"Nneka. where did you find this abominable thing from? he's so slow, he hasn't mentioned a word since you brought him home."

"Papa...Gideon is no thing, he's a child just like all other children"

"Tufiakwa! You call this one that arranges clothes of the same colors in a row, doesn't talk to anyone, eats like he's cursed and walks slowly like he's being escorted to his death a child? no.. this is no child. This is a caricature of a human being."

"Papa, children like this, are special children.. they were born this way"

"Ehen now... your father is right. Maybe Amadioha struck his mother with an incurable disease and it passed on to him."

"Mama... that's a horrible thing to say"

"it's not horrible. It's the truth. That child is cursed." her mother arranged her wrapper

"How will you even think of adopting a child like that, what if he is a witch and was driven away from home, or probably an Osu?" her father spat

"Ewo! an Osu? Nneka Gburu m (meaning: Nneka has killed me)....why adopt a child like that?"

"Mama, Papa, i found Gideon when i was volunteering in Borno. His family had been been displaced by the war. With his condition, it wasn't easy for him to integrate with the other children in the orphanage home. I felt a special bond with him and decided to bring him home.

Her mother shot the father a quick glance..."Nneka has gone mad. Bond, with a child that's cursed? imagine where you brought him from.  A place where you only have blind beggars, the crippled and dirty people. Please return him"

" I  don't blame you Nneka. If you were married and you had children of your own to cater to, you won't be bothered with adoption. Ndi ara." Her father cursed.

Nneka stood up. Walked towards the balcony and remembered Gideon was alone in the room. She turned to go back inside but her father's best friend Pa Uzor, waved at her. 

"Ndewo Pa uzor" she greeted

"Ehen... Doctor, how are you?"

"I'm fine papa..."

"Welcome. I heard you went to 'rescue' the people those Hausa men bombed"

"Yes sir...." she chuckled

Wondering why Nneka had answered his last question amidst a laugh, Pa Uzor strolled into the house of his bosom friend.

These villagers really knew how to exaggerate situations. Nneka was quite sure, her father had given everyone the impression of her being a messiah. The phrase which pa Uzor used was hilarious "she had gone to rescue those that had been bombed" if that was the case, what then would the soldiers assigned there say?

"Giddy are you hungry?" Nneka rubbed his head

He raised his head, pointed into the thin air and mouthed "hungeee"

Nneka chuckled, Picked him up and went in to get him some food.

"Nneka......Nneka Pa Uzor wants to see you oh" her mother's voice rang from the living room. 

"Okay ma"

"Giddy i'll be back." she kissed his forehead and went out to answer her mother

" I met uncle outside already"

"Ehen it doesn't matter, i also wanted you to see Uzoma

"Hello Aunty..." Nneka greeted

"Nwanyi mma ran ma( meaning:beautiful woman)...Welcome home my darling"

"Thank you Aunty"

"Hungeee....Hungeee" Giddy rushed into the living room

"Who brought this thing here? common get out!" her father spat

"Sie ba puo! ( meaning: get out from here)  her mother waved him off.

Nneka was infuriated. "Papa please i don't like that. You are making him feel uncomfortable"

"I didn't plan on making him feel comfortable" her father frowned

"Then, you are asking me to leave."

 "You'd chose a bewitched child over your family? her father fumed

Nneka was mute

"Nneka that child looks like he's mentally ill." Aunty Uzoma queried.

 "Aunty Uzoma, Gideon  is not mentally retarded. He is an Autistic child."

"Look at this child. We are saying, someone looks like a white man;  You said, No it's a Reverend father. Biko, what's the difference Pa Uzor laughed

"What you all don't understand is that, Autism, also known as The Autism Spectrum Disorder is a developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life. It is the result of a neurological disorder that affects the functioning of the brain, and occurs in approximately 1 out of every 68 births. Autism is five times more prevalent in boys  than girls and knows no racial, ethnic or social boundaries. Family income, lifestyle and educational levels do not affect the chance of autism's occurrence.

Autism is a brain disorder that affects a person's ability to communicate, to reason, and to interact with others. It is a spectrum disorder. Meaning, it affects individuals differently and at varying degrees of severity.

Children and adults with autism typically have difficulties with communication, social interactions and relationships, and leisure or play activities. The disorder interferes with the ability to communicate with others or become independent members of the community. Some individuals with autism may exhibit repeated body movements (such as hand flapping, rocking), unusual responses to people or attachments to objects, and resist any changes in routines. In some cases, aggressive and/or self-injurious behavior may be present.

 "So, Nneka, how do we know children with this autism?" Her mother asked.

Children with autism often appear relatively normal in their development until the age of 18-30 months, when parents may notice delays in language, play, or social interaction. Any of the following delays by themselves would not result in a diagnosis of autism. Autism is a combination of developmental challenges. The following are among those which may be affected by autism:

  • Communication: language develops slowly or not at all; words may be used without attaching the usual meaning to them; gestures may be used instead of words; and child may have short attention spans.
  • Social interaction: individual may spend time alone rather than with others; child may show little interest in making friends and may be less responsive to social cues such as eye contact or smiles.
  • Sensory Impairment: Child may be over-sensitive or under-responsive to pain, light, sound, smell or touch.
  • Play: Child may demonstrate lack of spontaneous or imaginative play; may not imitate others' and actions; may not initiate pretend games.

  • Behaviors: Child may be overactive or very passive; may throw frequent tantrums for no apparent reason; and may also become over-focused or absorbed with a single item, idea, or person; many children, demonstrate apparent lack of common sense; and may display aggressive behavior or injure self.                                                                    
 "what causes it?" Aunty Ebere who had walked in on their conversation asked.

"Although these is no single specific cause of autism, current research links autism to biological and neurological differences in the brain. In some families, there appears to be a pattern of autism or related disabilities which suggests there may be a genetic basis to this disorder." Nneka replied

"can we also say people with this autism are mentally ill?" she asked again

"Autism is not a mental illness, and individuals with autism do not choose to behave differently. Autism is not caused by bad parenting. Furthermore, no known psychological factors in the development of the individual have been shown to cause autism.

" So now that this boy has it... how do you cure him? her father asked.

Papa there is currently no known cure for autism; however, we are finding better ways to understand the disorder and help people cope with the various symptoms of the disability. Some of these symptoms may lessen as the individual ages; others may disappear altogether. With appropriate intervention, many of the behaviors associated with autism can be positively changed, even to the point that the child or adult may appear to the untrained person to no longer have autism. The majority of children and adults will, however, continue to exhibit some of the symptoms of autism to some degree throughout their lives."

"I never really knew about all this. Thank God i walked in on you, when you were enlightening Papa and Mama. Hopefully, the way we perceive children with this ailment changes."

"I hope so too." Nneka walked up to Gideon who had curled beside the heap of newspaper in the living room. 

"ohhh.. i feel so bad for throwing tantrums about this boy's presence" His father shook his head.

"Hmmm......May God help us all" her mother prayed.

"Amen,"  they all echoed.


  1. is there an autism center in Nigeria for autistic children? nice read

    1. There are few bodies working hard to create awareness. But, I doubt if there's a functional centre yet. I'll am not saying there isn't, but I don't also think there's any renowned one

  2. awwwwww story had me emosh... so autism isn't mental illness afterall.

  3. Becky are you igbo? i love the way you mince your sentences with igbo language. message well received well done darling

    1. I am Igbo from my maternal side but paternally, I'm from Edo State. Thanks dear

  4. please is autism different from down syndrome? i use to think they were the same o. Becky you need to also enlighten us on downsyndrome

    1. They are totally different from each other. Down syndrome is a chromosomal illness. I'll write a story on it soon.

  5. Autism and mental illness is different I knew all this while but this story shed more light. Well put becks

  6. All these disease can make somebody fear Sha I cover my unborn children with the blood of Jesus

  7. I always look forward to this category on the blog. Today's read was equally educating and intriguing. Well done baby girl

  8. Please write on HIV and stigmatisation I'm positive and I need people to know we are humans too

    1. I will! I sure will darling #E-hugs

    2. HIV has been over flogged abeg. Go on Google you'll see plenty essays on it. Becca we need awareness on new stuffs please.