Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Super Wednesday- The Big Deals of my 2014

All too soon 2014 is almost ended and this may be my last blog post for the year. Its been a very wonderful year for me (one of my best years actually!). I thought I should do this blog post how my year went with some lessons as well, and since it's a Super Wednesday, its the best time to do this.

I have undoubtedly become a much better person than I was last year, though I have already shared on some of these areas, I shall go a bit more into detail as I promised.

Yibellla Journal
I'm sure you have already guessed I was going to talk about this first. (and why wouldn't I talk about it anyway? I love it!). Yibellla Journal is my baby and my blog ,yes here (in case you didn't know). I have kept this blog since 2013 and within this year, I have written more richer, interesting and informative content which wrought great and positive feedback.

Within 2014, I introduced three awesome segments here; Young Legends of Inspiration ,Super Wednesday  and the Science segment where I feature scientific articles I write for ghscientific. People found these very useful and have helped increased readership on this blog as well.  

I am extremely glad about this because I love blogging and it makes me happy that I have been able to improve greatly here.
I can proudly say the growth of this blog has inspired others to take on initiatives they are passionate about and guess what? They are doing great! With this I say, look for that thing that makes you tick, grow it and nurture it to it fullest and it will unbelievably bring to you some awesome things your way!

Winner of ''I know a Ghanaian star writing contest"

Winning this competition is one of the biggest achievements of my life so far. 
I knew this was for me the very moment I saw the ad. This is not to say it was an easy deal, far from that perhaps you should ask Ato Ulzen-Appiah and Francis Addai the wahala I went through to get this. I was able to make it through to the top 5 and finally won.

Winning this has made me an admiration in the eyes of others. I won't forget how awesomely I felt receiving congratulatory phone calls and messages from people who found this great. Within this period, I have had colleagues at school and other people approaching me to tell me how much I inspire them through what I do.

With writing as my passion, I am extremely glad I have been able to make this achievement in my writing journey. I hope to have more winnings in the coming year.
This task looked and proved herculean but through hardwork I was able to make the mark. With this I say work hard always because it definitely will pay!

Meeting the Legends

Wow! this brings goose pimples all over my body any time I remember it. Within 2014, I had this great idea through which this brainchild of mine was born. So I said to myself, why don't I bring down some amazing people I know and have featured on the Young Legends of Inspiration segment down to my school, Ghana Institute of Journalism to come share to my colleagues and other students on their various initiative and inspire them as well?
Then I put it action! With the help of a great team, this dream of mine became reality.  This event was set for a day that wasn't really favourably for students to attend and it amazed me how great the turn out was! Over 60 people for a start!

I had Ato Ulzen-AppiahNaa Oyoo Quartey and Gabriel Obodai Torgbor- Ashong come share with them. They were just so great with their deliveries, the audience were inspired and loved them! It was so good that some people came asking me how much I had to pay them for the excellent sessions they mentored them in. They thought it would be damn expensive! But I kept on smiling and telling them they did it for free because they believed in this initiative and also also due to the of the good relationships I have with them. More on this can be found here.

I am very grateful to them and to everyone who helped one way or the other to make this a success.
In this coming year make it a point to network, make great contacts for you may never know who that saviour might be!

The other cool things 
There have been great improvement in my reading habits, trust me I have read more than any other year! Insightful articles, great write-ups which has made me more knowledgeable!

I also became a paid freelancer this year! I began writing stem related articles for GhScientific which is means more learning, improved writing and more experience!

I also joined the Wikimedia Ghana User Group where we write and edit Ghanaian related content on Wikipedia. It has been a good learning experience working with Oral Ofori. That guy knows a lot!

Aside many of which I can't even remember I have met great minds like Ama Atta-AidooJemila AbdulaiManasseh Azure AwuniProf. Agyeman Badu Akosa, and a lot more which time will fail me to mention.

These were the big deals of my 2014, I hope to do more and strike great achievements in 2015. God be my helper!.
Do leave a comment, let me though what your thoughts are.

Friday, 12 December 2014


Autism (or Autism Spectrum Disorders) is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder that affects the way a person views and interacts with the world around him. It is a wide spectrum disorder that challenges a person’s communication and interactive skills, which means that no two people with autism will show the exact same combination and degree of symptoms. Some may have mild symptoms whereas others will present severe symptoms. Although the condition occurs in both sexes, it is about 5 times more common among boys (1 in 42 boys) than among girls (1 in 189 girls).
Like most conditions that affect brain and behaviour, there is not an exact cause of autism, however autism risk factors can be narrowed down to genetic and/or prenatal causes.
GENETIC FACTORS: Genetic factors may be the most significant cause for autism spectrum disorders. The genetics of autism are complex and more than one gene may be involved in different individuals. Furthermore the genes may interact with each other or with environmental factors with differenct consequences and this could be the reason why the disorder has a wide spectrum. Several candidate genes have been located within which mutations increase the risk of autism and the study of these mutations remains an active research area.
PRENATAL ENVIRONMENT: The risk of autism is also associated with several prenatal risk factors which occur during pregnancy or delivery. Advanced age in either parent may increase gene mutations that lead to autism, use of psychiatric drugs by the mother during pregnancy, bleeding and diabetes could all contribute to the child been born autistic. Autism has also been linked to birth defect agents acting during the first eight weeks from conception, though these cases are rare.
With such a broad spectrum, the Autistic symptoms can only be identified in a person by looking at the various areas of life where a child with autism may behave differently. Some of these areas include:
People who have autism are socially clumsy. They have difficulty with social interaction and usually prefer to be alone to the extent of been uninterested in other people at all. The person with ASD might give the impression that he is talking at people, rather than with or to them because they hardly make any eye contact. In addition, autistic individuals are very likely to miss the subtle social cues used in everyday society. They are not the “people-kind” and seem to be in their own world mostly sometimes struggling with the playing and talking skills we have come to accept as a norm.
An autistic child may also find it very hard to be aware of and understand the feelings of other people. Unlike most people, autistic individuals have a weaker ability to instinctively empathize with others. In spite of this, their ability to take other people’s feelings into account can improve tremendously if they are frequently reminded of this. Nonetheless, empathy does not come natural to most.
Routine is one thing an autistic individual can get comfortable with. Most love to go through doing the same things over and over again, for example drawing the same picture again and again, page after page or jumping from one end to another again and again.
Autistic children do not develop at a relatively harmonious rate. It is common to find that while cognitive skills may develop fast, language skills may trail behind or while language may develop rapidly, motor skills are lacking. Social skills of an autistic child will not develop at the same pace as other people.
The higher the severity of the autism, the more affected the person’s speaking skills. They will often repeat words they hear (echolalia) and this is one way they learn to engage effectively with the surrounding environment.
Some kids with ASD do not like to be cuddled or touched. Not all autistic kids are like this though; some will greatly appreciate a hug from a relative and may actually find more comfort in this than most other children will. In this case only a parent, carer or sibling will know best. One thing is for sure though, isolating an autistic child is never a good idea.
Some autistic children find loud noises unpleasant and quite shocking, the same can happen with some smells and sudden changes in light intensity. This level of sensitivity can be reduced by warning a child of  of what is to happen,  he or she can then cope with it better than when it happens out of the blue.

In Ghana having a child with autism is viewed by most as a curse on the family, or worse still in certain places the mother is labeled a witch which may cause mother and child to be shunned by certain quarters of society. A lack of education in this area means that many are not seeking the necessary help that they need; instead they are hiding these children at home, locking them up in their rooms. Many children in mainstream schools who have autism but can somewhat express themselves suffer discrimination and teasing from peers.
The Autism Awareness Care and Training centre [AACT] Accra seeks to fill in this much needed gap in education and service provision. The centre was set up by Mrs. Serwah Quaynor about 15 years ago when she returned to Ghana from the USA after her son had been diagnosed with autism at age 2. At her return, searching for autism services for her child proved difficult, thus she began autism awareness in Ghana.
“Nortey, my son, was sixteen years old with raging hormones, many challenging behaviors, ranging from self-injurious behaviours, aggression and insomnia, to mention a few. Sleep at night was a luxury (I was lucky if I got two (2) hours). What was I to do in a country where there were no services for children with autism? I felt like an outcast, dejected, alone, and petrified!” Mrs. Quaynor explains. Since then, through fifteen years of service, it has assisted hundreds of children and their families.  The centre provides many services and encourages inclusion into mainstream education and society. AACT’s training focuses on behavior management (which is the core of the entire training programme), functional academics, music and art therapy, speech and occupational therapy and life skills training.  Resources to train these children simply aren’t available here in Ghana, however, the centre is fortunate to receive speech/language and occupational therapy resources from international volunteers. They use local materials like the dry seed othe flamboyant tree as music shakers and Djembes drums for drumming to teach music and dance.
The centre has been successful in spite of challenges such as unavailability and insufficient resources. They currently work with close to forty autistic people, ranging from preschoolers to young adults (Find out more about the centre here).
  • Routines are easier to work with so establish them early and change them rarely.
  • In the first moment you want to teach a new behavior you must use consistency and continuity or you will fail.
  • Isolating an autistic child is never a good idea and only enforces their condition.
  • Praise positive behaviour no matter how minute
  • Involve them visually and physically, the more animated and fun the better
  • Most of all be patient and know that there are other parents out there who could help you with any and all challenges
With all this been said, there are many historical figures who are believed to have had varying degrees of Autism and have also been extremely gifted and talented. These include Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart [Composer], Sir Isaac Newton [Physicist], Albert Einstein[ Scientist], Michelangelo [Artist, Architect, Engineer, and Donna Williams [artist, sculptor, composer and screenwriter]