Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Special Diet

I am not a dietician but in my years of working with special needs kids, I have come to realize the impact of food in the general well being of the child. I will share some examples below.

1. Zeezee
Zeezee is autistic and she has been on a strict diet (casein and gluten free) for sometime now.
We noticed recently that she had suddenly become very hyperactive. There was a lot of biting, incessant screaming which up until then, we had been able to keep to a minimum. 

We kept wondering what could have happened. We started the investigation by asking her family some questions, slowly crossing off any food she may have started eating recently and checking her vitamins to know what she was reacting to.
We discovered that her dad just developed the habit of taking Zeezee and her brothers out to the cinema on Saturdays where they eat lots of popcorn, soda and then pizza and ice cream. When we put a stop to all the fast food and sweet drinks, Zeezee became calmer after just 3 days.

2. Timon
Timon has spastic Cerebral Palsy and his mum insists that he won't take pap or tea without sugar or milk and his therapist has noticed he is very stiff and has increased spasms.

Most parents find it very difficult to do the various diets and to an extent it can be challenging. It is not easy to get rice milk and almond milk (some diary alternatives) or stevia (natural sweeteners) or organic cubes in supermarkets or the market places and when you get them, they are usually very expensive.


Getting the child to comply is another challenge. I know a parent who spent a lot of money to buy rice milk, gluten free flour, pasta and so on, only to be disappointed when the child refused to smell the food. It was so bad that the mere sight of any of the packages caused him to throw terrible tantrums. As a result, they had to hide everything deep inside the store house and later on threw everything away when they expired.

When parents ask for suggestions,I ask them to start gradually by first cutting out processed food or junk food as much as possible especially sugar and cook more farm fresh fruits and vegetables as its safer and cheaper.

Please any dieticians or parents who are experienced about nutrition could give us more advice on dieting or what has been working for them.

Images courtesy: 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Therapist Thursdays 1: Amaka

Meet one of the people who are changing the world, one special child at a time.....

Can you please introduce yourself?
My name is Okeleke Marian Amaka. I am a therapist and I work with Sensory Care Paediatric Services.

Why did you choose to become a therapist? 
Love.....compassion, I have always wanted to help children with special needs and this job gives me a chance to do just that.

Area of interest, why?
I'm a Special Education Therapist. I chose this area because I love seeing children surmount obstacles and reach their highest potential.

Pros of being a therapist / things you like about your vocation?
The fact that I can help children achieve as much independence as possible and actually see it happen. 

Things you dislike about your vocation?
Hmm...parents hands-off attitude. They believe since they’ve paid you're supposed to carry all responsibilities of the child. They expect sharp sharp result and if this does not happen, you'll will be queried.

Your happiest moments in therapy?
When a child improves and responds positively to therapy.

Favourite therapy material, why?
Lego blocks and flash cards because they can be used for any child at any level.

What you wish parents know about therapy?
That the earlier they get a diagnosis, the better.
They should try to stay positive and remove anxiety and fear.

What are the challenges you face practicing in Nigeria?
 Practicing in Nigeria is really challenging o!
1. Now it's rainy season, traffic in Lagos is terrible, some days you arrive disheveled,.
2. Getting therapy materials is another challenge, we have to source for most our materials outside              Nigeria.
3. The issues with trying to fit your child’s learning styles with school teaching styles is really really  difficult and some of the schools are not ready to change for your child. They'd rather refer the child to the special schools or put the child in special needs units and these units don’t have a planned curriculum to address the child’s academic needs.

Thanks a lot for your time
You're welcome.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Help for your special needs child is here in Nigeria

Yes, today is public service announcement day....

Is your child not meeting the developmental milestone appropriate for his/her age? 
Is he/she aware of the environment or not functionally using multi-sensory input gotten from the environment?
Is he/she sluggish, dull?
Is his/her behaviour affecting learning?


This is a pediatric care service provider and their services include:
Assessments and evaluation
Sensory Integration and Neuro-Developmental Approach [NDT]
One-on-one cognitive therapy services at home
Prescription of assistive devices and setting up sensory rooms in home and at school
Gross and Fine motor exercises

For children with:
Cerebral palsy
Down syndrome 
Other learning disabilities

For more information: 081 6993 1962,

Images courtesy of