By Talatu Maiwada
Thoughtful House Autism Center, an NGO, has called for laws that will provide social security for unemployed autistic citizens in the country.
Oluwakemi Barrow, Director of the foundation told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), in Abuja on Monday, that the call was based on the constitutional rights to life and good living that every autistic child deserved as a citizen.
She stated that people on the autism spectrum were disadvantaged and the growing incidence of the disability was alarming hence the need for a social security.
“We need serious action to protect and support children, adults and families coping with autism.
“We proffer few areas where this legislation should focus if we are to give that significant part of our population a shot at having fulfilled lives.
“We need laws that provide a social security net for autistic adults who are unable to find jobs, and for our children to have a chance like everyone else.
“The government can offer stipends that can cover their living expenses and continuous treatment as may be necessary,’’ Barrow said.
She called legislation that guaranteed high quality special needs education for all children on the autism spectrum.
Barrow said such action should be supported by providing subsidies to private educational institutions that catered for children whose programmes met certain standards.
She said parents with autistic children in private educational institutions should also receive subsidy from government to cater for capital intensive needs for their children.
Barrow advocated for legislation that would make bullying and unfair treatment of autistic children and adults a crime alongside other forms of discrimination in the society.
“To support this law, we need a lot of education and enlightenment on autism provided in schools, hospitals, social and work groups.
“This would encourage people act responsibly and treat autistic people and their families fairly with respect’’, she said.
Barrow said that health plans provided under National Health Insurance Scheme and other private health plans could cover medical tests and treatments needed by the children.
She urged the government, organisations and individuals to support efforts in alleviating challenges confronting autistic children and their families