July 28, 2023

Autism: Experts seek policies, legislation to increase job opportunities for affected


By Chioma Obinna

To mitigate the challenges faced by individuals with Autism  Spectrum Disorders, ASD, experts have called for effective policies and legislation to encourage organisations to give opportunities to Nigerians on the spectrum. 

Speaking at the just-concluded Annual  GTCO Autism Conference in Lagos,  international and national experts who gathered at the conference agreed that implementing legislation that gives credit to firms will help create organisations to create job opportunities for persons on the ASD spectrum. 

The President of the Behaviourprise Consulting Incorporation, based in Toronto, Canada, Lanre Duyile, suggested tax breaks implementation for organisations that provide needed jobs for persons on the spectrum, adding that such action could encourage more companies to toe the same line.

Duyile who spoke to journalists shortly after his presentation at the event themed: ‘Empowering voices for Autism’ designed to make parents of children living with autism as well as adults, accept the condition rather than choose to live in denial.  

He explained that ASD is a developmental disability caused by differences in the brain. 

He said people with ASD often have problems with social communication and interaction, and restricted or repetitive behaviours or interests.

He stressed that one of the major challenges of people with ASD was the difficulty in getting jobs for living with the disability even though getting needed jobs for them is an issue of human rights.

He posited that for persons with ASD, experts noted that this group of persons should not be excluded from jobs, adding that they must live an inclusive lifestyle. 

Addressing the specific challenge of limited job opportunities from the public and private sector facing autistic persons in communities, Duyile said: “I thought if the legislature could do this and make laws encouraging firms to create job opportunities and allow organisations and people who do this to get some tax breaks,” it will help.

Responding to questions on whether autistic persons can provide services needed in communities, Duyile said whenever they get close to graduation, they should be exposed to various vocational skills.

“Maybe they can help with moving boxes from one place to the next or maybe it’s in making sure things are clean. Whatever it is as far as it is skill oriented, it’s about jobs for affected persons.”

The Group Chief Executive Officer of  Guaranty Trust Holding Company PLC, Mr Segun Agbaje said with autism rates increasing around the world, “It is pertinent to ramp up support available to persons with autism and their families. In this regard, each of us has a vital role to play in shaping a society that fully embraces diversity within the autism spectrum and actively promotes acceptance of persons with autism.”

Agbaje said there was the need to ensure We must ensure that every voice is heard and every experience is valued, simply because we believe that when it comes to autism and other neurological disorders, inclusivity is not just a checkbox to mark off, it is rather a transformative force that fuels growth and success.”

On the theme of the conference ‘Empowering Voices for Autism,’ the GCEO of GTCO said, “We hope to significantly expand the frontiers of autism management and inspire confidence in individuals with autism to reach their fullest potential in art, business, leadership, innovation and other aspects of human development.

On her part, Tomi Agboola, a speech and 6 based in London, said the programme is about giving a voice to our loved ones.

She said the effect of living with autism can be downplayed but those around them “can change the environment and the setting and make sure that they are at the same level with us.

” That is by giving them structures and providing references, strategies, and techniques which are crucial.’