An autistics trainer, Mrs Oluwafunke Adetifa in Atunda Olu (Special School), Surulere, Lagos, on Monday said that autistic children were good runners and could compete with other physically challenged persons.
Adetifa made the assertion in an interview at the National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos.
Autism is a lifelong, developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with and relates to other people, and how they experience the world around them.
The Special Children were brought to the stadium to commemorate the World Autism Day, and to participate in the Queens Baton Relay for the Gold Coast 2018 XXI Commonwealth Games event.
The United Nations has set aside every April 2 as the World Autism Awareness Day.
The UN urges member nations to take measures to raise awareness about people with autism throughout the world.
The theme for this year’s Day is “Towards Autonomy and Self-Determination’’.
Adetiba said that autistic children understood sports commands and were good in field and track events.
“Autistic children are good in sports, it is what they always want to do, and we also compliment their efforts by making sure that they are well prepared for it.
“Autistic children are very competitive and can rub shoulders with other physically challenged person when it comes to sports and that is why we have special schools for them.
“They can compete with other handicapped athletes because they have drives in them and they also understand the command and can interpret correctly.
“Their favourite sports are track and field because they can be good runners, they are active participants in fields and sometimes track events like high jump,’’ she said.
On getting the attention of the special children in sports, Adetiba said it was easy getting them involved because they are always excited in sports.
“There is no problem with them when it comes to sports; they love sports though their learning ratio might be slower when it comes to assimilation compared with other physically challenged persons.
“Someone needs to be closer to them to understand their needs and how to get the best out of them when it comes to sports.
“Watching sports alone is fun to them, so, whenever they are called upon to do the sport, they exhibit what they would have learnt from what they have seen, especially the rudiments.
“We do have little issues with training them, but whenever there is any opportunity for them to compete they always put in their best defeating other handicapped,’’ she said.
Adetiba said that the school took the children to the stadium to have a sight of the Queens Baton Relay event and to encourage them about the ability in disability.
“We took them out so that they will be more exposed and to know that there is ability in disability.
“Many of them are already sports lovers, but we want others to have interest in sports so that they will be healthier. Sports not only train the body but gives health.
“Coming out to the stadium will enable them to meet with other colleagues and also meet some other athletes who are also disabled but are doing well in sports,’’ she said.