The history of Boland School for Autism

According to Autism South Africa, about 1 in 68 South African children are affected by autism – and growing. In a recent study, it was estimated that every hour a child with autism is born in South Africa (www.autismsouthafrica.org.za). These children often need special care and education to cater for their needs. However, in 2009 there were only two existing Autism-specific schools in the Western Cape, both of which had long waiting lists of over 100 children.

 

Therefore, in September 2009, a few parents and professionals from Paarl got together and saw the need to open a school for autism in the Boland area to cater for the autism community surrounding Paarl and Stellenbosch. With lots of support and donations from the Paarl community, and guidance from Above, we opened our doors on 18 January 2010 at the Drakenstein Dutch Reformed Church. We started with 4 children and two tutors.

 

Vera School for learners with autism sent their outreach team for the first term to train and guide the tutors to deliver quality services on an individualised level. The school developed an Individualised Educational and Development Programme (IEDP) for every child for curriculum delivery, recording and reporting. An IEDP approach to learning allows the child who would normally struggle in a mainstream classroom access to specialised education and facilities optimized for the needs and special abilities of the individual learner.

 

By June 2010 we raised enough money to appoint a qualified teacher, who could also act as our principal. During February 2011 another teacher was appointed and later an assistant. This allowed the school to enrol more learners and our dedicated staff have stayed with the school for 2011. At present there are three qualified teachers with degrees in educational psychology, an educational psychologist, bio-kineticist, 2 speech therapists, one occupational therapist,  two teachers and one class assistant. Currently there are 25 enrolled children – 21 boys and 4 girls from ages 3 up to 18 years old.

 

Achievements

  • The executive mayor of Drakenstein presented the school with a Mayoral award for service to the community in 2011
  • Boland School for Autism registered as an Act 18A Non-profit organisation at the beginning of 2011 with registration number 089-279-NPO