Newsletter: August 2017



Editor’s Note

Parents of children with autism are faced with what often feels like endless criticism. Hearing about all the things your child cant do is never easy. It is important during these periods of time to remind yourself of all the things your child can do and has already achieved. I challenge any parent to have to deal with the constant “criticism” parents of children with autism or a developmental delay are subjected to.  On a bad day when it feels overwhelming remind yourself of all the skills your child can do and all the progress that has already been made. Draw comfort from the fact that there is always a solution to a particular challenge. Its never too late and together with your Star Academy team we will find a way to teach the skill. To see your child’s measurable progress is like a spoonful of medicine to ease the pain. 


Last week I was walking around the Academies and showing around a guest who wanted to learn more about what we do and why Aba can really make all the difference. I was inspired by the interactions with all the Aba instructors as I realised how incredibly lucky we are to be blessed with so many passionate and dedicated angels who work with our kids everyday, many of whom have been with us at least six years and since we opened. When asked why they continue to work at Star Academy without fail they all replied: ” Aba works and therefore I am making a real difference to the lives of the children I teach on a daily basis. Children who couldn’t speak before learn how to speak and learn how to communicate appropriately”. I walked away proud of our team feeling blessed. 


No matter how dark or gloomy the road ahead may often seem and even though it feels as though you have exhausted all possibilities, remember this – you havent! Hope and faith will find a way!




Social Media News

The Star Academy Tweets regularly on resourceful information and new findings on autism research. Follow us to expand your knowledge and learn about the latest autism treatment solutions. If you follow us on twitter you will receive notifications on all up coming presentations not to be missed




Dr. Bryan Jepson

The importance of Glutathione for Autism. 

GSH performs a lot of vital intracellular functions. It is the main anti-oxidant, both intracellular and extracellular, preventing free radical- induced cellular damage from oxidative stress. It maintains mitochondrial integrity and ATP production (necessary energy production). It works in the immune system to maintain normal T-cell subsets and to protect cells against intracellular viruses. It is essential for the function and structural integrity of the gut; mucosal GSH depletion is associated with inflammatory bowel disease. It is the foremost means for detoxifying and eliminating heavy metals and other environmental toxins, and it maintains Vitamin C and Vitamin E in their active forms. Without adequate levels of GSH, our bodies are comprised on many levels. 


Discuss lipsomal Glutothione with your medical doctor. 





Food Corner/ Autism Nutrition


3 apples
 3 eggs
 ½ teaspoon cinnamon powder
Butter for frying

Peel and core apples.

Blend/Grate apples in a food processor

 Mix in eggs and cinnamon powder

 Melt butter in a pan

Fry as you would pancakes



Banana Fritters

Banana Fritters 

1-2 bananas, blended into pulp

½ cup almond flour 1 egg

Butter for frying



Mix banana, almond flour, and egg in bowl.

Scoop mixture into pan with butter, and fry until golden brown.




Jamie’s Story

Hello I am Jamie. This is my corner. This is where I write my thoughts. My first story is about Mandela day. I hope you all enjoy it. Long ago in South Africa Black people couldn’t live near White people. They couldn’t go on a bus with White people. Black people couldn’t go to school with White people. Nelson Mandela said, that is not okay. He said Black people They can go everywhere. They can sit everywhere. He had to fight with the White people. They put him in jail. He was in jail for 27 years. That is older than me. Nelson Mandela said I was in jail and I learnt that talking is very important because it helps people understand. No one would let him talk. It became important for him. Talking is important for me and for everyone. We remember Nelson Mandela on his birthday. Mandela day is on Nelson Mandela’s birthday. Date 18 July. He was the President in South Africa. Mandela day is for helping people. I also helped. I went to pick ‘m pay to buy food. I got the food by myself. I have the food to the lady. It is to help the poor people. I am proud.




Wings for Life and Star Academy take flight!

Wings For Life Ghana – ABA


In June 2017, Wings For Life, in collaboration with The Star Academy in South Africa, launched Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) programs for children in Kumasi Ghana.  Amber Brooke Smith,  who is a Star Academy Supervisor and Board Certified Autism Technician assisted the transition of what was once known as a “remedial school” in Kumasi to  a school offering their students ABA programs.  According to the surgeon- general in the USA, ABA is a medical necessity for children with autism. ABA is evidence based and has years of research in support of it being an effective teaching methodology for children with autism.


Due to the tireless efforts, vision and commitment of the Director of Wings for Life, Mercy Ampofo the project has been successful and the transition complete. It has been a heart-warming experience to witness the joy of the parents whose children have already acquired new skills in such a short space of time. Providing a child who prior to the ABA program, had absolutely no means of communication, with an appropriate way to be heard and understood has been very inspiring to the families in Ghana. Knowing that they have renewed hope for a brighter future for their children has been exciting and we look forward to their continued progress. The collaboration and partnership of Wings For Life Ghana and The Star Academy will pave the way to ensuring that access to ABA services is available as a treatment option. We are excited to embark on this new venture, making it possible for children with autism to learn new skills and to become functional and independent, in turn changing the lives of their families.


Currently, one of our Senior Instructors, Gaby Mabena from Star Academy Pretoria, is stationed in Ghana and is providing continued staff training and support to the new ABA Unit in Kumasi. We would like to extend a thank you to Priscilla Danso from Therakidz in Accra Ghana who facilitated the transition and set- up in Kumasi. Ghana has become a leader in treating and educating children with autism being able to offer ABA programs in both Accra and in Kumasi.





Featuring Rebecca

I have completed my BA in Psychology through Unisa, and I started at Star Academy in 2012 while finishing my Honours. I planned on staying for only a year, but five years down the line and I have found my career. I also obtained my Post Graduate Certificate in Education in 2014 which has further expanded my skills in working with children. The practice of Applied Behaviour Analysis is an amazing method of teaching children – particularly those on the spectrum – and I feel privileged to be a part of the Star Academy team that offers these internationally recognised programmes to South African families. The most amazing part is seeing the observable and measurable changes that influence all aspects of life, from the adaptive skills such as brushing teeth, to the more complex social skills such as maintaining a conversation: everything we teach is transferable and noticeable. The Star Academy is also home to the only Board Certified Autism Technicians in South Africa – acquiring this international qualification is a great acknowledgment to the level of skill that we offer. This work has also inspired me to further my education within the ABA field, and I am currently working towards my BcaBA (Board Certified Assistant Behaviour Analyst) qualification through the Florida Institute of Technology.




Meet Cherona Ratuenbach

I am a second year psychology student and I wanted a job that was relevant to my studies. I looked for a long time and found nothing, so I began to look into volunteering for the sake of practical experience. Then I came across the Star Academy.

Interacting with the children and watching them do their best is truly inspiring. The thought that as an ABA instructor at the Star Academy we are helping children achieve their full potential is very satisfying. 



Meet Gift Letsoalo

Being an individual that works better with theoretical concepts rather than practical skills, it was a little difficult applying all the concepts we had learnt, constantly over-thinking lesson trials and methods of interacting with the children. Sooner rather than later, I learnt to become more comfortable. Taking the time to observe other instructors, I saw that more than a job, it was loving each and every child as not only who they are but what they can become and this helped immeasurably with wanting to constantly become a better instructor. Being in an atmosphere of friendly skilled instructors who are willing to help me makes this journey much easier. Either than spending time with the children, there’s always someone to talk to, including the guard. From the various trainings to the fruitful sounds echoed by the kids and the mixture of different personalities, there is never a dull moment at Star Academy.
The following quote expresses how I have learnt view autism, disorders and other inabilities. 
-‘Disability’ is not an inability to perform like others but rather it is an ability to perform unlike any other.



Meet Simone van Jaarsveld

My name is Simoné van Jaarsveld, I am from Centurion. I studied BA Human Movement Science at Tuks, and also did my Honours there. I have a big passion for children with Autism. My experience at Star has been very educational and exciting. I’ve learnt so much in the short while I’ve been here. Sometimes my head spins with information, but I love it. I feel honoured to be able to touch the lives of these children. 



Meet Bianca Woodhouse

I recently moved up to Pretoria to study (I am doing my Honours in Educational Psychology) and when I was looking for a job, a friend of mine mentioned that she works at the Star Academy and that I should check it out.


When I went for my buddy day at the beginning of June, I fell in love. The program, the children, the interactions between the children and instructors, everything about Star and ABA, I fell in love with all of it. I knew that this is what I am supposed to be doing for the rest of my life.


So far, my experience at Star has been great! There have been definite ups and downs, but for the most part, it is everything I thought it would be and so much more. I look forward to seeing what the future holds for me at Star.



Zintle Mkrweqana

I am a ballroom and Latin dancer. I love dancing! I am very open minded, a great listener and enjoy being around good company. I have been at Star Academy for two weeks and it has been nothing but a wonderful experience. The biggest challenge has been getting to know the kids I have been working with, knowing what they like and how their sessions are done. However, this has been a great learning curve for me, and a great pleasure learning about them. I am falling in love with them every day. They are amazing! Now that I have started working aside from training I have been getting a strong sense of what Star Academy stands to do, and am so happy to know that I am part of such a great team. I am excited to learn more, grow as an Individual and continue making a difference every day in a child’s life.



Nicolas Vogel

My name is Nicolas Vogel. I completed my B.A degree with majors in Psychology and English at Midrand Graduate Institute. Before I became fortunate enough to join the Star Academy team, I volunteered at a Juvenile Prison working with youths who have been in conflict with the law.

This is where I realised my passion for working with young people and being a part of the key to unlocking potential in young people who face more challenging circumstances than most realise. 

At this time in my life, a whole new world of children with so much unlockable potential and talent came into my life through the amazing work that Star Academy and its highly skilled staff do every single day. 




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