Education

There are many programs and therapies aimed at helping with education and improving quality of life. Some facilities use only one, while others combine them.

Before choosing a programme or therapy, it depends on the level of assistance and what level of education will be needed. When an diagnoses is made a child can be placed into 3 Levels of Autism. These levels refer to Low Assistance (Level 1), Moderate Assistance (level 2) and High Assistance (Level 3).

All the above-mentioned programmes were developed out of ABA, but as new techniques in teaching develop, new programmes are formed. Why is ABA so popular? It is considered the programme with the most evidence-based results.

A word of caution: There are a lot of Autistic adults that absolutely HATE ABA and feel it is a form of child abuse.

However, to get the most out of therapy, more than one option can be considered. When we started to think about therapy, it became very clear that it is not a one size fits all strategy. You will eventually mix and match till you get something that fits your child. 

The programme you choose will also depend on which way you decide to go regarding formal education – State or Private (including Homeschooling); and some programmes can be age restrictive as well.

We looked at many centres and eventually went with a company that offered AIMSAwareness, Interest, Movement System: It is an awareness and interest-based intervention that works with autistic children and related disorders to teach concepts, rather than individual skills.

Most of these are therapies that is offered at private facilities

Therapies

Therapies are general things like Speech, Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy. Many of the programmes mentioned previously also include Speech, OT and physiotherapy.

Formal Education

If you decided to go via State and are already on the school placement list, there are a few creche/ Daycare/ Early intervention centres that assist Autistic children. This you will realise can cause a lot of frustration especially if you are a working parent. There are far more private facilities and home cottage centres, but you are going to pay a lot of money for that- click here. Currently, a team from Vera School or Glenbridge Special School runs the assessments for placements for the Department of Education. Depending on the area you stay in, your child might be placed in any of the schools on this list: Special Needs schools(i)

In a recent (21 May 2024) webinar held by the Western Cape Department of Education on the process of placement, whether or not you child has a diagnoses, it is important to enroll your child at the closest full service or public school. All schools has processes in place that will identify learners that might need a little more extra support – individual support plan (ISP). The plan gets modify as the needs changes and if still more support is needed it will be referred to the Department for further investigation.

This is not the same for private facilities as they have their own procedures and policies.

Crossing over between private and governement schools are very difficult.

While special needs schools might have an OT and Speech Therapist on staff, it does not mean your child might have individual access to them, more often it will be in a group setting. Again it depends on the level of assistance needed. So this means that if your child needs those services they will not be able to get it at the local clinic, you will being paying out of pocket for those services.

Sadly, society does not expect much from people on the Spectrum, they either see them as having mental difficulties or they see them as these super geniuses. Most special needs schools and centres provide basic education – how to read, how to write and very basic maths.

Our son is currently in his sixth year at a special needs school, but before that he was in a home tutoring programme and a private centre.

Here are some of the programmes and centres we looked at:

We started with KidStart and KidStart Plus tutors at the KidStart Early Intervention Centre (sadly they are not operating anymore) using AIMS. For a short glimps into a lesson – click here.

Some of the other programmes are:

Gemiini Education System * – They do video modelling. –

Special Needs Adapted Program (SNAP) * – SNAP Lite (Parent and Care Giver training), SNAP Education Home Programs and SNAP Academy have their own specialised programs.

Broad Horizons Academy uses Makaton, Rapid Prompt Method (RPM) * , Alternative Augmentative Communication (AAC), Relationship Development Intervention (RDI), Modelling and PECS. Sadly this centre is not running anymore, but the have a home-based and facilitator program running as Uniqminds * .

AutismSpectrumAdaptiveProgram (ASAP, now Evolve) * – They run various programmes.

MindStretch * – Offers HANDLE

Sense-Ability * – They offer various therapies

Centre 4 Play and Learning * – They offer various therapies

LeftNet * (learner facilitator and tutor network) – Willie Erasmus runs this database and can provide you with a list of tutors and facilitators that are fully trained and qualified to create the best program for your child’s needs. LeftNet also runs facilitator courses. They partner with CHAMPS * (GROWING CHAMPS Facilitator, Tutor & Au Pair Group).

Chere Botha School * – School for Down’s Syndrome and Autism.

Paarl Skool (Brackenfell) * – for children with normal or high intelligence but with genetic or physical disablities.

Pokkelmander Learning Centre * – email: eloise@pokkelmander.com – Stellenberg area, Brackenfell. The offers CAPS and Cambridge curriculum.

Dorothea Special School * – The are a school for SID (severely Intellectual Disabled) children in Stellenbosch.

Homeschooling

Thinking of actually homeschooling your child, it would be wise to join a homeschooling group, also you will need to decide whether you will use CAPS(i) or Impaq(i) (Home Schoolers and private centres choice).

  • Homeschooling SA (Facebook)(i) and website(i)
  • Homeschooling Special Needs in South Africa(i)
  • Western Cape Education Department online resources (Grade R – 12)(i)
  • Department of Education (National Government)(i)

For any disputes regarding homeschooling, it is important to join the Pestalozzi Trust(i).

To read the current homeschooling policy, click here