In the last 40 years, the prevalence of Cerebral Palsy has risen to well above 2.0 per 1000 live births. In this time span the proportion of low-birth weight infants rose, the proportion of diplegia decreased while the proportion of hemiplegia increased. 1A CDC study shows that the average prevalence of CP is 3.3 per 1,000 8-year children or 1 in 303 children with the most common cause of motor disability in childhood is from select communities that include Alabama, Georgia, Missouri and Wisconsin. 2 The prevalence as reported health practitioners in Nigeria states that “the overall prevalence has remained unchanged since the early part of the 20th century in most Pediatric Neurology clinics in developing countries with ranges between 10 and 40 percent in children under 16 years of age. 3 Several studies in Nigeria focus on children from age 8 and above. What happens to the neonates up to age 5 in the Nigerian setting? The general African perception of people with disabilities especially those born with special needs are very different from people in other parts of the word. Their perception is superstitious and deep rooted in witchcraft or spiritism. In Nigeria it is traditionally believed that if a child born with a disability she/he will bring a curse on the whole family or village.
Many children with disabilities such as down-syndrome, caustic ingestion, developmental delays, cerebral palsy, and other deformities in some communities are left by their families to die before age 5. This happens deep in the bush as as in the highly populated cities. These babies often require early medical intervention and even if they are not left to die, most parents do not understand what type of care is needed and are unable to provide the necessary care.
One area that has not been given the pride of place in Nigeria’s educational system is special needs children under which the CPs is also classified. These children are because of their unique features and endowment cannot be adequately and satisfactorily catered for in the regular classroom. Few special needs children are those children who cannot benefit maximally from the regular classroom teaching/learning experiences on account of physical, mental, emotional and other sundry disabilities which may or may not be easily identified. Therefore, children with special needs are special needs children who need to be given special attention in the classroom, the society or at home.