Last updated on Feb 26th, 2021 at 02:26 pm

Autism is a complex developmental disorder that affects a child’s brain functions making it difficult for him to communicate and interact with others. Autism is more prevalent than juvenile diabetes, paediatric cancer and childhood HIV/AIDS combined. According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in every 88 children is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder in the US. There are currently no accurate statistics on Autism in SA, but the condition is acknowledged as the fastest growing serious developmental disability in the world.

Treating Autism
While there’s currently no cure for Autism, treatments such as Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA), where children can be assisted to develop basic skills like looking, listening and imitating others, as well as complex skills like reading, conversing and taking the perspective of others can help children improve dramatically from Autism, if not fully recover, believes Ilana Gerschlowitz, Director of The Star Academy, a centre that provides specific tailor-made education programmes to assist children with Autism. “If children with Autism receive intensive and expert educational and medical intervention, many can lead a normal life or at the very least develop skills to become functional and independent members of society,” she adds.

Click here to read more about the symptoms of Autism.

Did you know?
Autism is also four times more common in boys than girls.

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Educating children with Autism
Currently in SA, there aren’t many facilities available to educate children with Autism, with waiting lists ever growing. The Star Academy and The Dream Tree School for Children with Autism are two of only a handful of facilities for children with Autism in SA.

The Star Academy

The Star Academy has branches in Johannesburg, Pretoria and Durban, and provides education programmes based on the principles of Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) to children who present with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and any other related disorder.
Each child’s programme is individually tailored to address their specific delays and / or challenges.
Click here for more information about the Star Academy.

The Dream Tree School for Children with Autism
The Dream Tree School for Children with Autism is located on the campus of Somerset College in Somerset West in the Western Cape. It’s an independent non-profit school that serves children from the community who have been diagnosed with ASD or related development disorders.
Click here  for more information about The Dream Tree School.

2 April is World Autism Awareness Day. Do your bit and spread the word by drawing attention to the symptoms and possible solutions to the condition!

Has your child been diagnosed with Autism? Tell us your story. Simply email Xanet@caxton.co.za and let us know where you’ve been offered help and support.