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autism-quotes-1IN THIS ISSUE

AFRICA’S MOST INFLUENTIAL WOMEN IN BUSINESS AND GOVERNMENT FOR EDUCATION PRIVATE SECTOR AWARDED TO THE DIRECTOR OF THE STAR ACADEMY

DIRECTOR’S NOTE – ILANA GERSCHLOWITZ

THE STAR ACADEMY TEAM

ART THERAPY

SOUTH AFRICAN GUIDE – DOGS ASSOCIATION

OUTREACH PROGRAM – TEMBISA

MUSIC THERAPY

PARENT TESTIMONIAL ON APPLIED BEHAVIOUR ANALYSIS

WORKING AT THE STAR ACADEMY

MEDICAL CORNER

ON TOP OF KILIMANJARO

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

front picture

AFRICA’S MOST INFLUENTIAL WOMEN IN BUSINESS AND GOVERNMENT FOR EDUCATION PRIVATE SECTOR AWARDED TO THE DIRECTOR OF THE STAR ACADEMY

ilana-awardWe are thrilled to announce that our director of The Star Academy, Ilana        Gerschlowitz, has been reconised as the Country Winner for South Africa, as well  as the SADC South Winner in Education and Training: Private Sector, for Africa’s  Most Influential Women in Business and Government.

Ilana was honoured with the accolade at the annual CEO Global Awards  Ceremony held in Johannesburg last week, in recognition of her tireless work as  the driving force behind providing expert ABA services for children affected by  autism in South Africa and other regions throughout Africa.

CEO Global provides a platform which honours the role of women who have leadership positions in the different regions of the African continent.  This platform culminates annually in the awards ceremony to salute these women and their contribution to their respective sectors and communities across Africa.

This awards platform is launched as a 12 month programme each year.  The programme is designed to uplift and recognise women across the African Continent, paying tribute to women who are consistently creating a positive impact through their different areas of expertise.

CEO Global have long been at the forefront of recognising women leading and  achieving in their regional sectors, selecting winners after a lengthy process of  considering thousands of nominations in 24 different sectors. The nominations  are considered by a panel of 12 judges selected from prominent positions in  business and government who consider each finalist’s information, projects and  interviews. The final results are then audited by KPMG.

This award is a testament to Ilana’s vision, courage and commitment, acknowledging her work and the effectiveness and impact of the Star Academy’s ABA programmes on children with autism in the African region, both in the private education sector and for children in underprivileged communities.

On accepting this prestigious award Ilana dedicated the award to the autistic children around the world for their bravery labelling them as the true winners of our society.  On a macro level the award provides a platform to create an awareness of the need for ABA services for autistic children in the African region while further providing the opportunity for people to understand that autism is in fact a treatable and often recoverable condition.

Congratulations!!!

igDirector’s note

We all know from first-hand experience that having a child with autism has its      challenges. There are times of sadness, anger and exhaustion, but there are also  those unique moments that will make your family grow stronger. Autism doesn’t  come with a manual. It comes with a parent who never gives up on the child or    on finding a way to deal with the challenges.

Living in fear is another experience with which we as parents of autistic children become familiar – fear of the future, fear of rejection from the community, fear of financial burden and fear of overcoming the challenges which accompany an autism diagnosis.

These fears are natural and something that most of us experience at some point.  The best advice I can share with other parents who have recently received an autism diagnosis or who are wondering how they will make it through another day is to become informed. As soon as you empower yourself with information on the diagnosis and how to treat it you will find your fear dissipating.

Knowing that solutions are possible means you no longer live in fear.  You simply will make it through another day, knowing that it is possible for things to change in an instant and that tomorrow you will be celebrating the progress.

Choose to see the glass half full and hold on to your hope and faith, as autism is a treatable diagnosis. Choose to focus on solutions to help alleviate your worry. Set aside time every day to take stock and implement your autism action plan.  You need to take control of the diagnosis and of your child’s future. No one else will do it for you. You can consult with the experts, but ultimately you need to work every day at ensuring that your autism action plan is working for your child, maintaining a belief that change is possible.

Changes on the Star Academy front this month see a new Academy opening in Highlands North at 112 Athol street, making additional space available for children in Johannesburg enrolled in our ABA programs. We have also secured a new location which will be opening soon in Erasmuskloof, Pretoria. In order to provide the ideal support for our children at these new Academies, we welcome a new intake of dedicated trainees this month both in Johannesburg and Pretoria who are being trained by our ABA Trainers, in order to ensure that they attain the standard of excellence associated with our ABA teams throughout South Africa. It is wonderful to feel their energy and there is much excitement in soon being able to welcome them as part of the Academy’s ABA teams.

Our Durban Academy continues to excel at delivering ABA programmes and has enrolled new students this month to the Academy situated near the Gateway Centre in Umhlanga. Another new development is the opportunity to partner with the South African College of Applied Psychology (SACAP), a leading provider of academically rigorous and accredited psychology courses, producing top students in the psychology field. Star Academy is proud to be a placement for their top students, providing our children with these highly trained graduates who will  then undergo further training to become proficient with an expertise in ABA.

We have a similar opportunity in Pretoria, where we are working with the Psychology Department of the University of Pretoria and have become a placement for their students. Partnering with the Universities assists us in ensuring that we have the best candidates to train for instruction in ABA.

With so many wonderful new changes and new beginnings, the Academy has also been blessed with the love and support of a special lady, Michelle Morrow, who in April this year successfully summited Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest single mountain in the world.  Not only did Michelle achieve this amazing feat, she also did it to raise funds for our children.  On behalf of the whole Star Academy Team, our parents and children, I would like to say a big thank you to Michelle.  Congratulations on your accomplishment.  Your dedication and generosity is something that we will always treasure and which will live on in the children who will benefit from the funds raised by your achievement.

With all these new developments, we look forward to another successful month with our Star Academy team, our parents and children.

Best wishes

ILANA GERSCHLOWITZ

THE STAR ACADEMY TEAM

BEHAVIOUR MANAGMENT – AKIL SEEMA

In my engagements with families of children who we work with, I encounter many challenges that they have to overcome on a daily basis. One of the more common challenges across families of children on the autism spectrum and which I would like to focus on in this column, is how to manage instances of challenging behaviour at home, in the community and in unfamiliar places.

Challenging behaviours whether it be tantrums, aggression or elopement, have a significant impact on a child’s ability to communicate his or her needs, across environments. It is a proven fact that instances of all challenging behaviours decrease and can often be completely eradicated through the implementation of a Behaviour Intervention Plan in ABA sessions.  We have been able to consistently and successfully teach our kids to replace challenging behaviours with an appropriate means of communicating their wants and needs. Often, although challenging behaviours no longer occur during ABA sessions, they occur in other environments, whether it is at home, at school or in public places. It would therefore be a small measure of comfort to parents that their child is capable of communicating functionally in his or her ABA sessions but not so in different environments and with different people.

The first thing to be said in this regard is that given that the behaviour can diminish in ABA sessions, that it should be able to diminish in all other areas of a child’s life.That does not necessarily mean that it is an easy feat, but it is certainly a realistic and important goal to aim for as parents and as an ABA team. The first step would be to determine why the behaviour is happening in specific environments and to work with your ABA supervisor to formulate a well-thought-out but easily implemented Behaviour Intervention Plan (BIP) that you as a family will feel confident in implementing. When we design a BIP, we analyse the function of  the challenging behaviour, as it is important to ascertain whether the behaviour is for access to a tangible item, for escape, for attention, for communication or simply because the behaviour itself feels good. Once the function of a behaviour has been determined the Supervisor can design the BIP and will implement ways to alter the inappropriate behaviour. For example, behaviour modification could require antecedent or consequence manipulation to eradicate the in appropriate behaviour. Appropriate replacement behaviour is very important to ensure a reduction in challenging behaviour.  Once this initial phase is complete, it is highly recommended that your supervisor models implementation of the BIP to you in the relevant environment so that you can see first-hand how to manage the behaviour.  Once the initial ‘training’ phase is complete, consistency becomes pivotal. The behaviour may increase in intensity when the BIP is initially implemented, but don’t be disheartened. Perseverance and consistency will lead to a decrease in the occurrence of your child’s inappropriate behaviour, often within a short duration of time and especially if everyone in the child’s life is being consistent in implementing the BIP.

ABA is most effective when everyone in a child’s life is on the same page. It is important to ensure that as a team, we are encouraging and facilitating the positive behaviours we want our kids to engage more in, and that we are being consistent about not reinforcing challenging behaviours. These are key elements in altering challenging behaviours and ensuring the successful implementation of BIPs. When parents become comfortable taking their children to the supermarket, to a restaurant or on a long haul flight, without having to worry about challenging behaviour occurring, they feel incredibly empowered, and that is very motivating to us as a team.
Akil is available to schools to train teachers in behaviour management. For more information and to secure a training, please email reinette@thestaracademy.co.za

NEWS FROM THE BICC – JENNA WHITE

The Star Academy is proud to welcome Nadine Barris, Carmen Wessels, Marga Somo, and Nasley Mongaile to the ranks of Board Certified Autism Technicians! These four staff members sat for their BCAT exam this month and passed with flying colours, showing that they are worth their salt as ABA instructors, and ensuring that The Star Academy’s gold standard of intervention continues.

This month also saw our local member of the board of BICC directors, Jenna White, attend a BICC Subject Matter Experts meeting via Skype. While the purpose of that meeting is currently top secret, she assures us that exciting news is on the way for the international field of Applied Behaviour Analysis and Autism intervention!

SCHOOL FACILITATION – JACQUELINE VICENTE

School facilitation is the active process of ensuring that a child benefits optimally from their school placement. School facilitation typically involves the development of an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), collaboration between the parents, the ABA team, and the teachers, as well as the provision of hands-on support throughout the school day.

Once the child has attained the pre-requisite skills for entry into a mainstream setting, the Star Academy Supervisor will develop an IEP for the child, which will outline goals and a plan for achieving those goals. The goals often include attainment and generalisation of academic, social, fine motor, gross motor, executive functioning and language and communication skills.  Assisting the child in making friends and modeling from their peers, and ensuring that they are learning from the teacher and the classroom environment as a whole is integral to the success of the child in their school placement.

An expert school facilitator is essentially an “undercover agent”. Sometimes the facilitator must act as an assistant to the teacher and spread his or her attention amongst many or all of the children in the class, in order to minimise the attention drawn the child being supported. At other times, the facilitator must provide more support, and it takes an astute facilitator to notice and adapt to the child’s ever-changing needs.

Over the past few years, I have facilitated in all phases of school including nursery, primary and high school. Each one was a completely different experience; challenging, but so rewarding in many ways.

I would like to share the following experiences and tips to successful facilitation:

1. Nursery school facilitation – Making friends with all the other children in the class is key to ensuring that they will want to engage and socialise with the child you are facilitating.

2. Primary school – Children in this setting are very inquisitive. Making friends with all the children in the class to ensure that you become “cool’’ is very important. This way your child will be perceived as “cool “too and the other children in the class will want to establish and maintain a friendship with the child who is receiving facilitation.

3. High school – The primary goal of a facilitator is to eventually fade out. For some children, facilitation is only required for a short period of time or during certain periods of the day. For others, longer periods of facilitation are required before the child is able to independently cope in a mainstream setting with no support.

Communication with the child’s teachers is of vital importance to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Schools are often reluctant to include our children into mainstream settings, because they do not feel equipped to provide for inclusion, and may not realise that we provide all of the necessary structures and supports. Inclusion of our children in the classroom provides an opportunity to teach the other children empathy. It is also an opportunity for the other children in the classroom to experience and understand difference, and to learn how their strengths can allow the child being facilitated the opportunity to be integrated and included in the classroom.  We have successfully provided many children around South Africa with facilitators. With our expertise and support, inclusion has become a reality for many mainstream schools.

If you would like us to schedule a presentation on facilitation and inclusion for your school, please email info@thestaracademy.co.za

PROMPT – ASHLEIGH CROSS

PROMPT  can be likened to a secret treasure. It is a speech tool and technique we rely on at the Star Academy to assist children and teenagers with speech-motor challenges. PROMPT caught my attention from the moment I was introduced to it.  During my initial PROMPT training, I was excited to feel the prompts on my own facial muscles and to realise how this technique could really assist the children I work with in producing the correct speech-motor pattern for a specific sound or word.

Several of the children and teenagers I work with have PROMPT goals included in their ABA programmes. Looking back, they have all made significant improvements in their speech production and clarity since they first started at our Academy.

For the past two years, I have been working with a 14 year old boy whose PROMPT goals were incorporated into his ABA programme. For months he struggled to say  “sh”, but with continued effort and the provision of PROMPT, he mastered this sound. To finally be able to say “sh” at the age of 14 has enabled him to add more words to his vocal speech repertoire. Our team engaged in hours of brain-stroming to try to figure out how we were going to help him produce the  sound “sh”.  All the hard work paid off, and the cheers and shouts of joy when he produced this sound was heard by many at the Star Academy.

Our team has worked tirelessly with the aide of PROMPT, to make it easier for this teenager to express himself.  There are no words to describe the feeling of hearing him acquire a new sound or word for the first time. Team consistency is of vital importance when prompting children with speech challenges, as the correct motor pattern has to be taught. If everyone is not delivering the prompts in exactly the same way, the child will be receiving the incorrect information and this can slow his or her progress.

PROMPT is a phenomenal technique and I have become proficient in this tactile- kinaesthetic approach to treating speech-motor challenges. To witness the significant changes in speech and language of the children and teenagers who receive this input has been a reward in and of itself. After my recent experience, I can confidently share with parents that there is always hope and that it is never too late to empower children and teenagers affected by autism to produce meaningful and intelligible spoken language.

Our Star Academy team is available to design and manage PROMPT programmes to children who do not attend our Academies. For more information, email info@thestaracademy.co.za

WORLD AUTISM AWARENESS MONTH – ANNAH MOSHATAMA

The Star Academy gave me the opportunity to travel to three different provinces in South Africa during the month of April to provide awareness on autism and ABA. I travelled to Kimberley, Nelspruit and Polokwane to create awareness of the condition and how it affects our children, and to discuss ABA as an effective intervention for treating autism.

Autism awareness and the fact that autism is treatable is a very important message. I feel passionately about sharing this message with our communities. Most people do not fully understand what autism is, because there are so many myths in South Africa about autism.

Giving people information on something they have never been exposed to, and giving them hope that there is an evidence-based intervention that can be used to treat autism has been life-changing. It is like starting a movement of change in your own backyard. With awareness and action, we can start to bring change to South African children, families, communities and the world as a whole.

ART THERAPY

ART THERAPY – ALEX KOEN

art-therapy-course-image-e1444993474924Pablo Picasso once said, “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.

Now, that man knew a thing or two! Expressive arts therapy has been used for the better part of a century therapeutically, but only recently have we started to familiarise ourselves with the benefits of this form of therapy.

Expressive arts therapy is comprised of various sub-disciplines, all with a collective goal: Free Expression. The idea behind art therapy is that it is a non-invasive form of therapy allowing the client to freely express him- or herself through means of creativity. Art therapy allows the client an opportunity to talk without having to use words. This is vital not only for learning, but also for fine and gross motor control, spatial awareness, body and self-knowledge. It also creates opportunities for social and emotional interactions. Expressive arts therapy can include the following sub-disciplines:

  • Art Therapy – Using paints, calk, crayons, wood, clay and all the sculpting and creating material you can think of.
  • Drama Therapy – Acting out scenes and scripts, taking on character roles and allowing the client to dive into a world that is completely their own.
  • Music Therapy – Combining musical instruments, dance, movement, and the making of glorious sounds from instruments, objects and the environment.
  • Play Therapy – Using toys, hand puppets, costumes and make-believe to convey a story about what is happening in the client’s world.
  • Sand Tray Play – Using sand and figurines to create and sculpt a world, tell its story and act it out.

These are but a few examples culminating in a branch of therapy known as expressive arts therapy.

What makes it so effective?

Because art is so focused on the client, and is client-guided, the therapist allows in the session for the client to take the lead, to express and truly say what is going on in his or her world. This is then combined with exercises and therapy goals designed by the therapist.

Who is this therapy for?

It is for EVERYONE! Because it is client-centred, it is meant to be used for clients of all ages, all cognitive levels and for those with and without disabilities. If you can make a smudge on a piece of paper, you’re in! The beauty of Art Therapy is not the end result but the process of creating.

ABA meets Art

How can an expressive arts model not only compliment an ABA programme but also work together towards a collective therapeutic goal? Simple! Both are fun, and as any ABA facilitator or Art Counsellor will tell you, “fun” and “rewarding” is extremely important for compliance. Art allows the client to learn through means that are fun and out-of-the-box, and which address the emotive perspective of an individual. Furthermore, when facilitated, the creative energy spent playing with finger-paint or clay allows the brain to view the world a bit differently, creating fertile ground for problem-solving and for looking at your own world creatively.

ABA, on the other hand, works brilliantly in an art model, creating opportunities to acquire vital skills, and allowing clients to function in their worlds, with a focus on consistency, behaviour and repetition. The benefits of an ABA programme speak for itself to all our kids; some obtain language ability, while others improve greatly with their math, and still others blow our socks off with their amazing fine motor skills.

To my mind, as a proud BCAT, ABA facilitator and Arts Counsellor, these two forms of therapy work well together and can complement the therapeutic process of any individual willing to embark on this journey.

For more information, please contact Alex on 061-299-7329.

SOUTH AFRICAN GUIDE – DOGS ASSOCIATION

GUIDE DOGSThe SA Guide-Dogs Association trains specially-selected dogs to work with children with autism. An Autism Support dog’s primary role is to help with the serious tendency of children with autism to bolt or run away.

The dog is controlled by a primary handler, usually a parent or caregiver. A soft harness with a lead attached is worn by the dog, and the child holds onto this lead.

There are various added advantages in owning an Autism Support dog, including:

Companionship for children who are lonely due to social difficulties.
Assistance with speech therapy and general lessons.
Assistance with tactile sensitivities.
Improvement in confidence, often leading to increased independence.
Provision of physical pressure needed in times of anxiety.
Interaction free from demands.

These very special dogs can often aid in making a hostile world a bit friendlier.

To apply for a dog, click the following link:  http://www.guidedog.org.za/apply-dog/

OUTREACH PROGRAM – TEMBISA

NICOLE MOODLEY

In the United States, 1 in every 4 toddlers live in poverty, and although statistics haven’t been recorded in South Africa, one can only imagine how much more children are faced with poverty here than in the United States.

Evidence-based intervention for autism can be expensive due to the non- participation of medical aids in South Africa. Families who cannot afford ABA intervention are often left with no help. But the Tembisa outreach programme was born to bridge the gap between the accessibility of ABA and the financial struggles that many families face.

I have had a passion to work with such families since I was a teenager. Through the Tembisa outreach programme, we are not only providing ABA, but also bringing about awareness in communities about Autism Spectrum Disorder. I come from a small town surrounded by small townships, and I watched children being misunderstood in schools, homes and the community about the learning deficits that plagued them. This was misunderstood as “naughty” or “slow” behaviour, and sparked my passion to bring about awareness of ASD.

I have been working with the Tembisa outreach programme for a month now, and it has been an absolute pleasure to be a catalyst for awareness and effective intervention. Together with the dedicated team at the Tembisa programme, we have been able to provide quality ABA instruction to children that have been referred to us. We look forward to assisting more children in this area and are committed to delivering quality ABA programs to all of the children and families who join our outreach programme in the future.

DINEO PHOGOJANE

My name is Dineo Phogojane and I am 20 years old. I started working for The Star Academy outreach programme in Tembisa in October 2015. It has truly been an exciting journey for me, and I have learnt to take on any challenge with love and passion. The kids truly bring out the best in me, and I enjoy every moment of my job, as I learn and grow every single day.

MUSIC THERAPY INCORPORATED INTO ABA

MUSIC THERAPYMusic Therapy is the clinical use of music interventions to accomplish individualised goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy programme.

Music Therapy is an established health profession in which music is used within a therapeutic relationship to address physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of individuals. After assessing the strengths and needs of each client, the qualified music therapist provides the indicated treatment including creating, singing, moving to, and/or listening to music. Through musical involvement in the therapeutic context, clients’ abilities are strengthened and transferred to other areas of their lives. Music therapy also provides avenues for communication that can be helpful to those who find it difficult to express themselves in words.

Research in music therapy supports its effectiveness in many areas such as: overall physical rehabilitation and facilitating movement, increasing people’s motivation to become engaged in their treatment, providing emotional support for clients and their families, and providing an outlet for expression of feelings (www.musictherapy.org).

ABA practitioners and music therapists can work together to achieve mutually-approved outcomes, but as with any other therapist on your child’s team, it is important that there be a good working relationship, excellent communication, and a willingness to collaborate.

If you are interested in finding a music therapist for your child, please visit www.samta.co.za and look under the “Contact Us” tab.

PARENT TESTIMONIALS ON APPLIED BEHAVIOUR ANALYSIS

(please note that the names of the children in these testimonials have been changed to protect their identity)

My 2 year old daughter Amber has been in ABA (Applied Behaviour Analysis) programme with The Star Academy for just over 5 months.

Her progress has been nothing short of a miracle. There has been a massive improvement in her problem-solving skills, her language development, her fine and gross motor skills, her compliance, her socialisation, and her imitation skills.

The guidance, support and help that I have received from The Star Academy has been a Godsend. I would be lost without them.

Although Amber still has a long way to go, she is progressing at such a good rate, and thanks to The Star Academy, we are hopeful that she will one day recover.

I am eternally grateful to Ilana and the team for all they are doing for Amber.

Since Fred started attending The Star Aademy 5 months ago, we have seen an incredible change. His development accelerated noticeably. He has developed both emotionally and mentally.

The staff are very caring and capable, and provide great support. We received daily feedback, and are given ample opportunity to participate. Fred is always very happy to go to school, and is in a great mood after his lessons.

We feel very confident that Fred will make great progress in future.

I joined The Star Academy 2 years ago – the nervous, scared mum of a 2.5 year old who had just been diagnosed with ASD.  Being a medical doctor myself, I had sought second and third opinions, taken him for ADOS testing at an OT, and was now finally on the path to acceptance.

At my first encounter with “the team”, I was already impressed.  [His supervisor] Jenna White had clearly read my file.  I cannot tell you how many times I had filled out the same sort of forms, with details of stimming, repetitive behaviours, tantrums, speech issues, etc, only to have to explain everything in detail from the beginning.  Another BIG plus for Jenna’s team was the unsaid understanding that my boy was experiencing anxiety at being there.  They slowly coaxed him out of my arms by pretending to be dinosaurs (benefits of reading the file!), getting down on their knees, to his level, and connecting with him.  In the end, he voluntarily left my lap and didn’t want to go home!  I knew then and there, that I had found the right place for him.  I had flashbacks of my visit to another ABA centre just weeks prior, where they pulled my screaming son from my arms and said, “It’s normal, it’s expected.  Just leave him with us for an hour or two, we will evaluate him and you can pick him up.”  I came back to a miserable child and a terrible feeling of unease.

Today, barely 2 years later, I can stick to my guns, and say that I made the best decision to start him at Star Academy.  Early intervention works!  I firmly believe that the frequent re-assessments and adaptations made by the team every step of the way is what got us where we are today.  The way that [his team lead] Kirsten engages him and leads him effortlessly to a different task without him realising it, is a thing of beauty!  When he seems frustrated, or bored of the same tasks, we mix it up, take breaks, feed the ducks at the crèche etc.  [Team member] Alicia, in her sweet way, can find a way to turn even “packing up”, into a fun, educational experience, and I have often wondered what fun they got into today, when he comes home with drawings done by [another team member] Naydene. Today my 4 year old boy is able to speak, express himself, fight with his sister, and fully engage with peers at his level at crèche.  What more can one ask for?

As we near the end of our need for therapy, I would like to extend my deepest and sincerest thanks to Jenna White, Kirsten Nel, Alicia Naberman and Naydene Vosloo – The A-team who have transformed my frustrated, anxious little boy into the cute, mischievous, funny, and tantrum-free little monster that he is today!

PS, I decided to keep this anonymous as I have not told him about his diagnosis.  I have weighed up the pros and cons of telling such a young child who is now practically neurotypical about his autism and decided that I don’t want him to use it as a crutch or reason not to achieve greatness.  I may tell him if he asks, or as and when the time arises, but for now, he doesn’t know.

WORKING AT THE STAR ACADEMY

MISTY RUHRMUND

Working at The Star Academy has been the greatest adventure that I’ve embarked upon in my life. It is both an honour and a privilege to work for a company which not only is a leader in the treatment of Autism, but which also allows room for and encourages the personal and professional growth of its staff. I am so blessed to have a job where I get to be a part of changing people’s lives and work closely with the most enthusiastic and dedicated people, cheering our children on everyday. My sense of personal success lies in the moments where I see our children achieving – whether it be the first time they ask independently for their favourite snack and smile with pride when they see how excited you are, or the moment you are standing alongside them and their parents as they embark upon their first day of school. Working at The Star Academy and working with children with autism has taught me that love needs no words. “Cherish the children marching to the beat of their own music. They play the most beautiful heart songs.”

SHERECE PRAKASIM

I began working at The Star Academy in December 2013, and boy do I love my job!  I initially applied at The Star Academy with the intention of gaining informal experience in the field, but soon after I began working, I realised that I had found my true calling, and now being an ABA instructor is a way of life for me. Each day is different and each kid brings so much joy, making it very easy to get up, go to work and have an enjoyable, fun-filled day. The most rewarding feeling in the world is seeing how fast our kids progress. I feel honoured to be making a difference in the lives of our kids and their families. I can confidently say that I have one of the most amazing jobs in the world!

IANA TCHOUKANSKA

To say that I have an awesome job would be an understatement. There are few jobs similar to a job at The Star Academy, which provides a platform that ensures so much growth in both a professional and personal capacity. Working with all of our amazing kids has taught me to appreciate all of the victories that they achieve. Although these can sometimes appear small, they are always stepping stones towards larger progress!

MEDICAL CORNER

VAXXED
In 2013, biologist Dr. Brian Hooker received a call from a Senior Scientist at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) who led the agency’s 2004 study on the Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) vaccine and its link to autism.

The scientist, Dr. William Thompson, confessed that the CDC had omitted crucial data in their final report that revealed a causal relationship between the MMR vaccine and autism. Over several months, Dr. Hooker records the phone calls made to him by Dr. Thompson who provides the confidential data destroyed by his colleagues at the CDC.

Dr. Hooker enlists the help of Dr. Andrew Wakefield, the British gastroenterologist falsely accused of starting the anti-vax movement when he first reported in 1998 that the MMR vaccine may cause autism. In his ongoing effort to advocate for children’s health, Wakefield directs this documentary examining the evidence behind an appalling cover-up committed by the government agency charged with protecting the health of American citizens.

Interviews with pharmaceutical insiders, doctors, politicians, and parents of vaccine-injured children reveal an alarming deception that has contributed to the skyrocketing increase of autism and potentially the most catastrophic epidemic of our lifetime.

http://vaxxedthemovie.com

ON TOP OF KILIMANJARO

MICHELLE MORROWMichelle Morrow, who recently climbed Kilimanjaro, said, “It’s been a dream for 13 years – I still can’t believe I’ve done it.”

She recently moved to South Africa from New Zealand, where the idea of climbing Kilimanjaro seemed impossible. The team climbed the Lemosho Route, which according to Morrow has the highest rate of success. Morrow credits her amazing team for being able to stay positive the whole way up.

Besides being a dream, Morrow also raised R30 000 to assist a Tembisa mother in raising her autistic child. She explain that the single mother initially put her child up for adoption upon learning that he had been diagnosed with autism. With no funds to give her child the treatment he needed, and with no chance of being accepted into a school that could cater for his needs, the child had no hope until a very generous family agreed to pay the tuition to educate the child through The Star Academy’s Tembisa outreach programme. The story touched Michelle’s heart so much that she decided to assist. The improvements in the child in just a few months have been significant. However, funds are still required to continue the education programme.

To pledge your support, go to www.backabuddy.co.zawww.thestaracademy.co.za

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

BONE BROTHWHAT IS BROTH?

Broth (or technically, stock) is a mineral-rich infusion made by boiling bones with vegetables, herbs and spices. You’ll find a large stock pot of broth/stock simmering in the kitchen of almost every 5-star restaurant for its great culinary uses and unparalleled flavor, but it is also a powerful health tonic that you can easily add to your family’s diet.

Broth is a traditional food that your grandmother likely made often (and if not, your great-grandmother definitely did). Many societies around the world still consume broth regularly as it is a cheap and highly nutrient-dense food.

Besides its amazing taste and culinary uses, broth is an excellent source of minerals and is known to boost the immune system (chicken soup when you are sick, anyone?) and improve digestion. Its high calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus content make it great for bone and tooth health. Bone broth also supports joints, hair, skin, and nails due to its high collagen content.

It can be made from the bones of beef, bison, lamb, poultry, or fish, and vegetables and spices are often added.

Why Broth?

Anyone who has read Gut and Psychology Syndrome knows the many benefits of bone broth and how it can improve digestion, allergies, immune health, brain health, and much more.

Broth is also helpful to have on hand when anyone in the family gets sick as it can be a soothing and immune boosting drink during illness, even if the person doesn’t feel like eating.

Broth is very high in the amino acids proline and glycine which are vital for healthy connective tissue (ligaments, joints, around organs, etc).

Go to http://wellnessmama.com/5888/how-to-make-bone-broth/ for the best bone broth recipe.

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