Directors Note

Letter from Akil


Year End function


Medical Corner


illanaDear Star Academy Team

This is a very special time of the year for me as I get to tell you all how I feel about you and how much I value your amazing dedication.

We have an incredible team at the Star Academy ! As a result there are many families and children that each one of you have played a part in making an enormous difference to their quality of life. In many cases children’s lives and in turn the lives of their families have been turned around for the better and in this way, you have all not only changed their experiences, but you have impacted on the world. You have been a part of turning darkness into light. This is a profound achievement! I am sure u will all agree that not everyone can say that they have a meaningful job. Working for the children at star academy has given you all a very important purpose and mission in life.

Every day each one of you commit to helping a child who needs your expertise, skill and commitment.

It is heart warming to see the difference each one of you make, both in terms of helping the child and the impact that this has on the family. You can be proud of the significant part that you play.

Proudly affiliated to the world leaders in autism treatment, the Center For Autism and related disorders in the US founded by Dr Doreen Granpeesheh our star team excelled this year in providing top quality aba services to children in SA

This year has truly been a special year for us. One of the highlights was the BCAT exam, at which you all excelled. This exam is a significant milestone in terms of officially recognizing the standardization of ABA treatment on a global level.

“The certificate is awarded by the Behaviour Intervention Certification Council (BICC) in the USA as part of their certification programme. Our Star Team met the elegibility requirements for exam entrants which included a certain number of supervised experience hours and excelled in achieving excellent marks for the exam.”

Another amazing highlight has been the Thembisa Outreach Programme which was established in order to help children diagnosed with autism who are part of the Thembisa community. I am moved by their stories and by the commitment and care of our outreach team. This is a story about which we all feel deeply. Just the thought of the parents taking their children to the Thembisa Hospital and having to forgo their food for the day in order to afford the public transport brings home how much we are privileged to be able to make a difference in their lives. We look forward to continuing the programme and developing this further next year.

The theme for this year’s event was the Oscars which of course as we all know honours those who merit acknowledgement. In the same way, our year end party was in honour of all of you in acknowledgement of your expertise and dedication. With movies anything is possible and in the same way I believe that anything is possible when it comes to healing and finding a way to help children with autism. We all experience this daily and I am honoured to be a part of this experience with all of you.

As the year comes to a close I thank each and every one of you for making a difference and for making the Star Academy a haven of hope for so many families and their children.

Here’s to a wonderful holiday and another great year in 2016.

Ilana Gerschlowitz
Managing Director


akil-seemaThe story of 2015 is one filled with moments of fantastic achievements, tinged by one of sorrow. This was the year we lost our dear friend and colleague, Quincy and it will be remembered in this way for a long time

After Quincy’s passing, we vowed to continue working as hard if not harder to honour the impact Quincy made on The Star Academy and I feel that we have gone some way to achieving that.

We have been able to integrate a significantly greater amount of clients into mainstream schooling and helped numerous kids talk for the first time, amongst many other tangible and meaningful milestones for the kids we work with and their families. The growth in our workshop sites has been remarkable and we are privileged to be associated with out sites in Ghana, Zimbabwe and Mauritius.

The Tembisa  project, which was borne out of Ilana’s vision to make access to high quality ABA accessible to underprivileged communities, has been a rousing success and we look forward to taking this project to even greater heights.

It’s standard practice to take stock at the close of the year and attempt to objectively gauge performance over the course of the year. Whilst all of our instructors are continuing to show excellent growth we are aware that we can always improve and strive to always ensure we are providing world class ABA across the African continent. I would like to congratulate each and every instructor for their faultless dedication and amazing progress in 2015. It fills one with pride and confidence that we are going to continue making a difference in 2016, to the lives of every client we work with.

To all our families, we wish you a blessed festive season and a prosperous 2016!



TrishaPROMPT is an acronym for Prompts for Restructuring Oral Muscular Phonetic Targets. The technique is a tactile-kinesthetic approach that uses touch cues on and around the facial area (jaw, tongue, lips, larynx and chest ) to manipulate the oro-motor structures and to manually guide clients to produce a sound, word, phrase or sentence. The technique develops motor control and facilitates the development of proper oral muscular movements, while eliminating unnecessary muscle movements which includes jaw sliding and inadequate lip rounding/retraction.

PROMPT has three general uses:

  1. To develop an interactive focus or awareness for oral communication
  2. To develop  integrated and multi-sensory associative mapping for cognitive or    linguistic concepts.
  3. To develop, balance and restructure speech subsystems at the sound, word or phrase level.

Initially, the child’s entire system will be evaluated. This includes body tone, breath support, phonation abilities as well as the oral motor capacity. Based on this evaluation, the appropriate level of intervention strategies and use of PROMPT will be determined.

PROMPT begins by helping clients produce certain phonemes. A phoneme is the smallest increment of sound in speech. For example, the “d” sound in the word dog is one phoneme. Each phoneme requires different muscle contractions/retractions and placement/movement of the jaw, lips, tongue, neck and chest. All of these ‘movements’ have to happen with the proper timing and sequence to produce one phoneme correctly.  In PROMPT we attempt to “teach” the client’s muscles to produce a phoneme correctly by stimulating all of these through touch. In addition to addressing the production of phonemes at the sound, word and phrase level, we also work on prosody and fluency of speech.

PROMPT instructions benefits  a wide range of clients with communication disorders such as motor speech disorders, articulation problems, aphasia, apraxia/dyspraxia, dysarthria, pervasive development disorders, cerebral palsy as well as acquired brain injuries.

PROMPT is highly effective for improving speech and helping children develop sounds because it provides visual, auditory, tactile, kinesthetic and proprioceptive cues to the speech system.  It helps reshape individual sounds as well as connected  sound sequences and improves overall speech intelligibility. This is achieved by facilitating increased placement and voicing for speech sound production, increased ability to construct whole words, phrases and sentences and increased ability to produce speech spontaneously in all environments. At the Star Academy we incorporate prompt into the ABA Programs. If you would like to access Prompt services send us an email –




I received the helping hand award. I feel honoured to be recognised as this person because I always thrive to give my all everyday and receiving this shows that I have achieved my goal. This is important to me as I love my job. It’s not a job to me but a privilege to have the opportunity to help make a difference in someones life each and everyday. Not everybody can say they wake up everyday excited to go to work and play and teach a little special person something new everyday. I feel blessed to be working with such amazing kids everyday who through their unique characters teach me something new everyday.


I won the award for newcomer of the year (Pretoria). The best part of this job is to develop a bond with the kids and to see how they grow over time.


I read somewhere ‘if you have a job you love, Monday’s would never be a problem’. That is exactly how I feel about being at The Star Academy. If I had to pinpoint one thing that would describe why I love my job; that would be hands down the kiddos. They are the reason that I am loving every second of my job. Besides me teaching them everyday, they have been teaching me about life and how to live life to the fullest every single day.


I won the award for the ‘most creative instructor of the year’ in Pretoria. I feel very blessed to be in an environment such as The Star Acadamy, where I am allowed to be creative and bring a little bit of myself into teaching our kids. I love seeing our children reach a goal for the first time and use that skill in their everyday life. Prompt is used as a tool to assist children who have speech motor challenges. At  the Star Academy we use this technique to assist children who struggle with vocal language and prompt is incorporated into their ABA program.


I won an award for being the most abused therapist. To begin with abuse is diverse and abstract, how one perceives abuse is different from how others perceive it. My job requires play, I work with the bigger boys. The most important part about my job is the belief that I am changing the world, slowly but surely, and the minute I notice a positive change in the behaviour of any of my kids, I silently celebrate and reinforce the appropriate behaviour for I know the skills I am applying are effective. What I love about my job is that I get the chance to become a kid again, be one with them and do what they do. The skills we provide for these kids requires a lot more than what we learnt at university. It requires personality, patience, emotional intelligence, vibrancy and most importantly skill. If I die today I know what I did with my life, I changed the world. Together with my kids, I am a puzzle in that beautiful star on our company’s logo.


At the year end function I was honored with the award of “social butterfly”. This not only entails being the loudest person in the center in terms of reinforcement, but also getting to socialize with my fellow colleagues. I am thankful that the Star Academy gives us an opportunity to meet new people and make new friends. What I love about my job is seeing the smiles on our kids faces, and seeing them accomplish something new everyday. It is the only job where you can let your inner child loose and have so much fun whilst doing work at the same time.



Honour of receiving the social butterfly and best social praise instructor!

I was so happy and honoured to hear my name called on stage. It’s a great feeling that our efforts and work do not go unnoticed. I go to work everyday with a huge smile on my face because I have been given yet another opportunity to change lives! My kids and team alike give me so much life. We laugh, we play and we celebrate each and every single milestone! I love my kids, I love my team. I LOVE THE STAR ACADEMY!!!!!


It was such a privilege to be awarded Team Lead of the year 2015.

Waking up every morning of every day knowing that today i will be making a difference in our amazing children is such a pleasure. Working with children has been my passion for many years and each one of them has a special place in my heart. All of our children are stars in their own unique way and seeing how much effort they put into everything they do and how hard they try brings me so much joy. I thank Star Academy for giving me this opportunity  to be able to work with our children on a daily basis and work hard to make a difference in their lives.


Steve Jobs once said “The only way to do great work is to love what you do”, and I agree wholeheartedly. I have so much passion for what I do- I love that I get to play all day and call it work! I’m surrounded by contagious laughter and hugs and hard work and progress, and every day is another chance to make a difference- to teach a new skill, or hear a first word, to witness firsthand how our children go from strength to strength. The wonderful thing about doing the work we do is that no two days are alike, each day brings its own challenges, it’s own successes, and it’s own memories. The passion never ends because the excitement never ends! To go in to work each morning and hear singing and cheering and giggling is a true blessing. The instructors I work with are dedicated, they’re enthusiastic and energetic and it is because of this that I am honoured to have received the “Lead Instructor of the year” award. As Mandy Hale said “To make a difference in someone’s life you don’t have to be brilliant, rich, beautiful or perfect. You just have to care.” And care we do!


At Star academy, I have learnt how empowering independent individual and positive working relationships can be in the life of a young adult, and so I have placed a lot of emphasis on developing curiosity, perseverance, and stressing the value of hard work with the learners I had been placed with this year.

The relationships and experiences I developed as a young ABA Instructor with the learners has been a rigorous, empowering and value-based one. In this past year, my emotionally enriching experience at Star Academy has been immeasurable. It has contributed to my develpment as a young, independent individual eager to blossom in the real world.

A child’s schooling career should be a transformative experience, where one should strive to develop their intellectual, artistic, sporting, spiritual, and social gifts. At Star Academy, every day is a learning experience and more importantly an opportunity to extend a relationship to the peak of its fruitfulness.

I have learnt how to appreciate the value of the tinniest things like a learner’s smile. I am grateful to our founder Ilana Gerschlowitz for believing in me and motivating me to be the best ABA Instructor I could be. I truly value the courage and support I received from my co-workers during a tragic experience this year in my personal life and I would like to take this opportunity to thank them for all the love and support.

Ultimately, I have learnt to be proud of myself and our learners because no victory is too small.


I recieved the award for best junior instructor of 2015. It’s a big honour as this shows that all our hard work will be rewarded. I love every part of my job but the thing I love the most it seeing how our hard work pays off on a daily basis as our kids make progress. To hear a child speak his first words or to see how they accept their first hand in a new friendship is what makes this the best job in the world!!


PROMPT is “prompts for restructuring oral motor phonetic targets”. I started doing PROMPT 3 years ago and I’ve fallen in love with it since. As a PROMPTER, you are helping the kids find their voice. The biggest reward is hearing their first words/sounds and proving everyone who said they would never talk wrong. The best part of been part of the The Star Academy is the lessons you learn from the kids. As much as we teach them, they also teach  us in turn and I’ve learned a lot about myself through this experience.


What an overwhelming  feeling to win PROMPTER of the year for Pretoria! It is such an honour  doing  what we do.

Being able to provide the  children with the specific input to produce  sounds necessary  for communication is a feeling that can’t be explained. Seeing the difference PROMPT has made with some of the children I work with takes my breath  away.

I love that I am able to assist a child with a crucial skill such as communication!


Being best newcomer of 2015 in Johannesburg was unexpected and amazing. I have done many things so far in my life and travelled the world but no recognition I have ever received in past careers has ever been as breathtaking as this one. This award has made me want to push that much harder to become the best the ABA Instructor I can be and work harder everyday. To say that I wake up every day excited is an understatement, I am thrilled to say that I have found my place and that place is at the Star Academy helping these amazing children. They have changed my life in ways I cannot explain and I can never thank them enough for that. I love that no matter how bad my day is going, being with one child can make my day that much better. Knowing that as an individual I am making a change in a child’s life , their family’s life and a community is so rewarding.  I cannot refer to this as my job, I don’t see this as a job, this is an amazing journey that I have been put on and I cannot wait to see where it goes. So to Star Academy and all the children, you make my days and my life that much better, let’s take this journey one step and piece at a time.


Impaired Detoxification and Glutathione

Research shows that children with ASD and ADHD have impaired detoxification pathways. Detoxification is the process by which chemicals and harmful substances are removed safely from the body. Children who are developing neurotypically are able to remove toxins like heavy metals, pesticides and chemicals more effectively from the body. Children with autism have less glutathione so it gets depleted more quickly, especially when there is a higher degree of environmental insult.

What is glutathione?

Glutathione is created through methylation. Dr. S. Jill James has shown that 90% of children on the autism spectrum, as well as, their parents have impaired methylation.

“Glutathione is the major antioxidant present in cells and is responsible for detoxification and elimination of environmental toxins. It’s active form is reduced 80% in kids with autism”.

~ Dr. S. Jill James, PhD
Arkansas Childrens Research

When embarking on a biomedical treatment protocol discuss the possibility of impaired detoxfication and Glutathione as a treatment with your Biomedical Doctor.


imagesEarthsap Products

The tea tree shampoo and conditioner are wonderful products to use this summer especially with our kids swimming regularly. Children on the autism spectrum often struggle to detoxify toxins and we need to always consider keeping their exposure to toxins as minimal as possible. Using these hair products can be beneficial instead of other products that contain chemicals children may not be able to detoxify.