The available facilities are privately run and average Ugandans may not afford or cannot handle children with severe disabilities like autism, cerebral palsy, mental illness and attention disorders.
According to Sara Sammans, an Administrator at the Dawn Special Children Centre, these children often need physio and occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, special needs education, special aids and other resources that can help them cope with the disabilities.
Sammans explains that if the children get therapy at an early age, they could easily overcome the neurological challenge and attend school normally.
She also notes that there is lack of readily available support and information to parents on how to give their children quality care at an early age, which in turn increases severity of the children’s condition.
Ronald Ruhima, a Youth and Children Officer at the National Union Disabled People in Uganda (NUDIPU), is concerned that in some communities’ parents still look at Children with Disabilities (CWD’s) as bad omen, bad luck, punishment or a curse for the sins that they must have committed.
Ruhima notes that the negative attitudes have contributed to fewer CWD’s starting school at an early age. He says where they have been taken to schools, parents hand over the responsibility of the proper care of their children to schools.
Sometimes these schools are unable to do more than deliver basic education to the children because they are overcrowded and teachers are too few to manage the high enrolment numbers.
Speaking to Redpepper on the status of CWD’s, Ruhima said there is need to create more early age centres for CWD’s because when children miss out on early age and proper nutrition their cognitive development is highly undermined.
In 2010 the Government drafted a policy on early childhood development, with concrete guidelines to protect children, uphold their rights and guarantee them a good future.
The legislation forms a basis on children’s affairs and informs government programs in childhood health and education.