DPP - Raising a Special Needs Child

Ibrahim and Linda Suleiman keep exploring different aspects of parenting with their podcast. One that caught our attention at Christianity Nigeri was with guests Chuka and Ivie Ofili. Their episode was focused on raising a special needs child. Chuka and Ivie have two boys, Adrian and Andre, eleven and eight respectively. Adrian is on the Autism spectrum and was diagnosed two months before his third birthday. Adrian’s diagnosis is autism spectrum disorder. Autism is a condition that can be simply defined as ‘A neurobiological disorder that basically affects language development, behaviour and social interaction.’

The process of discovery and learning how to live and raise him is a journey the couple have lived out over the years. As a new mother Ivie was excited and celebrated all his developmental milestones, it’s worthy of note that he had been meeting them too. Adrian was a cheerful, playful baby that smiled at everyone. Ivie’s mother however noticed that he wasn’t babbling at her a lot although he smiled. The couple noticed that on his first birthday he wasn’t really attentive and he began to throw little tantrums. By the time he was being dropped at daycare teachers also noticed differences between him and kids his age. They pointed out how he liked to be by himself, wouldn’t seek out other children and also wasn’t saying much.

This is a really delicate topic to broach and Ivie was upset because she knew that children had different developmental stages, even if they were in the same age range. Furthermore, her son liked to sing and hum and so she wondered how a child could sing and not talk. The Ofilis were advised to check his hearing and at this stage Ivie hoped that all they had to do was get hearing aids as a solution. However, this was not the case and they acknowledged that they had to get a behavioral specialist to examine him. Chuka shared that,” A lot of parents who might be going through or go through this, the first response is usually denial. Things happen to different families and children for a reason. Don’t think you should deprive your situation the opportunity to pursue and fix it if you find yourself in such a place. “

The result of the examination confirmed that Adrian was somewhere on the spectrum. The specialist didn’t want them to dwell on the diagnosis, but rather to focus on therapy. Ivie felt he was too young for this but it’s proven that the earlier therapy starts the better the outcomes. With therapy, Adrian began to speak at the age of four! As a mother Ivie’s cry to other mothers is simple, “Make sure the child is equipped with what he needs to live in the world.” This rallying cry from a mother certainly summarises what raising children is about even when they are special needs individuals.

You can listen to the full episode here.


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