Autism treatment South Africa

Autism treatment in South Africa is finally making the strides it needs to make. Ilana Gerschlowitz, Managing Director at The Star Academy, travelled internationally searching for the best treatment, not only for her own son but for the many other families who had come to see her as a pioneer in the South African context. These families relied on Ilana as a rare gem who told them that all hope was not lost in a world full of closed doors. Now, a decade on, Ilana has changed the face of autism treatment in South Africa. Ilana has brought Applied Behaviour Analysis at a credentialed, certified, gold-standard level to us. Recognising that autism was in fact a treatable, medical condition, Ilana is also in the process of making biomedical intervention more readily and affordably available to South African families by aligning brilliant local doctors with international doctors experienced in biomedical intervention.

What families need to know when seeking autism treatment in South Africa is that:

  • Autism is treatable
  • Recovery is possible for some individuals on the autism spectrum
  • Biomedical treatment allows an individual to respond more quickly to behavioural intervention
  • Behavioural intervention helps an individual catch up the developmental delays found in autism
  • A good Applied Behaviour Analysis programme is:
    • Intensive
    • Comprehensive
    • Closely monitored
    • Tailor-made
    • Inclusive of training of significant others in the child’s life

Autism treatment South Africa: At the time of writing this article, The Star Academy had opened its doors in eight centres countrywide – four in Johannesburg, two in Pretoria, one in Durban and one in Douglasdale. Perpetually called to help families in need, Ilana also ensured provision of remote services in locations such as Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Ghana, Rustenburg, Mauritius and even London. Ilana’s reputation spreads far and wide and she regularly holds calls with families from all over Africa and the world.

Autism treatment South Africa: What autism treatment in South Africa needs now, is government support and medical aid funding, so that families can more easily access the intensity of intervention they need for best outcomes. While The Star Academy does everything in its power to give access to intervention and power in the form of knowledge to as many families as possible, it is difficult to ensure that every child receives the treatment they need and deserve in today’s financial climate. In the United States, Applied Behaviour Analysis is recognised as a medical necessity for children on the autism spectrum, and is widely funded by medical aids. These medical aids recognise that the more resources are pooled into early intervention, the less need there will be for intervention over an individual’s lifespan.

The Star Academy is growing quickly and trying to keep up with the increase in need for its services, driven by the exponential increase in the prevalence rates of autism.


Autism treatment in South Africa

If you look and search the internet for autism treatment in South Africa you will find many different options. Each one of the treatment options has explanations on how each treatment should be used and the level of intensity required for possible recovery. According to health24 autism is treatable by means of synergetic or multi-disciplinary, child specific approach. Autism specific therapies include Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA), Relationship Development Intervention, Floor time (DIR), TEACCH, Son-Rise and Relationship Developmental Intervention. There are also Rehabilitation programmes available in South Africa. To name a few these include Occupational Therapy and Sensory integration therapy, and Speech therapy. With all this said it is very important to use a child specific approach and to address child specific deficits.

For the sake of this article we will have a look at Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) as an autism treatment in South Africa, because it is far and away the most well-researched and empirically-supported method for autism treatment. What is Applied Behaviour Analysis? It is a research based treatment. In this treatment each Child’s programme is designed to meet the needs of the child as an individual. It is mostly one on one therapy which focus on language, play, adaptive skills, social, executive functioning, motor, and cognitive skills. Under each category ABA aims to equip the child with tools and skills that will promote independence whether the child fully recovers or not. The recommended age to start this treatment is four years with the intensity of forty hours per week. Research shows that children who began at this age and with this intensity made more significant changes that those who did not receive this treatment at all. However with all this said it is never too late for the child to start the ABA programme. Should your child not make full recovery ABA treatment will equip them with skills that will teach them to be independent by breaking down complex tasks into smaller simpler steps.

So how does ABA teach and promote independence? One word REINFORCEMENT. So Applied behaviour analysis therapy promotes independence by teaching the child adaptive skills such as teeth care, feeding themselves as well as preparing their own meal, toilet training, as well as to clean up after themselves. How do we teach these very complex activities? This treatment breaks down complex activities and to smaller steps. While teaching these steps the therapist or instructor will reinforce the child by giving them access to a preferred item or activity every time they give their best to achieve a step. The child then learns that when they give their best they get access to their desired item or activity which then motivates them to do their best and in the process learning and achieving the target in acquisition.



Please visit The Star Academy for your comprehensive solution to autism treatment in South Africa.

Autism schools are becoming more prevalent in South Africa and often cater not only to individuals on the Autism spectrum but also to those who face other learning challenges. Placing a child with Autism into a schooling environment can be very stressful and should always be considered from all perspectives. When you search “autism schools near me”, rest assured the team at The Star Academy is willing and able to help make transitions into new environments as easy as possible. It is important that a comprehensive assessment is always completed before transitioning a child into a schooling environment and that it is within their skill set to achieve success and continue to grow as an individual.

Autism schools near me: The Star Academy has good working relationships with many schools in and around Pretoria and Johannesburg. It is through these relationships that we are able to place some of our children, who meet the requirement, into school with facilitation to ensure that they achieve success. The Star Academy believes in developing children holistically and to their maximum potential. Although the traditional schooling system works for some it is not a guaranteed fit for all. For those whose paths do not converge with the traditional schooling paradigm The Star Academy caters for with equal enthusiasm and support.

Autism schools near me using ABA: The Star Academy works from a comprehensive Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA) approach. We believe in scientific data to make informed decisions and to track progress with precision. We also implement an extensive Skills Curriculum that is in alignment with CARD USA. This curriculum is ample and covers all domains crucial for development such as language skills, social skills and even academic targets. Although one could argue that ABA does not necessarily entail academic teaching in the purest and most traditional form, we at The Star Academy are adept to teaching our children academic skills. We focus on skills such as numeracy, letter, word and number recognition, maths symbols and even mental manipulation of maths concepts.

Having scientific data and an extensive skills curriculum to rely on ensures that we are also able to target other areas that our children may struggle with. This ensures that we build a solid foundation, from the ground up, for skills that require more critical thinking as well as future skills we would like to one day develop in our children’s skills set. These decisions are all based on data that supervisors observe and consider. This allows them to make informed decisions that can help parents decide what is the best future path for their children will be, be that traditional schooling or an alternative version of learning, parents will make informed decisions supported by data and a team of professionals dedicated to helping each and every child.

“If they can’t learn the way we teach, we teach the way they learn” – Dr O Ivar Lovaas

You may be thinking how does one start to analyse the child with autism at home, community and at school? Something which may seem daunting and a huge task.

The Star Academy prides itself on using an evidence-based treatment to reverse autism one child at a time, that being Applied Behaviour Analysis therapy (ABA). ABA is based on the premise that if behaviour is followed by a desirable consequence that behaviour will occur more often in the future, where as if such behaviour were to be followed by an undesirable consequence, then the behaviour will occur less often in the future. It is this premise that allows ABA to be an effective form of intervention for skill repertoire building and behaviour management.

So how does The Star Academy go about analysing skill deficits and behaviour management…

The Star Academy analyses skill deficits in terms of the 8 domains of human functioning, namely academic, adaptive, cognition, executive functions, language, motor, play and social domains, thus encompassing skills that fall into each area of your child’s life – home, community and school. Each domain contains a set of specific skills a child should have as well as to what extent each of those skills a child should obtain at a specific age level. Using this as the basis for skill analysis, your child’s Supervisor and allocated team will then probe various skills in each domain to determine your child’s strengths and weaknesses and based on this your child’s Supervisor will then create a tailor-made ABA program that will include lesson aimed at helping your child improve their specific skill deficits. As your child continues to progress, their team as advised by their Supervisor, will continue to build on those initial skill deficits in order to ensure your child strengthens those skills and all aspects of those skills, as well as probe new skills to continuously ensure your child is learning and growing in their skill acquisition.

In addition to skill repertoire building, The Star Academy uses ABA to also analyses a child’s problem behaviour. This is done by first identifying the function of the problem behaviour, the reason for the behaviour occurring. ABA classifies problem behaviour into four categories namely, attention-maintained behaviour, behaviour maintained by getting access to tangible items, escape maintained behaviour and automatic behaviour. In order to determine which function is attributed to which behaviour your child is engaging in, information will be garnered by means of indirect observations (interviews with the child’s caregivers and questionnaires) and direct observations (data obtained from the child’s team of instructors during the first few one-on-one sessions) – in order to obtain a comprehensive overview of your child’s behaviour in all areas of their life home, community and school. In addition to determining the function of the behaviour, the child’s Supervisor will also take into account medical considerations, the severity, intensity and frequency of the behaviour as well as the child’s skill repertoire. Once this data has been received, the child’s Supervisor will then create an individualised behaviour intervention plan, to help put measures in place to appropriately manage and reduce problem behaviour.

Thus, the saying “If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism,” stands true and as such, each child at The Star Academy receives a tailor-made ABA program aimed at increasing their specific deficits, deficits that occur within the 8 domains of human functioning encompassing all areas of the child’s life – home, community and school, as well as managing and reducing their excess behaviour, behaviour the child engages in as way to communicate their needs or get their needs met.

Like all children, a child with autism is still a busy body and as such interacts in many different domains on a day to day basis such as their home, community and school. It is for this reason why The Star Academy incorporates all areas of a child’s life -home, community and school, when analysing skill deficits and problem behaviour, in order to ensure optimal opportunities to increase skill deficits and reduce problem behaviour across all environments.

The Star Academy can analyse the child with autism at home, community and at school in the following ways:


We collect data from the child’s home environment by observing the child’s relationship with their family, caregivers and pets, in order to obtain a comprehensive understanding of their skills, deficits and behaviour. We conduct one-on-one home session to generalise skills learnt during our one-on-one therapy at the Star Academy centre to the home environment, as well as to help teach necessary home skills that a child might be struggling with. We also conduct parent trainings, so that we can educate all involved about ABA, to ensure consistency across the child’s different environments as well as to guarantee optimal chances for the child to receive ABA treatment.


Dependent on the case, The Star Academy works with a multidisciplinary team, incorporating feedback from Teachers, Speech Pathologist, Occupational Therapists, Psychologists and Optometrists, working on skills they feel the child needs improvement on by incorporating it in the child’s individualised ABA program. We also assist children with activities within their community such as swimming and horse riding, as well as teaching and increasing skills needed for community involvement, such as getting a job.


The Star Academy also provides school facilitation programmes, where we aim to create a specific education plan for the child, one that will assist the child in all areas within a school setting. A trained Star Academy instructor accompanies the child to school with the aim of assisting the child where necessary and eventually allowing the child to become an independent learner in the classroom.
Overall, using an evidence-based form of treatment (ABA), The Star Academy is able to successfully analyse the child with Autism at home, community and at school, ultimately teaching each child the way they learn.

– Chad Edery


Die Star Academy bied outisme-skole in Suid-Afrika aan kinders op die outisme spektrum.

“As jy een individu met outisme ontmoet het, het jy nog net een individu met outisme ontmoet”
– Dr Ivar Lovaas

Ons span van opgeleide Raad Gesertifiseerde Outisme Tegnici en Raad Gesertifiseerde Gedragsanaliste ontwerp elke kind se Onafhanklike Onderwys Plan (IEP) gebaseer op die ‘Skills’ kurrikulum ontwerp deur ons VSA affiliaat CARD. ‘Skills’ is ‘n ontwikkelingsmaatstaf wat ons help om elke kind in die volgende domeine te assesseer:

  • Taal
  • Sosiaal
  • Lewensvaardighede
  • Kognisie
  • Spel
  • Motoriese vaardighede
  • Akademie
  • Uitvoerende funksie vaardighede

Daar is honderde vaardighede in elke domein wat ‘n kind benodig om volgens hul ouderdom te funksioneer. Geen twee kinders sal presies dieselfde vaardigheidstekorte in die bogenoemde domeine hê nie en dis daarom dat die Outismeskool van die Star Academy die perfekte oplossing bied – ‘n Individuele IEP om elke kind se spesifieke vaardigheidstekorte aan te spreek.


Outisme Suid-Afrika, aan die toeneem – Outisme neem toe wêreldwyd. Outisme in Suid-Afrika neem teen ‘n vinnige tempo toe. Die Sentrum vir Siektebeheer (CDC) in die VSA het onlangs hul jongste statistieke vrygestel wat daarop dui dat elke 1 uit 59 kinders in die VSA gebore word met ‘n outisme-diagnose. Ons het nie ‘n sentrum in Suid-Afrika wat hierdie statistieke weergee nie, daarom is akkurate plaaslike syfers vir Outisme Suid-Afrika nie beskikbaar nie. Maar outisme in Suid-Afrika neem min of meer toe met soortgelyke toenames soos in die VSA en ander lande regoor die wêreld.

Probleme om Outisme te diagnoseer in Suid-Afrika – Baie dokters het ‘n lae bewustheid van outisme en daarom vrees en vermy hulle die diagnose. Daar is ook ‘n verouderde neiging om dit net ‘n neurologiese afwyking te noem, en om hierdie kinders as vertraag te verklaar, wanneer ons weet dit ‘n behandelbare biomediese versteuring is.

Tekort aan Outisme-skole in Suid-Afrika – Met net nege spesifiek-aangepaste skole in die hele land, kry ‘n geskatte 135 000 kinders met outisme nie die gespesialiseerde opleiding wat hulle benodig nie.

Beide biochemiese en onderrigintervensies word benodig vir effektiewe behandeling –

Biochemies is dit belangrik om die oorsaak van Outisme te behandel, en nie net die simptome aan te spreek nie. Dit is belangrik om die derm en immuunstelsel te behandel en die inflammatoriese siklus te breek. Dit is ook belangrik om die liggaam se ontgiftingsstelsel te ondersteun en om die gifstowwe uit hul liggame te verwyder. ‘n Mens moet ook vir virusse behandel en probeer om die weefsels te genees.

Daar is ‘n wanopvatting, selfs onder diegene in die Outisme gemeenskap, dat mens of biomediese behandeling of ABA-terapie doen. Jy wil albei doen. Jy moet die hindernisse medies verwyder en terselfdertyd ook die kinders selfhelpvaardighede leer. Hulle moet die vlak bereik wat hul eweknieë natuurlik bereik het. Outisme blyk om ‘n omgewingsiekte te wees met ‘n genetiese komponent, en dit is ‘n komplekse metaboliese siekte, nie net ‘n ontwikkelingsgestremdheid nie. Outisme behels veelvoudige liggaamsisteme wat interaksie met mekaar insluit. Outisme is behandelbaar en vroeë intervensie is krities.

By die Star Academy Outisme skole in Suid-Afrika word die onderrigmetodologie wat ons gebruik, ABA genoem. Toegepaste Gedragsanalise. ABA het vyf dekades van navorsing ter ondersteuning van ‘n effektiewe metodologie vir kinders met outisme en die ou “aspergers” -diagnose. ABA is operante kondisionering en gebruik positiewe versterking om kinders die vaardighede wat hulle ontwyk, te leer. Dis bewys dat ABA ń effektiewe outisme-behandeling internasionaal asook vir outisme in Suid-Afrika is.

Diagnose van outisme in Suid-Afrika:

Wat beteken dit werklik om ‘n Outisme diagnose te hê? Outisme beteken eenvoudig dat die kind agter is met sy ontwikkeling. Ons instrukteurs by die Star Academy Outisme skool in Suid-Afrika is Raad Gesertifiseerde Outisme Tegnici en is geregistreer by die BICC, die Gedragsintervensiesertifiseringsraad, wat in die VSA gebasseer is en wat ABA wêreldwyd reguleer.
Ons opgeleide span van Outisme tegnici is kundiges in die ontwikkeling van kinders. Dis om hierdie rede dat ons ‘n kurrikulum vir elke kind suksesvol kan ontwerp. Daarbenewens gebruik ons ook ‘n holistiese ontwikkelingskurrikulum, die ‘Skills’ -ontwikkelingskurrikulum vir Outisme spektrumversteuring.

Individuele behandeling:

Elke kind sal ‘n sakebestuurder toegewys word wat die vaardigheidsontwikkelingskurrikulum gebruik om hul geïndividualiseerde onderwysplan (IEP) in te stel. Een ding wat ons vir seker weet, is dat geen kind met outisme presies dieselfde vaardigheidstekorte het nie. Daarom is dit belangrik om vir elke ń geïndividualiseerde IEP te ontwerp om hul spesifieke vaardigheidstekorte in te haal.

Assessering by Outisme-skole in Suid-Afrika:

Wanneer ons ‘n kind met outisme of aspergers by die Star Academy Outisme skole in Suid-Afrika assesseer, kyk ons na agt ontwikkelingsgebiede. Dit sluit in:

• Taal
• Sosiaal
• Lewensvaardighede
• Kognisie
• Spel
• Motoriese vaardighede
• Akademie
• Uitvoerende funksie vaardighede

Hierdie gebiede is onderling verwant en as ‘n kind vaardigheidstekorte in een area het, sal dit lei tot tekorte in ander gebiede. Dit is dus belangrik om seker te maak dat ons noukeurig assesseer en bepaal watter vaardighede die kind met outisme of aspergers nie het nie, sodat ons ‘n program kan ontwerp om hulle op te vang.

ABA-metode vir behandeling by Outisme-skole in Suid-Afrika:

ABA sluit gedragsverandering in. Baie kinders met outisme sal onvanpaste gedrag vertoon en die enigste manier om hierdie gedrag te verlaag, is om op vaardigheidsverkryging te fokus. Elke kind sal ook ‘n gedragsintervensieplan ontvang wat daarop gemik is om die spesifieke kind aan te spreek met die vaardigheidstekorte van outisme.

Volgens dr Ivar Lovaas – “As jy een kind met outisme gesien het, het jy SLEGS een kind met outisme gesien.” Dit is om hierdie rede dat ons nooit kinders met outisme of aspergers saamgroepeer nie, maar eerder ‘n IEP vir elke kind by die Star Academy in Suid-Afrika ontwerp.

Ons fasiliteer kinders by hoofstroomskole wat voorvereistes vir skoolvaardighede het. Sodra ons hul taalvaardighede opgevang het, kan ons fokus op sosiale doelwitte wat hulle sal help om sosiaal suksesvol te wees. Kinders met Outisme benodig ‘n stewige stel taalvaardighede voordat hulle sosiaal suksesvol kan wees of met die klaskameromgewing kan byhou.

Toegepaste Gedragsanalise, oftewel Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) is ‘n hedendaagse wonderwerk. Ongelukkig is ABA taboe in sommige outisme gemeenskappe. Daar is menigte redes hiervoor, wat later in die artikel verklaar sal word. Vir eers wil ek egter simpatiseer met ouers, professionele persone en volwassenes wat met outisme leef, wat deur ander aanbeveel is om ABA te vermy in die behandeling van outisme.

As professionele instrukteur met 8 jaar ondervinding in die veld van outisme, kan ek getuig dat daar ‘n besliste verskil is in die kwaliteit van ABA programme van een diensverskaffer tot ‘n ander. Uit eie ervaring kan ek vele stories vertel van hoe lewens van kinders met outisme verander en verryk word, en dus die lewens van hul gesinne deur die gebruik van kwaliteit ABA as behandeling- en onderrig middel.

Die pad tot kwaliteit behandeling is vir vele families ’n lang, soms hartbrekende een, totdat hulle uiteindelik ‘n goeie gehalte ABA-program vind. Die doel van hierdie artikel is om ouers in te lig dat “goeie” ABA bestaan. Bewustheid van goeie ABA programme en diens leweraars is van uiterste belang – elke dag wat ’n kind op die spektrum sonder intervensie gaan, raak hulle verder agter en die gaping raak al groter

“Ons kinders het nie tyd om te mors nie” – by die Star Academy, neem ons hierdie
stelling baie ernstig op.

Om die kenmerke van goeie ABA te herken, moet ons kyk hoe outisme gedefinieer word, wat ABA is en sowel as die mees algemene wanopvattings oor ABA.

Definisie van outisme:

Outisme of Outisme Spektrum versteuring (ASD) word gedefinieer as uitdagings met betrekking tot sosiale kommunikasie en sosiale interaksie. Dit sluit in tekorte in sosiaal-emosionele wederkerigheid, tekorte in nie-verbale kommunikasie en n tekort in die ontwikkeling, instandhouding en begrip van verhoudings. Dit sluit ook beperkte, herhalende patrone van gedrag en belange in.

Outisme-kenmerke kom gewoonlik gedurende die eerste drie jaar van ‘n kind se lewe voor. Sommige kinders met outisme bereik nie die ontwikkelings mylpale in vergelyking met tipies ontwikkelende kinders nie, waar ander wel die mylpale haal, net om vaardighede soos spraak, oogkontak, ens. te verloor. Dit staan algemeen bekend as regressiewe outisme.

Die DSM-5 gee ‘n omvattende definisie van wat outisme is. Die definiëring van outisme is egter nie genoeg om ‘n behandelingsplan te ontwikkel nie. Outisme is ‘n komplekse spektrum versteuring – elke persoon met outisme het unieke sterk punte en uitdagings. Outisme wissel in omvang van aansienlike ondersteuning wat benodig word om funksioneel op te tree in die alledaagse lewe, tot sommige beperkinge tot ‘n andersins ‘normale’ lewe.

Verder behels ‘n outisme diagnose soveel meer as wat ons in die verlede van bewus was. Dit sluit nou in wat voorheen bekend was as Asperger sindroom, ‘n deurdringende ontwikkelingsversteuring en kinderlike-disintegrasieversteuring. Daarmee gepaard is daar menigte ko-morbide afwykings waarmee ‘n kind op die outisme spektrum ook gediagnoseer kan word, soos; ‘n ‘Fragile’ X-sindroom, Epilepsie, Sensoriese Disintegrasieversteuring, Downsindroom en aandag afleibaarheid- en hiperaktiwiteit versteuring, om net ‘n handvol te noem. Sommige kinders met outisme het ook gastro-intestinale versteurings.

Dit beklemtoon die kompleksiteit van die outisme spektrum en herinner my aan een van my gunsteling stellings: “Sodra jy een persoon met outisme ontmoet het, het jy net een persoon met outisme ontmoet.” Dit kan nie meer waar wees nie. As jy na die behandeling van outisme kyk, moet hierdie stelling te alle tye in gedagte gehou word. As ons die definiëring van outisme en die moontlike ko-morbiede afwykings wat elke kind met outisme mag he in ag neem, is dit duidelik dat ‘n geïndividualiseerde behandelingsplan die enigste weg vorentoe is.

ń Dieper kyk na ABA

ABA is die toepassing van gedragsbeginsels op kwessies wat sosiaal belangrik is om praktiese verandering teweeg te bring. Die beginsels van gedrag verklaar dat ‘n wenslike gevolg van ‘n gedrag die toekomstige frekwensie van die gedrag sal verhoog, terwyl ‘n ongewenste gevolg die toekomstige frekwensie van daardie gedrag sal verminder.

In meer vereenvoudigde terme, beteken dit dat as ons gedrag (dit is enigiets wat ons doen of sê) versterk of ‘reinforce’ (iets goed gee), hierdie gedrag meer dikwels sal voorkom; as ons nie ‘n gedrag versterk of ‘reinforce’ nie, sal die gedrag minder gereeld voorkom of stop.
Hierdie beginsel geld beide in die navorsings konteks sowels as in ons alledaagse lewe. Kom ons kyk na ‘n voorbeeld hiervan in die alledaagse lewe: As jy op die snelweg jaag, maar nooit gevang word nie, is die kans dat jy hierdie gedrag sal herhaal redelik groot. As jy op ‘n dag afgetrek en beboet word, sal jy die volgende dag twee keer dink voor jy in daardie gebied jaag. As jy ‘n tweede keer op dieselfde plek oorgetrek word, sal jy waarskynlik elke keer by daardie plek by die spoedgrens bly. Dit bring my tot my volgende punt: hoe meer konsekwent die gevolg van ‘n gedrag, hoe sterker is die verandering in daardie gedrag.

In ABA gebruik ons hierdie beginsels om eerstens, op die vaardighede van die kind met outisme (vaardigheidsontwikkeling) te bou en uit te brei en tweedens enige uitdagende / onvanpaste gedrag wat ‘n kind met outisme vertoon, te verminder (gedragsbestuur).


Die Star Academy se kurrikulum bestaan uit 8 domeine: Taal domein, ‘Adaptive’ domein, Speel domein, Sosiale domein, Kognisie domein, Uitvoerende Funksies domein en Akademiese domein. By die Star Academy word die kind as geheel geassesseer om sy of haar sterktes en tekortkominge te bepaal, in elk van die voorgenoemde ontwikkelings areas. Dit lei die Star Academy ‘supervisor’ in die ontwerp van ‘n geïndividualiseerde program wat spesifiek voorsiening maak vir daardie kind se behoeftes.

Gedrags beheer

Die oorgrote meerderheid kinders met outisme sukkel om hul behoeftes te kommunikeer on ‘n sosiaal aanvaarbare wyse. Probleem gedrag vind dikwels sy oorsrong in hierdie kommunikasie-gaping. By die Star Academy analiseer die instrukteurs hierdie gedrag om die funksie van die gedrag te bepaal – wat probeer die kind met hierdie gedrag kommunikeer? Sodra die funksie bepaal word, word ‘n meer toepaslike / sosiaal aanvaarbare manier om hierdie behoefte / begeerte te kommunikeer, vir die kind aangeleer. Hierdie leer proses behels dat die onvanpaste gedrag nie meer lei na dit wat die kind probeer kommunikeer nie, en die vervanging van die probleem gedrag met ‘n nuwe gedrag wat konsekwent lei tot dit wat die kind wil he.

Algemene voorbeelde van hierdie proses in die praktyk:

John wil ‘n peuselhappie hê (voorloper) – Hy tantrum (die gedrag) – Hy kry die peuselhappie (die gevolg). Dus sal die toekomstige frekwensie van tantrum gedrag toeneem namate hy leer dat hy ‘n peuselhappie kry wanneer hy tantrum.

John wil ‘n peuselhappie hê (voorloper) – Hy tantrum (die gedrag) – Hy kry nie ‘n peuselhappie nie (die gevolg). Dus sal die toekomstige frekwensie van tantrum gedrag afneem, aangesien hy leer dat hy nie ‘n peuselhappie kry nie as hy tantrum.

John wil ‘n peuselhappie hê (voorloper) – Hy vra vir ‘n peuselhappie (die gedrag) – Hy kry die peuselhappie (die gevolg). Dus sal die toekomstige frekwensie van toepaslike kommunikasie toeneem namate hy leer dat hy ‘n peuselhappie kry wanneer hy toepaslik vra.

Hierdie is slegs ‘n vereenvoudigde verduideliking van hoe ABA gebruik kan word om ‘n kind se kommunikasie vaardighede te verbreed en hul probleem gedrag te verminder. ABA is meer kompleks as wat in hierdie artikel uitgedruk kan word. Dinge om in gedagte te hou wanneer jy die voorbeelde lees;

  • Kinders met outisme maak gebruik van onvanpaste gedrag om baie behoeftes / begeertes / emosies ens. te kommunikeer. Sommige funksies van die gedrag is maklik om te bepaal terwyl ander funksies van gedrag meer kompleks kan wees. Die tipe analise wat gedoen word om te bepaal hoekom die gedrag plaasvind, kan wissel op grond van die gedrag.
  • Sommige kinders word geleer om hul behoeftes te kommunikeer deur middel van spraak, ander word geleer om dit te doen deur alternatiewe kommunikasie strategieë te gebruik.
  • Die gepaste gedrag om hierdie behoefte / begeerte te kommunikeer, word geleer deur die gedrag aan te spoor en dan die aansporings sistematies te verminder totdat die kind onafhanklik kan kommunikeer.
  • Teen hierdie tyd kan mens dink dat dit onrealisties is om elke geval van toepaslike kommunikasie te versterk deur die kind te gee wat hy / sy aangevra het. Jy is absoluut reg! Strategieë om dit aan te spreek word by die program ingebou. Sodra ‘n kind sy / haar behoeftes / begeertes suksesvol kan kommunikeer, word die versterkingskedule stelselmatig verminder.

Hierdie is net ‘n paar van die vele waardes wat ‘n ABA-program goed maak! Hierdie strategieë en metodes wat binne die program gebruik word, rus ‘n kind met outisme toe om die beste lewe te leef wat hy / sy kan lewe.

Daar is niemand met ‘n groter, meer stresvolle, meer uitdagende taak om die pad vorentoe te beplan as ouers wat pas by die wêreld van outisme aangesluit het nie. Die eerste stap, en die mees natuurlikste stap wat ouers neem, is ‘n soektog op die internet vir ondersteuning en advies te loods. Ons sluit by gemeenskappe aan en leer uit ander se ervarings. In vandag se lewe, met die stygende syfers in outisme diagnose, is daar talle aanlynondersteuningsgroepe, artikels wat inlig bied oor besluite wat geneem moet word, die behandelingsopsies, ens. Dit is magies in die manier waarop dit ouers verbind met ander wat hul stryd verstaan. In hierdie moeilike, deurlopende stryd teen outisme maak ‘n ondersteunings netwerk die pad na ‘n ‘beter’ lewe ‘n bietjie makliker. Al hierdie (soms kontrasterende) inligting kan egter oorweldigend wees en lei tot meer spanning en angs. Nie almal stem saam met die pad vorentoe nie.

Ek sien dikwels hoeveel ouers die ABA-waters toets, bang om te begin, maar so desperaat is om hul kind te ondersteun in die stryd teen outisme. Alhoewel dit nooit te laat is nie, is vroeë ingryping noodsaaklik. Om hierdie rede is dit noodsaaklik om die woord van “goeie” ABA te versprei en sommige wanopvattings op te klaar:

1. ABA is eksperimenteel in die behandeling van outisme

Hierdie stelling kan nie verder van die waarheid wees nie. ABA is ‘n empiries-gebaseerde wetenskap met meer navorsing om sy doeltreffendheid te ondersteun as enige ander terapie wat vir kinders met outisme gebruik word. Wetenskaplike, eweknie-geëvalueerde studies oor die praktyk en effekte van ABA word al vir meer as 30 jaar uitgevoer. Data-insameling is ‘n belangrike aspek van ABA en dien as bewyse van die individu se vordering oor tyd.

2. Outisme word behandel deur die gebruik van straf

Straf leer ‘n kind om nie van ‘n spesifieke gedrag gebruik te maak in die teenwoordigheid van die straf stimuli nie. Dit leer nie die kind hoe om die meer toepaslike gedrag as ‘n vervanging nie te gebruik nie. Ware ABA word gekenmerk deur die gebruik van positiewe versterkings prosedures. Geen aanstootlike stimuli word in die onderrigproses gebruik nie. Een van die hoofdoelwitte van ABA is om onvanpaste gedrag met gepaste gedrag te vervang. Dit kan nie deur die gebruik van straf gedoen word nie.

3. Die gebruik van ABA as ‘n behandeling vir outisme veroorsaak dat kinders soos robotte optree

Wanneer ABA op die regte wyse geïmplementeer word, is dit onmoontlik! ABA het baie verskillende onderrigstrategieë waarvan gebruik gemaak word om kinders met outisme te leer. Sommige is meer gestruktureerd, terwyl ander die vorm van speelaktiwiteite aanneem. Een van hierdie strategieë word ‘Discrete Trial Training’ (DTT) genoem. Hierdie instruksie tegniek behels gereelde herhaling van die geteikende vaardighede. Dit is ook ‘n baie gestruktureerde manier van onderrig. Vir sommige kinders op die outisme spektrum kan dit nodig wees om ‘n meer gestruktureerde onderrigtegniek te gebruik om die grondwerk te lê vir bemeestering van bogenoemde vaardighede. Alhoewel sommige onderrigtegnieke meer gestruktureerd is, sluit ‘n toepaslik-ontwerpte program strategieë in om die ontwikkeling van “klein robotte” te voorkom.

Die meeste kinders met outisme leer nie soos hul vriende op skool nie. Dit is dus vir ons ‘n manier om hulle te onderrig. In ABA doen ons presies dit. As dit lei tot die ontwikkeling van “robotte”, is dit beslis nie die toepassing van goeie ABA nie.

4. ABA is slegs vir kinders met outisme

ABA is baie effektief in die behandeling van outisme, maar dit stop nie daar nie. Adolessente en volwassenes kan ook baie baat vind by ABA. Daarbenewens kan ABA gebruik word in die behandeling van ander versteurings soos ADHD en Down Sindroom.

5. ABA is ‘n tegniek wat gebruik word om diere op te lei

Soos vroeër genoem, is ABA gegrond op die beginsels van gedrag. Hierdie beginsels word gebruik om nuwe vaardighede te onderrig en om probleemgedrag te onder beheer te bring. Dit is waar dat sommige mense dit in die opleiding van diere gebruik. Die gebruik van ABA is egter nie beperk tot een spesifieke veld van gedrag nie, en ook nie die sukses daarvan nie.

6. ABA gebruik eetgoed in die onderrigproses wat kinders met outisme afhanklik maak van eetgoed

Die waarde van versterkings in die onderrigproses kan nie genoeg beklemtoon word nie. Wanneer ‘n kind gemotiveer is om te leer, kan die bou van suksesvolle vaardighede en gedrags beheer gewaarborg word. Afhangende van die kind, word eetgoed en drinkgoed die meeste gebruik as versterkers om motivering te verseker. Daarbenewens sluit ‘n effektiewe ABA-program altyd strategieë in om dit oor tyd te verminder. Dus is die gebruik van eetbare / tasbare versterkers soms algemeen in die aanvanklike stadiums van die program, maar deur middel van ‘pairing’ en gedetailleerde beplanning vir die toekoms word kinders geleer om versterkings in hul natuurlike omgewing te vind.

Hierdie is net ‘n paar van die wanopvattings wat bestaan oor ABA.

Onthou die volgende belangrike feite wanneer u wanopvattings waarneem wat in die pad kan staan van effektiewe behandeling van outisme:

  • ABA is ‘n effektiewe behandelingsplan vir kinders met outisme en verwante afwykings. Dit kan gerugsteun word deur jare van wetenskaplike navorsing.
  • Die doel van ABA is om op ‘n kind se vaardighede te bou en toepaslike maniere van kommunikasie te leer, met die doel om kinders met outisme in die gemeenskap te sosialiseer. Dit beoog ook om diegene met outisme met die nodige lewensvaardighede toe te rus om produktiewe en aktiewe lede van die samelewing te wees.
  • ABA poog om diegene met outisme te bevry deur hulle ‘n manier te gee om te kommunikeer en die vermoë te gee om te leer. Daarom moet toegang tot “goeie” ABA ‘n basiese mensereg wees.

Does your child have speech and behavioural therapy needs at the creche or preschool level? The good news is that you have caught this at a good age. Copious amounts of research and conventional wisdom supports the idea that early intervention produces the best outcomes.
The Star Academy caters for your child’s speech and behavioural therapy needs at the creche or preschool level, but also caters for older children and adolescents. Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) is a research-based method of intervention for children with speech and behaviour difficulties, amongst many other difficulties.

Early identification and intervention can get two out of three pre-schoolers with autism improve communication skills and their grasp of spoken language. Also important to note is that speech can be learnt, and in the case of autism, special care needs to go into how it is taught to children in order to maximise results. There are various techniques which are involved in teaching speech, and these include:

  • Focus on nonverbal communication. Gestures and eye contact can build a foundation for language. Encourage your child by modelling and responding these behaviours.
  • Create opportunities for your child to communicate. Instead of guessing, inferring or predicting what they want, hold it out to them and have them give what you know is their best attempt at communication, then reward them by giving them the item they desire.
  • Encourage play and social interaction. Children learn through play, and that includes learning language. Interactive play provides enjoyable opportunities for you and your child to communicate. Try a variety of games to find those your child enjoys.
  • Consider assistive devices and visual supports. Assistive technologies and visual supports can do more than take the place of speech. They can foster its development. Examples include devices and apps with pictures that your child touches to produce words. On a simpler level, visual supports can include pictures and groups of pictures that your child can use to indicate requests and thoughts.
  • Simplify your language. Doing so helps your child follow what you’re saying. It also makes it easier for her to imitate your speech. If your child is nonverbal, try speaking mostly in single words. (If he’s playing with a doll, say “baby” or “doll.”). Break instructions down into single steps. For example, instead of saying “Go to your room and get your socks”, say “Go to your room”, walk behind your child to his room, and once there say “Get your socks”.
  • Talk to your Star Academy case supervisor about the level of communication you should be giving your child the most opportunities to practice, e.g. echoing sounds or words, making requests, commenting, asking questions, or answering questions.
    These methods, practiced with consistency have proven to be effective in child speech and behavioural therapy.

In today’s society there are no mainstream schools that cater for all the needs of all individuals on the autism spectrum. While there is more acceptance and there is more awareness, there are still no schools that open their doors unreservedly to individuals with autism. Over time as awareness and acceptance of autism has increased, and while more individuals present with autism and families desperately seek for aid and special schools for autism there has been an increase of privately owned special schools for autism. Some better than others of course as some will be just a care facility that caters to “look after” the child with autism during the course of the day, while others strive to use the best techniques to make it a special school for autism. The Star Academy has really found the recipe to comprehensive autism treatment – a whole-child and whole-family solution. The Star Academy does not quite classify itself as a special school for autism but rather an intervention centre which provides an international standard of intervention for children and adolescents on the autism spectrum. What is really needed is for our government to recognise and mandate funding from medical aid for autism treatment the way it is recognised and mandated for in the United States, where The Star Academy’s treatment method, Applied Behaviour Analysis, was created and developed. The Star Academy take each individual with autism as a unique case. They do not generalize the same teachings to all instead they cater for the special needs of each individual and design their own programme to follow with a set of very skilled instructors to give each individual with autism theirs own “special school”. Autism is a spectrum disorder and because each individual presents differently, each individual must be provided with a tailor-made intervention plan. For those children who are ready to benefit from a school environment, The Star Academy also offers instructors who can facilitate a child in a mainstream or remedial school. What this means is that if the child with autism that attends this special school has the correct prerequisites to be in a mainstream school such as compliance, following instructions, being able to communicate, etc. The Star Academy will with the permission of the accepting school start to integrate that child from the special school for autism into the school setting with the aid of a facilitator by their side. The Star Academy also thinks outside of the microcosms of the school and centre environment, and offers parent training, home sessions, community outings, facilitation on playdates, and facilitation in extracurricular settings such as karate classes or soccer classes. Parents can rest assured that their children are in good hands with The Star Academy’s Board Certified Behaviour Analysts and Board Certified Autism Technicians on staff.

What’s the biggest topic for parents today? Autism! Why you may ask is this a topic so well known to parents nowadays when it was something we almost never heard about when we were growing up? Autism has been around for many years, but in recent years it has taken on the label of an “epidemic” due to the exponential increase in incidence rate. Thankfully, along with the increase in incidence, has come an increase in awareness, and more and more families are accessing the treatment their children need. That is important to know – that with the correct intervention at the correct time, recovery from autism is possible, and with the correct intervention at any time, improvement of the symptoms of autism is possible. With this being said parents are now aware that children with autism need schooling facilities specific to their needs. It may come as a surprise that there are not many schools for children with autism. Why, you may ask, are there not many schools for children with autism? Well that is the question – why aren’t there more school for children with autism??? With the rise of awareness and prevalence of autism, one would think there would be a rise in school facilities for children with autism.

However in South Africa this is not the case. Autism Spectrum disorder has only recently been given more thought and coverage as compared to 15 years back. As previously stated autism has been around for many years in South Africa, hence there are places for children with autism can go to. However, the vast majority of these facilities aren’t specific to children with autism. These facilities cater to a variety of special needs children, autistic children being one of them. That being said these facilities have been a major help to the autistic community, giving the needed help in fighting the battle of autism. But is this enough? Should special needs facility be the only option for children with autism? The answer is NO! This should not be the only option available to children with autism, especially because every child with autism is different, and has their own unique set of strengths and difficulties. There should be more options, and of recent years there have been a growing number of autistic based facilities available, care facilities, and provide therapy based facilities. However this is still not enough.

Thankfully, The Star Academy provides a recipe for success – skilled and certified staff, a comprehensive curriculum, ongoing supervision of every case, and the capacity to provide services not only locally but in neighbouring cities and even abroad! So, if you are looking for schools for children with autism, please visit our head office or contact us to arrange a remote interview so that we can explain more to you about this incredibly effective intervention centre.

Schools for Autistic child – different options, why ABA and what to look out for

When typing ‘schools for Autistic child’ into Google, countless links pop up to a vast variety of different schools for autistic children offering an assorted range of therapies and services. This can only add to the pressure parents face when trying to choose a school that would best suit their child’s needs. There are definitely more therapies out there than there are hours in the week and money in the bank to try them all out.
Speech therapy, Occupational therapy, Physical therapy, and social skills therapy are just a few of those most commonly offered by schools for autistic children. Many schools for autistic child also offer cognitive-, play-, art- or music therapy.

However, Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) is the only intervention that is considered an evidence-based best practice treatment by the US Surgeon General and by the American Psychological Association. “Evidence based” means that ABA has underwent rigorous scientific tests proving its usefulness, quality and efficacy. ABA therapy can include a wide variety of different techniques. That is why it is important to first do thorough research before deciding on a school for autistic children, to ensure that their child receives the best ABA.
When looking for ABA schools for autistic children one must consider the following:

  • Staffing: When investigating providers or centres, we strongly encourage you to see if they have a Board Certified Behaviour Analyst on staff, ask questions about the credentials of the staff that are working there and with your child.
  • Safety: Your child is precious, thus it is important to know that they are in safe hands. Background checks should be considered standard practice and are typically done by schools, centres, and most providers.
  • Expectations: There is no ABA magic wand, it takes hard, dedicated work by a lot of people to help your child reach their potential. Watch out for grandiose promises about idealistic outcomes. Providers who promise instant cures should be probed.
  • Plans: Each plan for each child should be individualized, focusing on skills that are valued by you and that facilitate skills that can be used in real world settings and that lead to meaningful adult outcomes.
  • Data: Data collection is a critical component of all ABA programs. Providers, centres and schools should be able to regularly provide you data in a format that is understandable, and they should explain how to interpret the data.
  • The Future: Plans should address generalization which refers to the ability of being able to use a skill in all appropriate situations, such as at home or on vacation. Maintenance which refers to keeping a skill once you learn it, should also play an important role.