EVERY Child is a Talent

All social media platforms were literally on “fire” last week following the performance of Kodie on America’s Got Talent. Yes, Kodie performed, but the real hero of the night was his mum who against all odds looked beyond his physical disabilities and focused on his abilities. What we saw in Kodie’s performance was the commitment and belief of a mother that her child can live beyond the labels of autism and blindness. However, his mum’s efforts and commitment came to the fore because of a system(government) that recognizes the equality of her citizens, right to education and made accommodations for all persons with special needs. Unfortunately, this is not the case in Nigeria as children with special needs comprises of one of the most neglected population socially and economically. Most of these children and their families face enormous economic, political, and social barriers that have impacted negatively on their physical, social, intellectual development and general wellbeing. As a result, their strengths, abilities and talents go unrecognized.

Every child is born to learn. And we have seen at different times that each child regardless of his/her diagnosis has a unique ability that another child does not have but the right support and a well-structured environment unlocks these potentials. In Nigeria, only about 20 per cent of children with special needs receive any form of education and only 10 per cent attend school. Study shows that about 65 per cent of children with special needs are out of school; and many other children not accounted for aged between 6 and 15 are not attending any form of schooling. Significant number of children with special needs have dropped out of school (a major challenge for parents) because schools that are privately funded refuse to keep the children on account of their disability, lack of special education teachers, assistive devices and facilities to support their learning.

As parents of these children, we can no longer sit back in silence, we are the voices of our children, we must advocate for special services and seek for government intervention and support in instituting Special Education and all-inclusive classrooms for these children. Special Education identifies the educational needs of children with special needs and supports in the effective fulfilment of those needs. Both regular and special school programs play a huge role in unlocking the potentials of our children.

We must lend our voices!