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Mabel commented on Special Place One place, one voice, our own.....

Thank you Ashley for your questions. Our website is under construction and will be up soon at: www.specialplace.com.ng

We have been working on this idea for a while, you can check our story at: https://africanentrepreneurshipaward.com/equal-education-for-every-nigerian-child/

The initial model was to run a developmental screening program through schools that easily identifies children with a delay/disability that would require special educational services for prompt referrals. However, in working with schools (about 10 schools in Lagos), it was difficult to get parents to consent and commit to a routine annual developmental screening of their child, the schools couldn't afford the additional cost and as such we had to review our approach.

Information gathering from clinical practice with over a 100 families that have been referred based on confirmed diagnosis reveal that, while over 80% of these parents suspect a delay in their child's development, intervention was usually not initiated early due to a lack of information about what services were available and how to access those services. This information, plus information gathering through participation in community discussions in online parenting sites revealed 3 key factors that birthed our current model:

1. Parents who already have questions about their child's development and are concerned are willing to pay for a quick screen that will confirm or dis-confirm their fears as against parents having to commit to routine annual checks.

2. Most parents for the fear of stigmatization would rather have a therapist come home to work with their child at the initial phase of discovery than take their child to a specialist school or center for intervention.

3. For parents with an established diagnosis and service plan, there is often the need for an independent and unbiased source of information as to what services best meets their child's need at each phase of transition.

Special place is designed to meet these immediate and already existing needs as against our initial model of creating an annual screening program for all children within the 0 -5 years range.

With regards to the screening tools we intend to work with, we have been able to successfully use the Ages & stages tool and the M-chat in effectively identifying children with a developmental delay or Autism as is the case for the M-chat in Nigeria over the course of our individual practices. Right now we are working at standardizing these tools using established channels for routine immunization at primary healthcare centers in Lagos metropolis to gauge its effectiveness when parents have to self-administer without the guidance of a highly qualified professional. This process should be completed by May 2017.

Also we plan a beta launch of our online platform in June, 2017. We plan to leverage on the platform of the Guarantee Trust Bank (Nigeria) orange ribbon initiative, through its annual autism conference. We are working at tidying up all loose ends in design and content so we can present our model to families and service providers who will have the opportunity for free sign ups on our online portal.

I hope I have answered your questions and look forward to receiving more ideas on how we can further fine tune our model. Thank you.