Story by: Ambali Fehintola

Near the end of love’s labour lies a child with bleeding heart begging for a fleeting attention in a fast paced world, where love, care and attention have seemingly become pricey than a piece of gold necklace.

Children with intellectual and developmental disabilities are among the nation’s most vulnerable citizens. Their craving needs for healthcare, education and social services should be recognized by government since they have equal rights like every other average child.

Disability is a physical, cognitive, intellectual, mental, and sensory limitation that impedes an individual’s capacity to participate in what is considered “normal” in a society. In the absence of effective education or rehabilitation, such disabilities can hinder a person’s full participation and potential in the society.

In April 2016, The United Nations Education Children Fund (UNICEF) said about 95 percent of children with disabilities numbering about seven million children with disabilities are out of school in Nigeria. This is as a result of inadequate policies and law to guide their right to education, healthcare, survival among other necessities due to a child.

These children have been subjected to untold discrimination from the society, neglected by parent/guardian, which can best be termed disheartening. Message of change have been preached too many times, yet the society at large seems to be asleep and blind to the precarious situations these children have been subjected to.

The time is now and the society needs to kick against such barbaric acts because in every disability, there is always a potential yearning for opportunity to spring forth its greatness. The society should show love and also support them. Their inabilities should not subject them to ridicule as they yet live with dreams for a better tomorrow.

Consequently, families reject children with disabilities, making them feel unwanted and abandoned, they wander the streets begging for alms. These children are excluded and denied their fundamental rights, as family members become fixated on the myths that only emphasize the embarrassment of giving birth to a child with disability and attributing such disability to the anger of their gods and  ancestral spirits.

Therefore, it is necessary for government to sensitize the general public on the causes of child disability, some of which includes;

  • Infections (present at birth or occurring after birth)
  • Chromosomal abnormalities (such as down syndrome)
  • Environmental
  • Metabolic (such as very hyperbilirubinemia, high bilirubin metabolism levels in babies)
  • Toxic (intrauterine exposure to alcohol, cocaine, amphetamines and other drugs)
  • Trauma (before and after birth).

Parents should show more concern in their children’s development, if they notice their child’s language skills are not developing and other disabilities seeking attention; they should contact a medical professional immediately.

However, the most important investment parents can give to their children is education and the freedom to participate in activities that will keep them happy like music, arts, indigenous crafts and sports, so that these children will be useful to themselves, family and their society. Child Disability is not a death sentence. Let us together bring out the ability in every physically challenged child. We are all capable of great things regardless of our physical appearance.

If being disabled is not a death sentence, then love should be the only fitting remedy for the physically challenged in our society.