Developmental Disorders are disorders that occur at some stage in a child's development, often retarding the development. These may be in the area of communication, learning, reading, writing,, cerebral palsy, Down’s syndrome, brain injury, etc. and are grouped into two broad diagnostic and non-diagnostic categories: Specific Developmental Disorders and Pervasive Developmental Disorders..
Many of these conditions hinder the subjects from functioning adequately, while a number of them may degenerate beyond disorders, making the subject become a liability to the society without any obvious disability. Some end up in institutions, where conditions/ facilities meant to improve their state, are often dehumanizing.
Open literature has it that developmental disabilities are life-long disabilities resulting/attributable from/to mental or physical impairments that exist before the age of 18 to 22. The challenge is significant. According to best estimates of international agencies,
a. Over 90%of children with disabilities in developing countries do NOT attend schools.
b. 500,000 children lose some part of their vision due to some deficiency every year.
c. 41 million babies are born at risk of mental impairment due to some deficiency every year
d. Over 10 million children are psychologically traumatized by some conflicts yearly ( think of what crime or violence does to our children).
Further statistics show that the proportion of people with developmental disorders/disabilities worldwide is reported to be between 1 and 2% of the population in most western countries. Thus, apart from this 1 - 2%, we have the “carryovers” from delays to disorders unattended to, giving us more children with disabilities. If the figure is between 1 and 2% in the developed countries, where facilities and structures are in place and advanced for their management, the situation in Nigeria is left to your imagination. We have no concrete records of the affected population, we are still carrying out surveys; we are still sensitizing the nation on disability friendliness; we are still in a condition where parents have their children locked up in their homes, even at the stage of insignificant delays, at a stage where future disability can be prevented.
None of us prays for a child in this condition but they exist in our nuclear/extended families or in our neighborhood. The various centres caring for such cases are limited, expensive and beyond the reach of the average Nigerian family, and do not have the kind of personnel that this University can provide.
It is necessary that parents, teachers and caregivers are constantly reminded of or sensitize on the specific stages of physical, cognitive, behavioral, emotional, social development of the child to check delays and the possibility of preventing disabilities, as well as seek help for the already disabled to enable them to live independently. A Children Developmental Centre will do this. The Centre, when established, will improve the quality of life for all children and youth, especially those with, or at risk of, special needs and their families.