Saida Mohamed was blessed with a son filling her and her immediate family with lots of joy as is normal in African communities where the birth of a baby boy signifies sorts of achievement.

Unfortunately, his son Abubakar was no diagnosed with autism a debilitating ailment that severely impairs children from birth.

Individuals with autism present an array of physical and neuromuscular maladies. Abu as the boy came to be fondly known, lacks muscle tone but is surprisingly physically strong.  His stature can be described as slender and tall, towering his elder siblings but bares great semblance to his siblings.
Although autism is a neurological developmental disorder and does not have any official physical symptoms, Abu’s deeply set eyes; expressionless face and thin upper lip are common in children with autism. The presence of abnormal physical features can help diagnose autism.

“In my sons’ case, the earliest symptoms of autism were misinterpreted as signs of a “good baby”; it was until my child surpassed a series of development red flags that I did become wary of his health.’

 The signs of autistic individuals can display many forms of repetitive or restricted behaviour: repetitive movements (hand flapping, head rolling, or body rocking), self-injury (skin-picking, hand-biting and head-banging).

No single repetitive or self-injurious behaviour is said to be specific to autism; but autism appears to have an elevated pattern of occurrence.

The following delays should warrant an immediate evaluation by your child’s pediatrician: no warmth, joyful expressions, lack of response to name, no spoken words or babbling or “baby talk.”

Abu lacked all the foregoing variables, hence igniting worry and fear within his mother.

 His language did not resemble those of his peers. Saida began to question her role as a mother.

“Was I at fault for his lack of development?” she questioned herself as prior to Abu’s diagnosis the notion of autism was foreign to her.

To this day, Saida is simultaneously learning information whilst being a parent. A lack of familiarity and feelings of insecurity around learning disability appear to be causing hostility enclosed in Africa and the Diaspora.

People often view disability as a curse or punishment by divine powers. Families can be embarrassed by disability and keep children and/or relatives with disabilities at home. Today, some people in rural Africa think that disabilities are caused by witchcraft.

Disability Africa states: “Disabled people continue to comprise the poorest and worst-served group in the world.”  It’s time for a sustained campaign of enlightenment, ‘’we need to unlock the huge potential for positive shifts in social attitudes that lies with the younger and older generation,’’ says Saida.

‘’Abu’s diagnosis is only a factor of his life and his congenial attributes is the predominant variable. The sparkle in his eyes provides me with more information than any syllable that leaves his plum lips. An occasional ‘I love you’ is reciprocated in a hug or a kiss’’, Saida reminds herself that it is better than the silence of his absence.

‘’If I had neglected my responsibility of loving him, my child is still the same fragile sentient being who adores me; he is just a little more special than the rest,” she added.

Saida says parents of children with ASD have higher levels of stress. This does not have to be the case. By regularly interacting with your child in conjunction to intervals of relaxations, you can juggle the obstacle of being a career woman without being over brimmed by the factors that come with the role.

 However, sometimes you may be inflicted with a period of depressive thoughts, but this happens to everyone, regardless of their current situation in life. A famous proverb that can be considered a mantra is: without sadness, we’d never know if we were happy - A series of words that rings true.

Being a parent to a severely disabled child can be considered as a job. In an ideal world, the overriding question would be rephrased to reflect my beliefs.

The main objective is to prepare a child for the big world. Hence,in complete accord we strive to better the individual’s life and support self-advocates in raising awareness of learning disability. Having a support system like a school or a community can bear any burden that you may have, making it easy for myself and those alike to tackle both a job and raising a child with disability.
Globally, autism is estimated to affect 24.8 million people as of 2015. In the 2000s, the number of people affected was estimated at 1–2 per 1,000 people worldwide.

Autism is a developmental disorder characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction and nonverbal communication, along with restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviour and interests.

Parents usually notice signs in the first two or three years of their child’s life. Signs and symptoms of autism vary widely, as do its effects.

 However, they are identified in the concluding areas: communication, behaviour and understanding, those around them. The earliest signs of autism involve the absence of normal behaviours; hence fore can be tough to spot.


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