At the last count, there are almost 312 programmes including complementary therapies and therapeutic equipment. Some schools use only one while others combined them.
How do you choose?
So far the Programme that has produced the most evidence-based results is ABA, however, to get the most out of therapy, more than one option can be considered. A survey was done among parents shows that the majority does ABA, PECS, RDI, PRT and complementary therapy like music therapy, swimming or horse therapy.
Most of these programmes all had their origins in ABA, new programmes were created as new ideas about teaching special needs people were formed.
Some of the Centres I looked at used these programmes:
- AIMS Awareness, Interest, Movement System – It is an awareness and interest-based intervention that works with children with autism and related disorders to teach concepts, rather than individual skills.
- PECS The Picture Exchange Communication System is a form of augmentative and alternative communication. PECS is designed to teach functional communication skills with an initial focus on spontaneous communication.
- RDI Relationship Developmental Intervention is based on the belief that the development of dynamic intelligence is the key to improving the quality of life for individuals with autism.
- ABA Applied Behaviour Analysis – The theory identifies various teaching techniques that generally involve breaking down complex skills (or behaviours) into smaller steps and teaching them through the use of clear instructions, rewards and repetition.
A word of caution: ABA is very strict. There are a lot of Autistic adults that absolutely hates ABA and feel it is a form of child abuse.
- VB Verbal Behavior Therapy teaches communication using the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis. By design, Verbal Behavior Therapy motivates a child, adolescent or adult to learn language by connecting words with their purposes.
- PRT Pivotal Response Training is based on the principles of Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA). It focuses on four key or ‘pivotal’ areas of a child’s development, which helps the child develop more complex skills and behaviours (such as social and communication skills).
- TEACCH Treatment and Education of Autistic and related Communication-handicapped Children, is a ‘whole-of-life intervention. The approach looks at the skills and strengths a person already has, and aims to build on these skills to promote development.
- DIR Floortime The DIR®/Floortime™ Model is also known as the Developmental, Individual Difference, Relationship-Based Model. It focuses on promoting development by encouraging children to interact with parents and others through play.
- SCERTS Social communication (SC), emotional regulation (ER) and transactional support (TS), combines several techniques to create an individualised program for a child with autism. The SCERTS® model concentrates on three key areas: social communication – developing relationships and communication skills emotional regulation – reducing emotional ups and downs transactional support – providing helpful aids to communication and learning.
- HANDLE Holistic Approach to NeuroDevelopment and Learning Efficiency combines an understanding of Neuroplasticity and the interplay among mind, body and environment to help the brain gently change itself.
- Brain GYM Committed to the principle that moving with intention leads to optimal learning. Brain Gym is a series of quick, fun and energising activities used in a balance to make all types of learning in life easier and eliminate barriers.
- PROMPT Prompts for Restructuring Oral Muscular Phonetic Targets. The technique is a tactile-kinesthetic approach that uses touch cues to a patient’s articulators (jaw, tongue, lips) to manually guide them through a targeted word, phrase or sentence.
- Social Stories™ are highly structured interventions that use stories to explain social situations to children with autism. They also help children learn socially appropriate behaviour and responses.
- RMT Rhythmic Movement Training is a movement-based, primitive (infant or neo-natal) reflex integration program that uses developmental movements, gentle isometric pressure and self-awareness to rebuild the foundations necessary to help overcome learning, sensory, emotional and behavioural challenges.
- Tomatis® is a type of sound therapy. It aims to improve listening and communication skills. The person uses headphones to listen to electronically modiﬁed music as well as other sounds, such as a mother’s voice. It’s also supposed to help with balance and coordination difficulties and to help people manage depression and anxiety.
Looking for the right school/ programme for your child is difficult and it depends on their age and skill set/ Developmental age as well. Most of these programs only run until a certain age, all the while you wait for the Department of Education to place your child at a school that will support their needs. A team from Vera 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.
There are many private centres and home cottage centres, that is not on the Department’s list, their rate might differ and they might only go to a certain age.
The Private and Government schools/centres and programmes we looked at:
- We started at KidStart and Kidstart Plus tutors at the KidStart Early Intervention Centre (sadly they don’t seem to be operating anymore) uses AIMS .
- GemIIni Education System They do video modelling.
- SNAP (Special Needs Adapted Program) – SNAP Lite (Parent and Care Giver training), SNAP Education Home Programs and SNAP Academy have their own specialised programs.
- Broad Horizons Academy uses Makaton, RPM, Alternative Augmentative Communication, RDI, Modelling and PECS. (sadly this centre is not running anymore). Their home-based and facilitator programs are run by Uniqminds
- Braintrain 100 caters for a wide range of Neurological conditions, Learning disabilities and Movement Disorders.
- ASAP (AutismSpectrumAdaptivePrograme), they offer the Alphabet soup in therapies.
- MindStretch uses HANDLE
- Sense-Ability also uses a mixture of therapies.
- Centre 4 Play and Learning also uses various techniques.
- LeftNet (learner facilitator and tutor network)- Willie Erasmus runs this database can provide you with a list of tutors and facilitator 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).
Marina Grobler ADD/ADHA Therapeutic Approach uses Tomatis, qEEG and Neurotherapy. (She has recently moved to Namibia)
- Chere Botha School for Autism and Down’s Syndrome
- Paarl Skool for special needs children
- Pokkelmander – Reading and Learning Centre
- Dorothea Special school
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 (Government choice) or Impaq (Home Schoolers and private centres choice).
The groups are:
- Homeschooling SA (Facebook) and website
- Homeschooling Special Needs in South Africa
- Western Cape Education Department online resources (Grade R – 12)
- Department of Education (National Government)
And for legal and protection against Government, it is important to join the Pestalozzi Trust.
Before we started with the therapy, we used the programs: Starfall and Starfall Download Centre, Coilbook™/Learning for Children on Youtube, Toddler Fun Learning on Youtube, ELF Kids Videos on Youtube, Caillou for Social Stories and DLTK’s Crafts for Kids, Kids go Flash.
Many people find Caillou annoying, but he struggled with many things young kids struggled with.
- Video Modelling: The video shows someone doing a skill or behaviour. The child watching the video copies the skill or behaviour.