Health & Fitness

How To Relate To Children With Special Needs

I remember meeting a young man who was born blind.

He was such a remarkable young man that knew everyone by name after meeting him or her for the first.

It was my first time of interacting closely with someone with an obvious disability. As we got talking, he shared with me how his parents treated him like every other child in the family with no special treatment. He went to public schools from secondary to university. As we were in class together, he never shirked from doing his class work and assignments. At that, time even had a high paying job at a multinational organisation in Lagos.

Initially, when I started relating with him I felt pity for him that this intelligent man would not be able to see but that pity quickly evaporated as I saw him do things for himself some of which sighted people like me struggled with, he did with ease. Then I wondered how he coped when he was a child…

Disability may be a challenge but it is not a death verdict. Children with special needs are often treated unkindly. Other kids jest and make fun of their disability and the best of kids pity them. Special needs children do not need unkindness, jests and even pity what they need is to be treated well like every other child.

Here are principles to guide you when you are relating with special needs children and even adults;

  1. Think highly of them: your thoughts about people affects how you relate to them. If you assume the best of actions of a special need child, they rise to meet with that positive flow. Know that they are trying their best at that time.
  2. Be patient with them: The reality is that a child with a disability may not be able to do as much as you do. Be understanding of their struggles and don’t make them feel bad about it. You can practically show this by giving them time to process instructions, direction and not assuming they are just being difficult.
  3. Be sincere with them: If you don’t understand something they are saying act them to explain, say it slowly or even write it out. Don’t assume, ask questions for clarity as physical disability is not the same as intellectual disability
  4. Seek consent before helping: A special needs person may not necessarily need help in certain areas that you may think they do. Ask before helping out, as the special needs child may have a preference for how the help should be rendered.
  5. Do not fear them: special needs children live the reality of having one form of disability or the other. You do not need to be afraid of them. Treat their challenges as natural as having you would treat someone with malaria, I’m sure you don’t run from them right?
  6. Do not talk down at them: When you interact with special needs people don’t treat them like babies. Talk to them as you would to another child of their age. Let your tone and body language convey respect.
  7. Do not disclose unobvious disability: If the disability is not obvious, you should not disclose it without permission from the persons concerned.
  8. Encourage interactions with other kids: Special needs kids need to be encouraged to interact with both disabled and non-disabled kids to develop a healthy human relationship. However, it is better not to interact with non-disabled kids who ill-treat and bully.
  9. Teach them to be independent: Special needs kids can do so much than people want to give them credit. Allow that child to practice simple skills, like bathing, self-cleaning, dressing up, choosing what to wear, and other advanced skills. It may be difficult at first but with encouragement, this independence skill will be developed and enhanced.
  10. Play up their strength: Special needs kids have their limitations always staring them in the face on daily basis yet they have strength, skills, and talent that should be given due recognition. Recognize their strengths and encourage them.
  11. Give them a chance to give: It is natural to think that special needs kids only need to be given care, attention, encouragement but do you know that they can support you in various ways. They can help in the home to the best of their abilities, give a hug, say encouraging words, and do chores and many other things.

Children with special needs are diamonds in the rough. Read up on the lives of Hellen Keller, Nick Vujicic, Asuquo Cobham, Stevie Wonder, and see how there is the ability in disability.




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Common Childhood Cancers And Treatment Options  

The body is made up of cells that are vital to life. When some of these cells grow out of control, they become abnormal.

The body process for growth of new cells involves replacing old cells with new ones but sometimes the process goes wrong and then new cells are formed even when the body does not need demand the old cell refuses to die.

These extra cells can form a tumour, which is either benign or malignant. Malignant tend to be cancerous because they invade surrounding tissues while benign tumours are not cancerous. There are over 200 different types of cancer. Cancer that occurs in adult varies largely from those that occur in children. The commonest types of cancer that affect children are

  1. Leukemia
  2. Brain and spinal cord tumors
  3. Neuroblastoma
  4. Lymphoma (including both Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin)
  5. Rhabdomyosarcoma
  6. Retinoblastoma
  7. Bone cancer (including osteosarcoma and Ewing sarcoma)
  8. Wilms tumor


Leukaemia is cancer that affects the blood and bone marrow. It accounts for 30% of all the cases of cancer affecting children. Acute lymphocytic leukaemia (ALL) and acute myelogenous leukaemia (AML) are the commonest types of Leukaemia found in children. Children with this disease often suffer weakness, bone and joint pain, fatigue, bleeding, fever, weight loss etc.  As soon as acute leukaemia is detected, it needs to be treated quickly because it grows fast.

Brain and Spinal cord tumours

Most brain tumours in children occur in the lower parts of the brain causing blurred vision headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and seizures, finding it hard to handle objects and walk properly. Spinal cord tumours are not as common as brain tumours. Brain and Spinal cord tumours account for 26% of childhood cancer. It is second to Luekaemia in its prevalent among children.  There are different types of brain tumours that demand different treatment.


Neuroblastoma develops in infants and young children less than 10 years old. Usually, it grows from some nerve cells in the foetus.  This can occur in any part of the body but it usually starts in the belly as a swelling, which causes bone pain and fever.  It accounts for about 6% of childhood cancers.

Wilms Tumour

Wilms tumour also is known as nephroblastoma affects the kidney. It is common among kids between 3 to 4 years old. It can present as a lump or swelling around the abdomen. Some of the symptoms are fever, pain, nausea, or poor appetite. Wilms tumour accounts for about 5% of childhood cancers.


Lymphomas affects the immune system cells known as lymphocytes. It also affects the bone marrow and other organs of the body. There are two main types of lymphoma -Hodgkin lymphoma (Hodgkin disease) and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Some of the symptoms of lymphomas are weight loss, fever, sweats, tiredness, and swollen lymph nodes under the skin.


This type of cancer affects the cells responsible for the growth of skeletal muscles. It can start in any part of the body. It presents with swellings and pain at the part affected.


Retinoblastoma is the type of cancer that affects the eye. It usually occurs in children around the age of two, and it is rarely found in children older than 6. The child’s eye is unusual in the sense that when you shine a torch on the pupil it turns white instead of red.

Bone Cancers

This type of cancer affects the bones. It often occurs in teens and older kids but it can start at any age.  The two main types of bone cancer found in children are Osteosarcoma and Ewing sarcoma.

Treatment of Childhood Cancers

The treatment for cancer depends on the type of cancer involved and how advanced it is. These treatments include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery, stem cell transplants and targeted therapy.

Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy refers to drugs that kill actively growing cancerous cells. Cancer cells grow rapidly without heeding the normal signals of the body that control the growth of cells.

Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy, also known as targeted therapy or biotherapy. It is a cancer treatment that invigorates a patient’s immune system so it is equipped to fight disease. This is done in partnership with other cancer treatments.

Radiation Therapy: Radiation is a form of X-rays that is used to create images of areas of the body that cannot be easily seen. Cancer treatment requires higher doses of radiation. It works by preventing and destroying the growth and reproduction of dividing cells

Bone marrow transplant: This involves the replacement of the faulty spongy tissue or stem cells  inside the bones.  These stem cells are the ones that develop into red blood cells, which helps to fight infections. This is used in the treatment of bone cancer.

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