Mental health is a subject that still carries a huge stigma in today’s social climate especially in this part of the world. This can be attributed to a significant lack of awareness coupled with the fact that mental health patients in Nigeria hardly have access to active support systems.
Enter Toks Bakare, a UK-trained Behaviour Analyst with over a decade of experience in the field of Developmental Psychology. Toks founded Asktoks.com with the mission to tackle the stigma associated with mental health by providing Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA) services specifically to children with special needs and Autism Spectrum Disorders.
Changing Life Path For Uncharted Territory
Toks’ understanding of the state of kids with special needs in Nigeria came when she paid a visit to the country and discovered there were hardly any centres and schools meeting the requirements of such kids. She found that this led to them being neglected and often misdiagnosed. Equipped with knowledge in this field, Toks resolved to change the status quo. She resigned from her job in the UK, relocated to Nigeria in 2014 and began soliciting advice from various Nigerian organisations in her bid to introduce Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA) services to the mental health sector and improve the quality of specialist education services in Nigeria. Today, her endeavours have given rise to Asktoks.com, a platform for parents of children with Autism or related disorders to seek professional help anonymously.
What Asktoks.com Offers
Asktoks.com is currently one of the few social entreprises of its kind catering to the needs of children with neurodevelopmental disorders. Its services include behaviour treatment, training of specialised therapists, and disseminating information on neurodevelopmental disorders and other mental health issues. They work with primary caregivers including parents, nannies, teachers, and therapists to design Applied Behaviour Analyst (ABA) programmes that will suit their kids accordingly. Their mode of service involves an initial assessment of children based on their cognitive skills, motor skills, emotional intelligence, and social skills. Treatment plans are then developed and caregivers and therapists are required to work with children to follow through with these treatments.
Asktoks is also focused on conducting practical training sessions for parents and teachers to better equip them to deal with the challenges children face. In order to achieve this, they have implemented training workshops across several states in Nigerian including Imo State, Lagos State, and the Federal Capital Territory. They run certification programs for mid-level workers through the International Board of Continuing and Credentialing Education Standards (IBCCES). These programs are designed for professionals who specialise in neurodevelopmental disorders. In addition to this, Asktoks has launched an International Skills Transfer Program for professionals abroad who want to relocate to Nigeria and apply their knowledge in the assessment and management of children with complex neurodevelopmental disorders.
Achievements and Milestones
Since its inception, Asktoks has been changing the lives of children with neurodevelopmental disorders. The platform has recorded dramatic improvements in these children after they have undergone treatment interventions based on the principles of Applied Behaviour Analysis. This impact has also been felt by parents who would never have imagined how much the trajectory of their children’s lives could change before treatment.
Trainees such as parents, teachers, nannies, and therapists are often grateful for finally acquiring the skills to communicate effectively with these children.
Featured image source: askToks.com