Maddie was put into a pre-primary school but was suspended from school within a week. The teachers simply didn’t know how to handle a special needs child like her.
Somewhere along the way and the home-schooling journey Ilse and Noel decided that Maddie was too alone. They then made a plan and started a little 8-kid school. They settled the children 2 at a time over 2 days before taking in the next batch of 2. Then more parents heard about the school and they opened their doors for more children and expanded to 2 properties eventually.
Maddie is now 13. She doesn’t verbally communicate – but has tools to help her communicate. She can interact with strangers. She has some life skills.
Amazing K is a little different from my own kids’ pre-primary school (or playschool if you prefer). The curriculum is different, but the same. Instead of third-party extracurriculars everything is done by the staff at Amazing K. The kids have to learn to be social – and that is an autism thing. Outside group play and group activities is a big thing.
Since I started working with Amazing K I have done research and read every article written by Ilse from Amazing K. I realised in all of this that:
- There are too few autism schools
- There are no primary or high schools or further learning available to autistic children; there are however some schools that take in high functioning autists or kids with Asberger’s that are fully verbal but struggle with social skills (and I’m mentioning Asperger’s here because I know someone like this)
- If autistic children can get the 1-on-1 stimulation they need they can improve their social abilities
- Autistic children are not all the same and have different abilities/strengths
- Employment opportunities for young autistic adults…
I’m in no way an expert on autism or know how hard it is to have an autistic child – but I listen.
- I have learnt that divorce rates are higher for parents with autistic children;
- Parents across South Africa and even in big cities just have to resort to home-schooling because there simply aren’t autism schools around and mainstream schools just aren’t equipped;
- In some communities autistic children are thought to be bewitched and cast out; There isn’t a word in most of these languages for autism;
- Autistic kids can use a special communicator that records x number of actions/wants/needs but these devices are more expensive than a tablet you would buy;
- A change in routine could cause a meltdown and that loadshedding is just another obstacle;
- That we should start caring and learning about autism, because 1 in 50 children worldwide have autism;
So here I am, just a mom realising that I should maybe not judge the parent who has a kid that has a major meltdown and that maybe I should #stopstaringstartcaring because it might just be a parent with an autistic child.
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