Autistic and Special needs teachers in South Africa
The Star Academy in South Africa is the most successful international affiliate of the Centre for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD) in the United States. The Star Academy has centre-based clinics across South Africa namely Johannesburg, Pretoria and Durban. In addition to providing centre-based ABA intervention, The Star Academy clinics also provide home, school and community based instruction as well as training for teachers and aides in the classroom environment.
For some of our children, the goal is to get them into mainstream education. Mainstream schooling is a natural environment, rich in opportunities for generalization, social interaction and observational learning from typical peers. This system increases the need for openness to inclusion and decreases the need for autistic and special needs teachers in South Africa. Autism is a complex developmental disability, but the experts at The Star Academy bring with them the skills and expertise needed to integrate children into mainstream environments. The Star Academy facilitator helps the child develop and generalise skills in the areas of communication, cognitive ability, social behaviour, motor skills, sensory regulation, and others, in order for the teachers and peers to be able to access and integrate the child with autism just as they would any other child.
Autistic and special needs teachers in South Africa are often under-supported and under-resourced. The Star Academy brings skills, knowledge, support, and relief to mainstream teachers and autistic and special needs teachers in South Africa alike.
The Star Academy has its own academic curriculum, filled with modifications found to be helpful in research and through decades of experience. This is used in conjunction with the government curriculum outlining the academic skills a child must acquire each year.
The school environment is rich in opportunities for socialisation and interaction. Many of our children start in a one-on-one setting, then progress to small-group social settings such as extra-curriculars or playdates, and finally are ready to integrate into the complex social environment of school. Autistic and special needs teachers in South Africa could benefit hugely from being given insight into the thousands of skills that can be directly and systematically taught to help the learners they work with socialise with their peers.
Other Necessary Skills:
Issues that we find autistic and special needs teachers in South Africa frequently struggle with include, but are not limited to:
- Behaviour – The Star Academy draws up individualised Behaviour Intervention Plans (BIPs) for each child, because our children have idiosyncratic needs and do not benefit nearly as much from a one-size-fits-all approach to behaviour.
- Adaptive difficulties – The Star Academy teaches all necessary adaptive skills, from independent toileting to remembering to take medication at the allotted times and everything in between.
- Communication difficulties – The Star Academy’s broad curriculum and extensive experience caters for everyone from those who are non-vocal to those who need work on the semantic level of speech and everything in between.
Patience is one of the biggest key skills required in an autistic teacher. Special needs teachers needs posses a caring nature while teaching the students with autism. They need to have good observing skills and learning the behavioural patterns of children with autism. In addition, they need to have good communication skills that help in interacting with the parents. Autistic and Special needs teachers in South Africa need to address the needs and requirements of children with autism with skilful attention. Special needs teachers should maintain a comfortable classroom environment. They should be efficient in using visuals to support teaching methodologies. Special needs teachers should have knowledge about using transition methods that help the autism students to move from one subject to another.