Children who grow up with this disability tends to be very stubborn and impossible to control.”

He cited the case of a 14-year old boy he diagnosed who often beats the mother and often destroys some home equipment without being angered and maltreated by the parents.

Akintade Ebenezer is a Lagos-based speech therapist. He graduated from the department of special and rehabilitative education of Kaduna State Polytechnic.

Ebenezer is a certified speech therapist. He can be reached on 08030575099, 08083529656.

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