Awareness of autism amongst primary school teachers in Yenagoa city, Bayelsa State
Background: Autism is a chronic neuro-developmental disorder and teachers of pupils with autism require a basic understanding of the disorder.
Objective: To determine the awareness of autism amongst primary school teachers and to find out pupils with symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder in Primary schools in Yenagoa.
Materials and methods: A crosssectional study was carried out among primary school teachers in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State. Cluster sampling technique was used to recruit 18 primary(9 public, 9 private) schools. A selfadministered pre tested questionnaire was used to collect data from one hundred teachers in these schools. Data were analysed using descriptive statistics and presented in tables.
Results: A total of 100 teachers, consisting of 30 (30%) males and 70 (70%) females were studied. The response rate was 92.6%. Sixty six percent of the teachers have heard of the word autism, 34.8% heard it by social interaction while 27.3% heard it through the media. Of those who have heard the word autism, 18.2% said it was a psychiatric disorder. Fifty seven pupils (M: F ratio 3.75:1) had symptoms of autism spectrum disorder, a prevalence of 9.0%. Only 50% of the teachers perceived the pupils problem as a neuro-developmental disability. About seventy eight percent of these children with autistic trait
shad poor academic performance while 19.4% were good in calculations.
Conclusion: Autism spectrum disorders do exist among primary school pupils in Yenagoa. The level of teachers’ awareness is low and this requires training and retraining of teachers to enable them cope with the needs of these children.