“Children with special needs come into our lives, leaving footprints on our hearts and we are never the same”. ANON

Usually when we mention children with Special needs, we think about children with intellectual and physical disabilities. This is not always the case. Today, I will concentrate on a less recognised class – Gifted otherwise known as  exceptional children with special needs.

Mrs. Nyam  George swings by to pick up the last of her 3 boys – Bambo, from the playgroup he attends.  She finds Bambo who has barely turned 18 months, engrossed in doing sums. After berating the teacher because she finds his peers learning through playing with Plasticine (clay) and crayons as against his doing sums, she then storms out to see the Proprietress – Mrs. Williams to register her displeasure.

Mrs. Williams, a seasoned educationist and experienced child psychologist responds: “Please calm down madam, what we are doing is in the best interest of Bambo.  I have taken time to observe him and have come to the conclusion that he exhibits the characteristics of a GIFTED child”.  She continues, “That being the case, he must be encouraged to sustain his interest in the playgroup through constant intellectual stimulation which requires that he be handled differently from his peers.” She explains further, “ A gifted child is one who demonstrates an advanced ability or potential in one or more specific areas when compared with his peers of the same age, experience or environmental exposure. A whiz kid or prodigy.  Such children become bored with repetitive tasks or repetitive learning, which can make them restless. They are constantly looking for the next milestone to conquer”.  

Mrs. George gasps and exclaims “No wonder!  I’ve observed  the energy and speed at which he picks up words, notices things around him and the like.”

Mrs. Williams explains further “Madam think back to his infancy.  He probably hit developmental milestones earlier than his peers. Milestones such as walking, talking , potty training etc.”

“ Hmmm…yes indeed” Mrs. George replies her head bobbing up and down in agreement. “I returned from work one day and he was walking at 7 months, he spoke quite clearly at 13 months. I found him enigmatic but couldn’t really explain it.”. “ He is obviously different from his brothers, but tell me, how do we handle him ma?”

Mrs. Williams then advises on available options:

“One, today, a lot of traction can be obtained through HOME SCHOOLING. This holds multiple advantages for Bambo as he can be taught at his own pace and can also be introduced to a varied school curriculum, tailored to his needs and interests as against following the rigidity of regular schools. She further explains: “ This option will also help the family bonding as it affords studies within the family circle and allows more time for interaction with members of the family. The love from family will assist him to further actualise his giftings. He should also be enrolled in extra-curricular activities e.g. sports, music, etc to enable him interact socially and gain interactive and interpersonal skills”.

Mrs. George is now calm and quiet as Mrs Williams continues with her advice.

“Two, another option is to keep him within the regular school system while keeping a close watch on his school studies and activities and partnering with his teachers to ensure he is always adequately challenged  thus preventing him from becoming restless, distant or bored with classes.”

“Three, you may also wish to enrol him into a school for gifted children. Such schools are properly equipped to handle the special needs of Gifted children but they  are few and far between”.

“However at or about the age of 5 years, he should do an IQ test to measure his intelligence quotient. This must be done by a Licensed psychologist and the IQ of gifted children usually ranges between 125-140″.

Mrs. Nyam  George leaves the office of Mrs. Williams better informed and consumed in thoughts about holding this conversation with her husband, Paul George.

If you were Mrs. George what would be your preferred option?

Watch out next week for episode 2 on the intellectually impaired child.



A Mother’s Love~Calvin M Lake

A Mother’s love, a Mother’s care,
A Mother’s sigh, a Mother’s prayer
A Mother’s work, and Mother’s day,
Leaves little time for any play.

A Godly Mother with Godly love,
Is treasure from God above,
A Godly Mother with Godly care,
Has God’s help when she sighs a prayer.

This is to all the moms, moms to be, and grand moms in the house!




Carla parks her car and dashes across my kitchen floor. She opens the fridge and empties a large glass of water in 3 huge gulps and in spite of the air conditioning, she is dripping with sweat. I ask “Carla…what’s with the sweat”. Carla responds that in the past two weeks she has generally felt unwell, experienced fatigue, breaking out in sporadic sweats especially at night. Carla turned  45 last June and I ask if she has thought about Menopause as a probable cause. “Wow….Havilah, I’m just 45. That can’t be the prognosis”. Trust me,  I decided to give Carla a brief  talk on the state termed “MENOPAUSE”.

What is Menopause? Another name for menopause is the climacteric. It is the time when women’s menstrual flows cease and they are no longer able to conceive. It is usually preceded by a number of symptoms which may or may not cease even after menopause kicks in.

What is the Cause? It could arise from a natural change in hormonal balance or as a result of surgery to remove the ovaries or some types of chemotherapy.

At what age does it commence? It usually occurs between the ages of 48-52 years but in some cases it could occur earlier or later than the average band width.

What are some of the symptoms?

  1. Irregular periods.
  2. Changes in the volume of menstrual flow.
  3. Hot flashes that are short periods where intense internal heat is felt resulting in profuse sweating and possible shivering as a result.
  4. Night sweats.
  5. Insomnia.
  6. Mood swings.
  7. Vaginal dryness and reduced libido.
  8. Osteoporosis (reduction in bone density).

Can it be treated? The severity of the symptoms vary for each individual and where the symptoms become very uncomfortable, prescribed medication may help. However, the situation can often be managed by lifestyle changes that include :

Vitamin supplements


Keeping within cool environments

The right nutritional diet

Reduction in the intake of stimulants e.g. caffeine, alcohol, tobacco etc.

“Hmm….Havilah, that was some help. I think you absolutely nailed it. Now I have an inkling …it could be menopause setting in.”

“Carla, I think you should see your Doctor and once confirmed, please involve Chad – your husband to see you through the transition. It sometimes takes a toll on the family relationship – especially your partner”.

See you next week y’all!



Baby Blues!

Ummu, Yamide, Nengi and Ifueko had been meeting constantly at the Doctor’s  waiting room at Radcliffe Hospital, for the past 3 to 4 months because their antenatal days happen to coincide.

Ummu, a housewife and mother of two, is expecting her third child at age 36 while Yamide, an upwardly mobile career woman, a primigravida at an advanced maternal age, is expecting her first child. Both are in their third trimester of pregnancy  as they eagerly await the arrival of their babies. Nengi, at 24 is experiencing her first pregnancy as well and is expecting twins. She is in her second trimester while Ifueko who gave birth prematurely at 29weeks and lost the baby 9 months earlier, is in the first trimester of this current pregnancy All four are patients of the resident gynecologist – Dr. Bellgam.

Given Ifueko’s recent unsavoury experience, she initiates the conversation by addressing Ummu and Yamide who seemed deeply engrossed in discussion. “I really am worried about this baby, given that I lost the first one”. Ummu and Yamide respond in empathy “what happened?” Ifueko explains  “It was my first pregnancy and I had no clue about all the signs so I did not even realise I was pregnant until I was 5 months gone. I felt a little fatigued and gained a little weight but did not experience the common symptoms of nausea and  producing excessive saliva. In the fifth month of pregnancy, I visited a cousin and was about to leave, when I suddenly fainted and after I was revived, I was taken to a hospital and pronounced pregnant. I then registered for antenatal visits with that hospital. Things were great until I woke up in the early hours of one morning to find my bed wet. I was later informed that my amniotic sac (“Bag of waters”) ruptured and unfortunately, the hospital I was using lacked both the human capacity and equipment to handle a premature delivery. Nengi, who has been eavesdropping all the while, whispers a loud..”my God!” as Ifueko continues with the details “ The baby was born with a low birth weight and in the absence of an incubator and other relevant equipment, survived for only 10 hours.”

Ummu hurries to re-assure her that every baby is different and she probably will not experience the same. She further informs her that Dr. Bellgam is highly experienced and had birthed her first two children. She continues…” During my first pregnancy, I suffered eclampsia (high blood pressure in pregnancy) but it was properly controlled and I delivered Ahmed easily. For Aisha though, it was a difficult pregnancy starting with Carpel tunnel syndrome which had to be managed in pain throughout the pregnancy. Thank God, it disappeared after delivery. Then, at 36 weeks, Aisha had a breech presentation which Dr. Bellgam carefully maneuvered and I had a normal delivery although he had prepared my mind in the inevitability of a Caesarean section . My current pregnancy has however been without issues. One other key thing is – this is a hospital with specialisation in gynecology and obstetrics so all necessary expertise and equipment are available”.

Yamide chips in “  Given my age in becoming a primigravida, I experienced unusual cravings for food I didn’t usually eat and also suffered a couple of threatened abortions. I was further informed that the neck of my cervix was weak but with a shirodkar stitch in place, my EDD is in a week’s time. I know I’m going to have this baby and he will survive”.

Nengi quips, clapping her hands….”So it’s a boy. You weren’t telling, but it’s out now.” She continues….”A word of advice to you Ifueko. It is important to check out the rating and inspect the facilities your hospital has before settling for them. More especially, where the pregnancy is your first, because there are so many things that can go wrong to cause mother or child mortality or even end up in  disability. I suffered pica in which I was gulping down volumes of Ice daily (which I thought was probably because of increased internal heat) but when I mentioned it to the Doctor, he conducted some tests and treated me for Pica. That has since stopped.

Ummu’s last words as the veteran in the room are  “ Each pregnancy comes with its own challenges which are different in presentation and intensity, however the key things you must do are:

  • Enroll with a qualified experienced Gynecologist and where in doubt, with a Government facility or Teaching hospital.
  • Be prayerful and commit the pregnancy and delivery process to God.
  • Be attentive about diet and exercise”.


Primigravida –  A woman who is pregnant for the first time.

Shirodkar –  A surgical procedure which involves tightening the neck of the cervix.

EDD – Expected Date of Delivery.

Pica – An unusual craving to eat things that are not food e.g dirt, ice, etc.




Today is International Women’s Day and with the above theme, I felt it was the most appropriate time to feature the story of four highly successful professionals as related below:

Mairo,  Bodunrin, Nkiru and Adesua were invited by their primary school – Borogini Nursery and Primary School – to speak at a Seminar for the graduating class, entitled, “ACTUALISING YOUR DREAM”. One challenge they shared in common while climbing the ladder to success was GENDER BIAS in its varying forms. However, they were all able to overcome it by holding on to their dreams in spite of traditional beliefs about gender roles. Unfortunately, their mothers aligned with the bias, which made it more difficult for them to scale the divide, but they overcame through persistence.

Mairo, an aeronautical engineer, experienced bias early in life. She was the last of four children, and the only female.  Although she displayed a lot of promise early in life, her parents had already decided that her education would not proceed beyond primary six for three key reasons. First, they wanted to concentrate their limited resources in giving the boys a good education. Second, as a female, in order to encourage submission to her would be husband, she needed to be exposed to the barest minimum education and third, any investment in her education would be lost when she got married and changed her name. Both parents were in agreement on this. However, fortune knocked at the door and in Primary five, she won a Mission scholarship that saw her through secondary school where she also received sponsorship for her University Education in the U.S.A. She settled in the U.S.A and is married with a daughter and a son and her experience has taught her not to discriminate among her children but rather to encourage them in achieving their dreams.

Bodunrin on the other hand, the only male among the speakers is a world acclaimed Professional Chef, having served with the best hotels across the globe. He currently runs one of the best five star restaurants in Nigeria. He recalls that he had always had an interest in cooking and milling around the kitchen when his mother or any of their live-in aunties was in the kitchen. His mother would always shoo him away with a stern warning “Bodunrin, you are a boy. Cooking is for girls and in our custom a man has no business in the kitchen. There will always be a female to cook for you”. He eventually studied Nutrition and Dietetics but remained restless pursuing cooking as a hobby, until he underwent apprenticeship in culinary  arts to fulfil his dream. Today, he churns out some of the tastiest meals served in the country.

Nkiru on her part had the full support of her parents to study Medicine. Upon completion of her degree she decided to specialise as a Neurosurgeon. To her surprise, her programme Director who incidentally was a woman, came up with various arguments discouraging her from pursuing her dream and suggesting that women are best fitted for fields like Gynaecology and Obstetrics, Ophthalmology, Paediatrics and the like. She however braved the odds and was in a male dominated class. As the only female in her class both the faculty and the students made disparaging remarks to discourage her but she emerged the best graduating student in her class. The discrimination continued even when she practised the profession until she was able to successfully carry out a very difficult and delicate surgery. The respect for her ability has since grown in leaps and bounds.

Adesua, the last of the speakers is on the National Female Football Team and had this to say. She always loved to follow her brothers whenever they were playing football as children. Her mother would yell at her and often beat her when she came back all dirtied from the falls and with ripped clothes. It was always “Adesua, you won’t kill me! What will people say? You are not a boy o. Why can’t you be like your sister Esohe, she is the perfect lady, playing with her dolls and helping around the house”? Adesua ended up with the following statement, “Of course, today, she is proud of my career and success as a footballer but it was only achieved through persistence and hard work”.

So ladies, today affords us another opportunity to put our thinking caps on while admitting that gender equality is achievable. Let us say no to our traditional beliefs and biases about gender equality.