Don: Why children’s communication disorder persists in Nigeria

A professor of Linguistics in Child Language and Communication Disorder at the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), Shirley Yul-Ifode says there is lack of attention in the area of children’s communication pattern and disorder in Nigeria.

This, she explained has made the inculcation of societal values and traditions in the children difficult and thereby breeds the resultants social vices.

While presenting her Inaugural Lecture on the topic: “The Child Beyond the Breath of Life: Our Corporate Concern,” at the NOUN headquarters in Abuja, Yul-Ifode urged authorities and community leaders to prioritise the need to develop child language and continue to pay deserving attention to language disabilities and general communication disorder for a proper child upbringing.

The lecture, which the Vice-Chancellor of the university, Abdalla Uba Adamu, said was the university’s 14th in the series, was part of the requirement of any lecturer who attains the rank of professorship in the academic journey.

Yul-Ifode said the consequences of a communication disordered person transcend the communication activity, “because of the relationship between the developing child and his language, the medium of communication, which is an index of normal/healthy development, maladjustment, as well as some developmental disorders.”

“Any family that goes beyond the breath of life and pays attention to the language development of a child will be able to identify deviations not only in the communication patterns, when they arise, but also in other areas of the development of the child for early intervention,” she added.

She admonished parents to quickly provide help and support to a child identified with such disorders to minimise the effect of the attendant limitation placed on people with communication disorder.

The university don lamented that the various organisations involved with persons with disabilities have continued to operate in isolation in the country, leaving stakeholders with only occasions as World Disability Day, Children’s Day, World Autism Day to meet.

She advised that interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary forum should be organised to brainstorm on the way forward for the special children in Nigeria.

    The NOUN Vice-Chancellor, Adamu, while commenting on the lecturer, described her as someone who took an unusual step presenting her Inaugural Lecture by developing her research into reality.

    He urged the Faculty of Arts of the university to think of establishing a Research Centre of Communication Disorders, due to the critical need of such to address the ubiquitous instances of language disabilities and communication disorder.

    Adamu said with about N90 million funds reserved for institutions based researches by the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TetFUND), other faculties of the university should begin to develop ways of partnerships towards relevant researches on specific areas of learning.

    He described the topic as apt, stressing that “we all faced language disorder in our lives and with our children,” which made the presentation “absolutely wonderful and inspiring.”


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