DOES AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER HAVE A SPIRITUAL UNDERTONE?

by - March 19, 2018

Christianity was introduced to Africa several ages ago. It brought about immense development and a somewhat conscious reawakening which actually questioned our beliefs as Africans in deities. It is a known fact that we believed (some still do) in our gods (deities) who served(s) as mediators between human beings and the supreme being. In Yoruba land, Olodumare is being referred to as  the supreme being. But he can not act alone, so he has several deities who automatically carry out their specific duties to mankind. These deities include: Obatala, Orunmila, Osun, Sango, Ogun, Esu, Oya, Yemoja etc.  The white men (missionaries) came with a perfectly packaged religion which signified hope and a somewhat salvation to the one and only true God. The African Traditional Religion was treated as something unclean which should be done away with quickly, and also for every African to embrace the one true religion which is Christianity.

Of course, with the emergence of this religion; some bizarre traditions being practiced in Africa as at then gradually reduced. Indeed, the advantages far outweighs the disadvantages.  So it is safe to say, that the introduction of Christianity is one of the best things that has ever happened to any race. Although, not too many people know that it was also used as a tool of exploitation, but that is a topic for another day. As Christians, we are taught that with faith, nothing is impossible.  In fact, there is a particular portion in the bible(Matthew 17:20) which states that".............. truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, move from here to there, and it will move........." But it is very surprising that this portion has been abused for so long because of how it has been interpreted. Dear Africans, God is not a magician please. Stop mocking God at the expense of praying to him.

Sometime last year, I came across an autistic child. He had the perfect growth of a normal child of seven years old. But there was something definitely unusual about him. He was restless, throwing tantrums, uncommunicative, avoided eye contact and super repetitive.  It didn't take me so long to figure out that he was actually autistic. But what struck me the most was the revelation I heard from the child's mother. She was discussing with her friend concerning her child's condition and how she would do anything to make him whole again. I could hear the desperation in her voice, and in that moment my heart went out to her;because having an autistic child is not an easy job at all.

 According to her, he wasn't born that way, but he began to be more self absorbed when he clocked four. She told her friend that it wasn't ordinary,and she knows deep down that it has a spiritual undertone, and she strongly suspects her step-mother. She asked her friend for a powerful man of God who could heal her son completely, because she had spent so much money seeking help from so many self acclaimed "Men Of God". Her friend promptly suggested her pastor who was very powerful and could make it all go away. At this juncture, I got furious.

'What exactly has the pastor got to do with this? Has she even tried to get a speech therapist for her son to make him more communicative instead of getting swindled by different pastors? Doesn't she know that ASD has no known cure but can be managed with the right therapist? These were the questions I asked myself. I decided to butt into their conversation and damn the consequences(I had my headphone plugged in the whole time, which gave them the impression that I wasn't listening to their conversation) But they left that same moment I was ready to bare my heart to them. They had finished their transaction and had to leave.

It is very shocking to know that, almost everything is always attributed to the spiritual realm in African. We so much hold on to archaic superstitions that nothing can ever happen to us without attributing it to the spiritual realm. Don't get me wrong, I know for a fact that God is the supreme being, and I strongly believe in him. But I think there are somethings we should be able to figure out for ourselves instead of expecting God to perform a miracle. This is the same reason I always keep mute in church whenever we are asked to pray for our country. I mean, God didn't put us in this mess right? Our bad leaders did. So why exactly are we disturbing that sweet man up there?

What Exactly Is Autism?

Autism is a complex neurobehavioral condition that includes impairments in social interaction and developmental language and communication skills combined with rigid, repetitive behaviors.

Because of the range of symptoms, this condition is now called autism spectrum disorder (ASD). It covers a large spectrum of symptoms, skills, and levels of impairment. ASD ranges in severity from a handicap that somewhat limits an otherwise normal life to a devastating disability that may require institutional care.Children with autism have trouble communicating. They have trouble understanding what other people think and feel. This makes it very hard for them to express themselves either with words or through gestures, facial expressions,and touch.A child with ASD who is very sensitive may be greatly troubled -- sometimes even pained -- by sounds, touches, smells or sights that seem normal to others.(WEBMD)

Autism could either be manifested if it runs in the family,if a pregnant woman takes a drug which is not safe for the baby during pregnancy, or when a baby is being injected with an overdose of the recommended vaccine immunization(though this has not been proven). Scientists have not been able to ascertain the real cause of autism.  It can be a very trying and tiring period when a child is being diagnosed of ASD, because there is no known cure for it. However, it can be managed. It is pertinent to understand the fact that these lovely children are special need kids who need utmost attention and care. They didn't create themselves that way. In fact, most of them are usually perfect in their first few years on earth before regressing. So, no form of aggression or frustration should be channelled towards them. Though, it is not always easy, because it can get really disturbing when they are always unresponsive. But, that is their nature.

The one and only reliable alternative to manage this condition is to contract the help of a therapist who specialises in this area. They need all the love and support they can get to communicate better. They have to be treated with patience and deep understanding. They can't adapt well in regular schools, so; it is always advisable to enrol them in a school that caters for special need children. Faith and work operates hand in hand, it is okay to pray for them, but it should also be backed up with the steps listed above. Unlocked by Karen Kingsburry is a must read for every parent with an autistic child. Autistic kids are not useless, they are actually very talented; but need the right and trusted hands to explore this talent in them.

Below are the list of some centres that cater for special need kids:

 1.      The Zamarr Institute
           LEA Nursery & Primary School, Patrick O. Bokkor Crescent, Off Ebitu Ukiwe                   Street, Jabi,Abuja
           Email: zamarrinstitute@gmail.com/info@thezamarrinstitute.org

2.       Centre for Autism and Developmental Disabilities (CADD Nigeria)
          1 Chika Omo Street, Off Nnebisi Road, Asaba, Delta State

3.       Modupe Cole Memorial Childcare and Treatment Home
          1, St.Finbarr College Road, Akoka
          Telephone number (08074571573)

4.       Benola
          Suite 19/20 praise plaza, Ajah/Ado road, Lekki, Lagos, Nigeria.
          Telephone number (+234-012954355)

5.       C.A.D.E.T. Academy
          Block LG, 13, Uruguay street, Maitama, Abuja, Nigeria.

6        Patrick Speech And Languages Centre
          131, Fan Kayode street, GRAHAM, Ikeja, Lagos, Nigeria.
          Telephone number (07055028215,08033019865)

7.       Centre For Children With Special Needs
          4, Lake Chad Crescent, Off IBB Way, Maitama District, Abuja FCT Nigeria.
          Telephone number (09020454575,08069738449)

Do you know of any autistic child around you? How do you treat them? Do you look down on them, writing them off with the mentality that nothing good can ever come out of them? Do you really believe that Autism Spectrum Disorder have a spiritual undertone? Share your thoughts with me in the comment section.

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