Living with an autistic teenager and raising him in a shack

Photo- Tariro Washinyira

GroundUp spoke to a mother of three who lives in an informal settlement raising a child with special needs.

Monica Mpokotshela, a mom of three living in Sophia Town informal settlement near Kuils River is raising an autistic teenager in a shack. She shared her challenges recently with GroundUp.

Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD), better known as autism, is a disorder that affects the neurological development of those affected. It mostly affects three skills: social, behavioural, and communication.

The small space they live in makes it extremely challenging for them to take care of 12-year-old Bonelisa Mpokotshela, and him being out of school makes it even worse. They have been on a waitlist for school for some time now.

“It is very difficult to live with an out-of-school autistic teenager in a small wet shack without electricity and water,” says Monica.

Monica is unemployed and has been living in this informal settlement for 10 years.

Also Read: Living with an autistic child

Children with autism become easily irritated and tend to scream a lot, and Monica’s neighbours, who don’t understand his condition, complain about the noise. He has also gone missing once, and now Monica needs to keep her eyes on him at all times.

This is why she feels attending a centre would be helpful, as she also needs to tend to her other children.

Ground Up contacted the department of social development and was advised by the spokesperson Esther Lewis that she needs to go to the nearest office to receive assistance with housing and a daycare centre for people with disabilities.

If Monica does not receive help soon, she will be forced to move back home in the Eastern Cape as there is family there than can assist her.

This article first appeared on GroundUp.

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