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Every cloud has a silver lining

By Dr Badewa T. Adejugbe-Williams, Educational Therapist, Founder of the Royal School of Educational Therapy Foundation

I have two children. They are 29 year old twins diagnosed with mental retardation. However, my family extends beyond my biology. I am part of the Royal School of Educational Therapy Foundation (RSETF) , an Innovation and Learning grant recipient. Together with students, service providers and caregivers/parents, we are one big family. Students are people with a variety of neurodevelopmental disorders, including autism spectrum disorder (ASD), Down syndrome, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), intellectual disability and cerebral palsy.  

As of April 2020, Nigeria had more than 1,000 confirmed cases of people infected with the coronavirus. Large cities like Abuja are still under containment. My family and I had to deal with this new reality. Like the rest of the world, we also had to readjust.

Accept and manage COVID-19

In the pursuit of continuous learning and growth, even in these strange times, we have adapted and explored new ways to support learners. On a daily basis, we have been in constant communication with parents, service providers, caregivers and students themselves via WhatsApp and phone calls. This helps us to keep abreast of their progress. We continue to monitor, share student homework and provide online support and advice with Parenting Unusual / Parenté insolite

We educated our students about the pandemic and, just before confinement, we started to practice hand washing before entering the learning center, using disinfectants before entering the classrooms and wash your hands more regularly throughout the day. We have taught alternative greetings to avoid shaking hands and hugging each other.

The gray cloud

RSETF planned to have auditions for our docudrama YES, WE CAN! which has been postponed. In addition to that, the center had to close. Many learners, especially those with ASD and ADHD, did not like the idea of ​​not being able to get to the center. We had to manage a number of crises, which had a lot of implications for everyone involved. This was the main reason why we had to make constant phone calls after confinement, to speak with learners and their families during the transition. Due to social distancing, access to individual support and therapy is no longer an option.

The good side of things

I am happy to share, based on the reports we receive, that our learners are doing much better. Some have even surprised us with their progress!

You will find below some reports from providers….

“I have been communicating with parents since the start of confinement. It has been very positive and productive since we have worked together to involve their children. About two weeks ago, when I heard from Kay, a 19-year-old boy with autism and a mental disability, I was told that he had exhausted the homework cards within a few days. that I had given him. I had to send his brother other documents and cards by email and WhatsApp for him to print them. This is due to the fact that they had difficulty involving him in things he doesn’t like to do !Now he has an hour-long daily routine for literature and math, then pauses. After his break, he does a module through the online study program to which we have subscribed for the learners. ”

“The learners in my workload (a social and educational term that refers to the list of children / learners to whom a provider provides services) are all doing very well and are always grateful whenever I ask to speak to them. Just to give an example: a mother said that she was happy when her other children left their homework and that Chidi had also done the same! Chidi is a 16 year old girl who, due to trauma, had to leave school for a few years before joining RSETF. “

   “After talking to a mother yesterday, I just couldn’t stop shedding tears of joy … A young non-verbal autistic man started to speak words, to his mother’s amazement and joy! The power of speech therapy! The mother says that she is no longer worried. She says she never knew he could say words, but hopes he can say sentences soon. ” 

“The responses from parents in the Lion class have been encouraging as the students are making progress. I call all the parents on my workload to know the progress made by the students and how they do their homework. I spoke to a father who told me that his son found it unfortunate that the center was closed. I am also happy when the learners themselves call me to ask how I am. They are wonderful! The Lion Class has students with severe intellectual disabilities, autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and mental retardation ” 

“All the students in the Elephant class are good. I spoke to their parents and directly to some of them. I am happy to receive very positive feedback from everyone. The Elephant class includes children 5 to 8 years old with TDAH, autism, cerebral palsy and Down’s syndrome. Most have been diagnosed with comorbid autism and TDAH ” 

“ A mom is delighted to receive nutritional help on the support group page. Her son is now on a diet that seems to be working. He does his homework well. In fact, he is making excellent progress and could even soon join a regular school of inclusive education. “

“I called another father who was happy to speak to me. Their son, Eri, a six-year-old boy with autism and ADHD, was showing off everything he had learned. When he joined RSETF, he was very hyperactive and showed signs of echolalia. But now he talks to others and makes excellent academic progress. “

“I had a video call with a student and his parents. His mom and dad are very happy that he has already finished all his homework. Parents say that before, before coming to the center, he had suffered many injuries due to his brutal way of playing. But by observing him now, they can see that he is very coordinated and has very good conversational skills. “

In the middle of the pandemic, I can’t help but smile when I read some of the messages from my parent colleagues about what is going on during this period of #homehome.

” Hello everyone. Thanks to the “holidays”, my son washes my car !!! Even if, by checking the meter, I realize that we had to use almost 1000 litres of water. “

 “My son managed to make us pineapple juice as we taught him at the Center. It is an incredible success. Thank you all. ” 

 “Hello Mom. Thanks for all the information and continued support. “

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