Friday, July 11, 2014

Autism and Beauty pageants

Really sorry for the delay in posting, I've been really busy, what with the expansion of our services to accommodate more children, it's been hectic but I'm happy to say that things are taking shape...Thank God.

I was going through some journals online [because If you want to be the best at whatever you do, you have to keep up with the rest of the world, constant reading is a very good way, also taking part in any activities that can help you improve yourself] and I came across an article which made me think of our special children here in Nigeria and all the great talents yet untapped. It made me think about how far we have come as therapists in Nigeria and how far we still have to go. The good news is, we are on the right path and we will get child at a time.

What you're about to read is an article written by Robin L. Brey, M.D. Editor-In-Chief of the June/July 2014 issue of Neurology Now, which is an American Journal for the Neurology Academy.

The cover story in this issue of Neurology Now features Alexis Wineman, a remarkable young woman with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Alexis has persevered in the face of many obstacles and thrived. Crowned “Miss Montana” in 2012, she was the first Miss America contestant with ASD in the 92-year history of the competition. When she learned that each contestant in the pageant had to focus on a platform or an issue, Alexis chose awareness and acceptance of ASD. She came up with the title, “Normal Is Just a Dryer Setting: Living with Autism.” Today, she attends Huntingdon College in Montgomery, AL.

Her story chronicles the many challenges people with ASD face and the determination required to succeed. What I find most compelling is the way she stresses the need to not let “being different” define or limit a person. She even extended her mission to include everyone who feels as though they don't belong.

ASD is a syndrome, as our story points out, not a disease. The main symptom is difficulty with social interaction. Children may appear to develop normally and then withdraw from social interaction. Other symptoms include trouble communicating, inflexible or repetitive behaviors, an inability to monitor clues about how other people are feeling, and a lack of empathy. 

Some children with ASD—such as Wineman—have relatively mild symptoms, but for others, the symptoms can be disabling. It is important for children with ASD to get therapy early because this leads to the greatest chance for symptom improvement. Treatments always include educational and behavioral therapy and, in some cases, medications. For many children, the symptoms improve with treatment and age.

Many children with ASD, like Wineman, experience delays in getting a diagnosis. Sometimes they are misdiagnosed as having a different problem. These children may be given medications that don't help ASD and cause side effects. Also like Wineman, many children struggle in school and are teased or even bullied.

Unfortunately, this can happen to any child who is “different” in some way—because of a speech impediment, muscle weakness due to muscular dystrophy, trouble walking due to cerebral palsy, a seizure disorder, or cognitive difficulties due to Down syndrome. Children with any of these problems have much to deal with in addition to the normal demands of growing up. Bullying or teasing only adds to the burden.

ASD is very common, occurring in 1 out of every 68 American children. [currently about 1 in 50 in the world] When we add all of the other children with developmental problems that contribute to difficulty in doing well in school or socializing, the numbers are staggering! 

Chances are you know a child living with this daily challenge. The key is to recognize when a child is struggling, get help in identifying the cause, and find appropriate treatment as early as possible. This is a child's best shot for a successful transition into adulthood.

If you or someone you know has struggled to fit in for any reason, tell us about it by emailing 

Your story about how you worked through or around this obstacle may be the pivotal factor in helping someone else.

To read more about Alexis:

Images courtesy of:,,,,,,,,,

1 comment:

  1. Lovely article, please keep it up.